FORDWICH HISTORY

fordwich
fordwich
fordwich flint and sons
The history of Fordwich begins with the first recording of its name - forduuicum, or the village by the ford - in AD 675. King Lothar of Kent granted land at Stodmarsh "near Fordwich" to St Augustine's Abbey. By the 10th century St Augustine's is confirmed as the owner of the manor of Fordwich, although it probably possessed it much earlier.

Fordwich is situated at the highest navigable point on the River Stour. For 2000 years all heavy goods destined for Canterbury were shipped upriver to Fordwich. Much of the medieval history of Fordwich is taken up with the struggle between the Abbey and the townspeople for control of landing rights and the lucrative river trade. Part of St Augustine's wharf can still be seen in the embanked river-wall of Watergate House, which stands on the site of the medieval manor house. The town quay - separate from St Augustine's - seems to have run from the position of the present town hall to the edge of the churchyard.

The most famous cargo to pass through the town was the imported Caen stone used by the Normans to rebuild Canterbury Cathedral between the 11th and 15th centuries. In the early years this led to a struggle between the Abbey and the Cathedral, with the latter attempting to develop its own port downstream from the church, and brawls between lay-brothers of both institutions in the streets of the town. However, agreement was reached that the Cathedral could hire certain quays and the crane, which remained the property of the Abbey until the Reformation.

Fordwich jealously guarded its liberties - including the right to administer justice within its boundaries - until 1880, when the ancient corporation was a swept away in the nationwide reform of local government. Today it is, in legal terms, a civil parish, but the council continues to meet in the Old Town Hall (built 1544, immediately after the dissolution of the monasteries) and the council chairman is styled the mayor.

The town retains its ancients links with the Cinque Ports. Fordwich is a "limb" of its head port, Sandwich, and the mayor also serves as mayor deputy to the mayor of Sandwich.

Although later the Stour gradually silted up, some river trade continued until the mid-19th century.

Fordwich has always been famous for its fishing, especially the Fordwich Trout. In The Compleat Angler (published 1653) Isaak Walton wrote:
There is also in Kent, near to Canterbury, a Trout called there a Fordidge Trout, a Trout that bears the name of the town where it is usually caught, that is accounted the rarest of fish; many of them near the bigness of a Salmon
Isaak Walton 1653
Notable former residents of Fordwich include John and Gregory Blaxland, pioneers of Australia, and the painter Alfred Palmer.