Strand Street – Sandwich
First day of the Lockdown Sequel for the UK. The weather is astonishingly beautiful – it’s almost like Mother Nature knew the lockdown was coming and told everyone that for a month things were to be calmer again, the time to chill was upon them once more!
Of course this lockdown is actually slightly different to first one, we have learned from mistakes and so the allowances have progressed slightly – however Covid is a physically social virus meaning that it loves social situations – therefore this lockdown means that large social avenues of the industry must shut down again in a bid to lower the R number and save the NHS from imploding.
But the truth is a lot harsher than that – years of underfunding have rendered the hospitals and staffing virtually bankrupt and understaffed.
Supermarkets and essential stores are allowed to stay open, pubs and restaurants must close their doors to in way traffic, but they are allowed to continue to trade if they provide deliveries and a takeaway service. Non essential shops can still trade to the public if they offer and provide delivery or click and collect services. It’s a little confusing to some as to what is allowed and what is not – not to me, but then l am not Mr Society Pants and therefore don’t care about what society is missing out on!
The result l am more interested in, is that SandwichTown is quieter and although there is still movement and traffic both human and vehicle it is for a busy market town, very subdued. Today is a Thursday and today normally would be market day … but there is no market.
This morning l had a fabulous time on my walk, but also l decided that l would create another post for this series and take full advantage of the lesser traffic as this awarded me many exciting photo opportunities normally not possible due to the traffic!
Sandwich is a medieval town and as you may have noticed before with my photography as well as comments and observations l have made, the streets here are very narrow. The traffic around the town is in many areas one way only. There is always something new to discover here l have noticed and since being here l have sharpened my senses and widened my eyes to ensure l see everything this lovely town has to offer tourists and residents alike.
Today’s post covers Strand Street which just happens to be one of the oldest streets in the town of Sandwich and is also considered to be one of the county of Kent’s most prized streets – it is filled almost to the brim with listed and half timbered buildings.
Whilst in the maps above l have displayed the full half mile length of Strand Street starting from the High Street and ending at the start of Ash Road [near to The Butts [Rampart Walk] – l am actually only writing about the section from The High Street to Harnet Street and will write about the other half later in the series. I shall cover the buildings in more detail in another episode also.
Information and guides are hard to come by as they are locked up in tourist buildings currently not been open since March. Below are some charming examples of half timber buildings.
Harfleet House – 39 Strand Street
The Weavers – 15 Strand Street
The remainder of Strand Street’s listed buildings from Harnet to the High Street.
Not all of the buildings along The Strand are considered in optimum appearance and you may indeed note in the photographs two such buildings [one of which is pink and sits on the corner or Love Lane]. Residents of Strand Street have been trying to get the councils and indeed Parliament Ministers to award them with a Section 215 which would allow the local councils to tidy up the properties and make them more appealing as they are currently without residents and or caring property owners.
However, all pleas fell on deaf ears and these properties remain ‘the blight’ of the town and whilst local MP’s understand the situation, they were reluctant to ‘force’ owners of the properties to tidy up the buildings due to the fact that despite beliefs not all property owners are wealthy people.
I will in due course create another post that deals with the actual graded listings of the most notable buildings as l have not displayed photos here of properties such as Merchant Hall which is a Grade II listing and believed to date back to 1470. Many of the buildings along Strand Street if not visibly timbered on the outside will have internal exposed beams.
Half timbering means in layman terms exposed beams on both the inside and the outside of a property. Usually the internal beams are quite decorative. See Half Timbered Houses.
The Weavers houses in Strand Street are 13th century half timbered buildings and as l said at the start this street is one of the oldest streets in the town. The streets themselves are not that much wider that maybe 9 – 10 feet. You could almost sense the hustles and bustles from times afore when the town was a busy port town. The River Stour is only a stones throw from this street and there are many small alley ways that lead down onto the quay such as Pillory and Ives Gate.
If you have ever wondered why some of the Tudor styled buildings had a jutting jaw effect to their structures this was built in so as to maximise upward living space over limited ground/street space. Downstairs were usually kitchens whilst upstairs were bed chambers.
I recently saw some astonishing old postcards displaying impressions of Strand Street from the the thirteenth century and the Weaver’s buildings were not on road, but were next to water and the image showed boats. The word Strand is actually old english and means bank. These buildings were originally on the shores of the River Stour and it is only since the river shrank and as such the banks widened that the other side of Strand Street was developed into property.
The Weavers building is Sandwich is so named after Dutch migrants settling here in the 16th century. The buildings are much older than that as l explain above.
I will in the next few weeks try to dig out some more information on the buildings here – but sadly and rather ironically considering how ancient Sandwich town is … it is proving very hard to find quality in depth information. Anyway, thanks for reading episode 5 of the series, catch you next time!