I was privileged to have had Sittingbourne as the subject of my commission. I discovered a town with a remarkable history – and even more remarkable residents. Wherever I went – usually with my camera – I was greeted with courtesy and enthusiasm.
Everyone had an extraordinary tale to tell about their town: the discovery of a maker’s mark stamped in gold on an Anglo-Saxon sword; a pub – deemed structurally unsound – which took months to demolish due to the strength and thickness of its walls!
“When you walk down the High Street, look up,” advised a volunteer in The Heritage Hub.
What I saw transported me from an array of shop-fronts with plastic fasciae to buildings of character and beauty.
Gazing though the lens of a camera also provided a fresh perspective. This revealed graceful flights of stairs, bow windows, shell-shaped pediments and a series of broad archways with vaulted roofs, a reminder of Sittingbourne’s coaching inns.
In the High Street, Georgian grandeur mingles with the strident art deco of the Burton’s building and the Cinema, while the parish church bears a relic of medieval pilgrims.
Despite hard times, there is a sense of pride in this town. Residents, volunteers, archaeologists and conservators are fighting to preserve its unique heritage.
Go see. And don’t forget. Look up!
Photograph: A Georgian building flanks the historic Red Lion pub which entertained King Henry V on his return from Agincourt
My thanks to the following institutions and the individuals – many of them volunteers – who have assisted me with this project:
The Heritage Hub, Unit 17, The Forum, High Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3DL
Chair: Richard E. Emmett
CSI Sittingbourne, The Forum, High Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3DL
Manager: Dana Goodburn-Brown
Sittingbourne Heritage Museum, 67 East Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 4BQ
Chair: Allen Whitnell
Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd, 92A Broad Street Canterbury Kent CT1 2LU
The Residents of Sittingbourne