open Sandwich

Nearby Villages: Ash, Eastry, Woodnesborough & Worth

Map of Sandwich villages

St. Mary's in the snow

St. Mary's Church Eastry

The Village of Eastry

There was a village here in Caesar's time and probably before then, and through it ran the Roman road from Woodnesborough to Dover which can still be traced.

Eastry has a place in history for Egbert, King of Kent, had a palace there in A.D. 664, probably on the site now occupied by Eastry Court, and it was there that two young Princes, Ethelbert and Ethelred, cousins of the King, were treacherously slain and buried in the King's Hall.

After the consolidation of the several independent kingships of Kent into one monarchy, in A.D. 827, Eastry gradually ceased to be a royal residence, and in A.D. 979 the reigning sovereign bestowed the palace and manor upon the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury.

Thomas Becket was often at Eastry and in 1164 lay in hiding at the Court for eight days waiting to escape in a fishing boat from Sandwich to France; tradition has it that in this house there is a small secret chamber communicating with the parish church.

The church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the lower part of the Norman tower dates from late eleventh or early twelfth century; from the top of this tower seventeen other churches can be seen.

Within the church is a fine chancel, a nave with north and south aisles and a south porch, the aisles being prolonged on either side of the west tower.

There is much speculation as to the origin of the labyrinth of caves, off Woodnesborough Lane, which are beautifully carved and extend in galleries to nearly seven hundred feet; these caves may have been used for secret worship in times of religious persecution and were possibly the grain storage chambers for Britain.