The Cinque Ports - Hastings Romney Hythe Dover and Sandwich

An Alliance Of Towns In Kent And Sussex

Welcome to our Cinque Ports feature. If you've experienced any of the towns in this ancient network we'd like to hear from you, your comments make these pages what they are. We're particularly interested in connections, however great with the Cinque Ports. For example Walmer Castle as the residence of the Lord Warden. Our feedback information is at the bottom of the page. For more places to visit in and around the area check out our Discover Kent page.

The Cinque Ports are spread along the Kent and East Sussex coasts. It's not possible to visit all the ports or principle points of interest in a day and it would even be a rush over a long weekend. A three or four day trip staying in local B&Bs is an excellent adventure, particularly if you undertake it with children and/or friends and relatives who are strangers to Kent. The trip can be made at any time of year but you'll need to check on the opening times of the stopping off points on your particular itinerary.

As the name suggests there were originally five Cinque Head (or Leading) Ports (Hastings, Sandwich, Hythe, Dover and Romney) however the influence of the collective port concept grew after its modest inception in the reign of Edward the Confessor. The 'Ports' gradually consolidation this relationship into the 13th c. Eventually every Head Port relied on a network of nearby towns and settlements, known as limbs, to meet its commitments. The most important limbs became formal members of the charter.

In essence the Cinque Ports were a series of coastal towns joined together in a formal relationship. The Head Ports supplied 57 ships, complete with crews for 15 days every year, both for warfare and the service of the King and his armies. In return the Cinque Ports were granted exemptions from certain taxes and levies, prestigious honours at the royal court, some legal autonomy and economic rights linked to lucrative herring fishing.

Today the Confederation has seven Head Ports: Dover, Hastings, Hythe, New Romney, Rye, Sandwich and Winchelsea. Other corporate members are Deal, Faversham, Folkestone, Lydd, Margate, Ramsgate and Tenterden.



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