ENCOMIUM

This is a brief description of my own experience of Sittingbourne while researching the stories for this project.

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

 

Acknowledgements:

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