Fordwich

Britain's Smallest Town

Opening Times Fordwich Town Hall

Spring and summer is here and we are opening the doors again.  Please be aware that we are a charity and rely on wonderful volunteers to open the town hall. Although we try to update the dates below as quickly as we can we may need at times to close at short notice so please always check here before you plan a visit.

Opening times are 1:30pm – 4:00pm

April

  • Sunday 24th

May

  • Sunday 1
  • Bank Holiday Monday 2
  • Sunday 8
  • Sunday 15
  • Sunday 22
  • Sunday 29 – apologies. Due to unforeseen circumstances we were not able to open this day and we apologise for all who tried to come and visit the hall on this day.

June

  • Thursday Bank Holiday 2
  • Friday Bank Holiday 3
  • Saturday 4  Closed for private function
  • Sunday 12
  • Sunday 19
  • Sunday  26

July

  • Sunday 3
  • Sunday 10
  • Sunday 17
  • Sunday 24
  • Sunday 31

August

  • Sunday 7
  • Sunday 14
  • Sunday 21
  • Sunday 28
  • Bank Holiday Monday 31

We are proud to take part in Heritage Open Days 2022 and we hope to be able to open to the public on the following days,

September

  • Friday 9
  • Sunday 11
  • Monday 12
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday 15
  • Friday 16

Saturday 10 and 17 September closed to the public for private function

  • Sunday 18
  • Monday 19th

The Entry fee is £3.00 per person is waved on these days but we do encourage donations to the charity so that we can continue to open to the public.

You can either pay cash, use pay using contactless or the QR code displayed throughout the building.

NB: Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

The Town Hall is located on the banks of the River Stour and is a short walk from Sturry Railway Station and the local bus stop.

The Town Hall usually opens its doors to visitors after Easter and then every Sunday from the beginning of May till the end of September. We are also open for Heritage Open Days. The Town Hall will also be open for special occasions including weddings.

Special group visits are welcome and can be arranged at any time of the year.

For more information regarding Weddings, Civil Partnerships and Ceremonies, please refer to the weddings page on this website.

Kent is very fortunate to have another medieval hall to visit, the court hall in Milton Regis near Sittingbourne. This stunning hall hosts a museum an exhibition area and is lovingly cared for by highly knowledgeable and friendly volunteers keen to welcome you.

A brief history of Fordwich Town Hall

The Town Hall was built circa 1544AD during the reign of King Henry VIII and is a Grade II* listed building. On the ground floor is the Town Jail, used until 1855 when three men were imprisoned for poaching the famous “Fordwich Trout”, a much-prized fish at the time. The Undercroft served as the Jailer’s quarters and was located next to the Crane House. Its crane, still visible today, was used to unload ships bringing goods of all kinds as Fordwich served as the port of Canterbury since Roman times.

The upstairs Courtroom, now also accessible via a lift in the rear garden, was used to try all criminal cases until 1886 by a body of twelve Jurats and a Judge, normally the Mayor of the Town. There is a “The Pleading Bar” where the prisoner would stand and a tiny “Jury Room” where the Jurats retired to consider their verdict on the accused. On the table, built in 1580 at a cost of 8s.0d, are the handcuffs and the baton belonging to the Town Constable as well as a “Branding Iron” used on serious criminals.

Worthy of note is the 800-year old “Muniment Chest” where all the important documents and charters were kept and could only be opened when three people were present. On the main beam hangs the “Ducking Stool” first used in 1465 for women who were accused of gossip or for being scolds. The stool was suspended on the crane, swung over the river and then “ducked” into the water! Also, on the main beam stand two Town Drums, one decorated with Coat of Arms of the Cinque Ports, of which we were members since 1050, and the other with the Coat of Arms of the Mayor of Fordwich depicting a trout on a silver platter. These were sounded to call the townsfolk to hear a proclamation or to warn them of impending danger.

Fordwich has had a Mayor since 1292. Two lists can be seen in the north-east corner of the room. One from 1292 to 1884 when Fordwich briefly lost its Town status. The other is from 1976 to the present day.

Fordwich is classified as a Town, the smallest in the country, and its ancient Town Hall is the oldest and smallest still in use from its inception to the present day and is used by the Town Council and other organisations for meetings.

The Town Hall is open to the public during Spring and Summer (April until end of September) and can be visited by paying a small entrance fee. It can also be hired for meetings and for Wedding ceremonies. For details please contact sarah.fordwichevents@gmail.

 

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