Fordwich the smallest town in England (based on population - Guiness Book of Records), and also has the smallest Town Hall in Britain (maximum capacity 41 people).
Fordwich lies on the River Stour, a few miles north-east of Canterbury, close to Sturry. Bus and train links to Fordwich and Canterbury are good.
Possibly of Roman origin, Fordwich developed to become the port of Canterbury. In centuries past, the Stour was
much wider and led directly into the
A large quantity of the stone for building Canterbury Cathedral, transported from Caen in France, was brought upriver and unloaded at Fordwich. The Cathedral Archives have records dated from 1424 and 1425 listing the transport of 400 tons of stone for the Cathedral.
Gradually the river, and the Wantsum Channel, started to silt up, despite several schemes to keep the waterways clear. The silting-up, together with the opening of the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway (the "Crab and Winkle Line") in 1830 impacted Fordwich's economic importance to Canterbury. Later, with the arrival of road transport, its fate was largely sealed. Thus, the nature of Fordwich changed. Today it's a small hamlet who's river is navigated purely by small pleasure craft.
Links with the past do remain however. Fordwich is a member of the Cinque Port of Sandwich, and the Mayor Deputy of Fordwich still pays annual 'Ship Money' of 6s 8d to the Mayor of Sandwich at a ceremony held at Sandwich Town Hall.
Fordwich was governed until 1883 by a Mayor and 12 Jurats, who were also Justices of the Peace. (Fordwich now has a Town Council of 5 councillors, elected every four years in the local council elections.) Fordwich is therefore a town with a long history, and the centre of Fordwich has been designated a Conservation Area, with many listed buildings.
Its town hall, believed to be the smallest still in use, was built in 1544 during the reign of King Henry V111. This splendid building, complete with jail and court room is now licensed for civil weddings.
There is a ducking stool (now housed inside the town hall) that was once used for ducking women in the river after being accused of gossip or for being a scold!
St. Mary the virgin church is open every day and if you find it closed the keys can be found at the Fordwich Arms.
Parts of the church are probably over 1000 years old. The four bells in the tower date from 1624-1633. Inside it features family box pews and outside resting by the north wall is the famous Fordwich stone carved from limestone in about 1100, tradionally known as St Augustines Tomb.
Book written by K.H.Mcintosh – Fordwich – the Lost Port