Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Fordwich
Fordwich comes from the Old English ‘ford’ meaning a ‘ford’ with ‘wic’ as a ‘dwelling, building or group of buildings for specific purposes or industrial settlement’; therefore, a ‘trading centre at the ford’. The Domesday Book records Fordwich as Forewic.
The now redundant church at Fordwich is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The monks of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury built it around 1070. They added the north aisle late in the 12th century. Early in the 13th century, they extended the chancel and added the tower later that century, with windows inserted in the nave south wall and the north aisle, within 50 years. Joseph Hatch cast and hung a bell in 1624, adding three more nine years later. The church benefited from a plaster tympanum added to the chancel arch in the 16th Century, and, in 1688 inscribed, with the Ten Commandments and the Royal Arms of King William. In 1800, Edward Hasted describes the Fordwich church as consisting of ‘two isles and a chancel, having a tall spire steeple at the west end, in which are four bells. It is situated so close to the river, and so much on a level with it, that it is sometimes overflowed, and always exceedingly wet and damp. There seems to have been some good painted glass in the windows, of which there are but few remains’. The Victorians installed a small Holman organ in 1887.
In 1973, the Rector, Reverend Owen Brandon retired, and due to a general lack of
men and money, and the small population, St Mary’s came under the care of the Vicar
of Sturry, the Reverend Peter Gausden, who had also taken over the Parish of Westbere
with Hersden some two years earlier. In May 1974, Her Majesty in Council created
by order, the United Benefice and Parish of Sturry with Fordwich and Westbere. In
the following years, maintenance of the ancient church proved an extremely heavy
burden on parish finances, and despite considerable fund-
Although the River Stour reaches Canterbury until the 1800’s it could be navigated only as far as Fordwich, which became the city’s port of, very important as water was the only practical means of transporting goods at the time.
The Domesday Book describes Fordwich as a 'Small Burgh', one of only seven boroughs in Kent. It became self-
Fordwich became a corporate limb of the Cinque Port of Sandwich in about 1050, before the Norman Conquest, and as such helped to provide ships and men to fight for the Crown as required. In return, the Town received self-
The Town owned the Quay and the Crane and derived income from duty on imported goods and the hiring of the crane. The stone for
A Guildhall built in 1544, replaced an earlier building. At the rear stood a Crane House with the crane folded back against the building ready to be swung out over the river to unload a boat.
The town jail occupied the ground floor, in the south west corner, and next to it, the jailer's quarters with a large store house. Wrong-