This week I visited Sandwich, Kent. Sandwich is England’s most complete medieval town and has the highest number of listed buildings per head of population in the country. Five minutes out of the train station and I was walking on ancient streets, lined with half-timbered houses. (Strand Street in Sandwich has more half timbered houses than any other street in England.) My main goal, being the obnoxious American that I am, was to find the building where the sandwich was originally invented and eat one. As to whether or not I purchased the prop sandwich before I even left toward the town, I plead the 5th.
Sandwich began as a Saxon stronghold, with historical references back to AD 664. It then went on to become one of England’s most important Cinque Ports, which were the towns on the coast of Kent and Sussex who provided the crown with military protection and trade. The town is located on the coast in south-east England, and is surrounded by picturesque country side and marshy nature reserves.
The origin of the word ‘sandwich’ is believed to have come from Sandwich, England. The story goes that in 1762, John Montagu the 4th Earl of Montagu, couldn’t be bothered with a proper meal during his poker game. He asked for his meat to be placed between the bread to save precious time. Obviously, this is one of those stories that is a little hard to authenticate. I enjoy tall tales, so I choose to believe. The exact location of this triumph of human history is believed to be the Guildhall, a 15th century building in the centre of Sandwich. As pilgrims do, I made my way to this holy site and took bread.
I had also heard wonderful things about the Secret Gardens of Sandwich and wanted to take a peak. Anyone who doesn’t love a good secret garden, obviously wasn’t a Frances Hodgson Burnett fan. Who, by the way, was an English lady turned Southern American gal. Anyway. The Secret Gardens of Sandwich cover 3.5 acres with stunning gardens throughout, in the shadow of The Salutation manor house. My kid and I had a lovely time strolling down the passageways and exploring the ‘secret’ gardens along the way. The gardens are very new, and opened only a few years ago to the public. The Salutation Manor itself was built in 1912 as a weekend retreat by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The property sat hidden and neglected for decades until the recent renovations brought it back to its former glory. There were of course roses of every color, as well as some more exotic varieties of flowers which I can not name as I have not studied Floriculture. I really enjoyed my visit, and will probably return again when I fancy a nice English picnic.
Read more about my trip to Sandwich on tomorrow’s post!
This post on Sandwich is part of my Visit England project. Check back every week for new and interesting places that I visit around England. Be sure and subscribe to The Fly Away American so you never miss a post and follow on Facebook and Twitter.