giovedì 28 agosto 2014

Re-Discovering Sandwich and Richborough Roman Fort

If I watch outside the window today and then I look back at that 29 July, it seems to be passed a whole season in the meantime: but it was less than one month ago! Having worked on sunday afternoon, I gained my tuesday afternoon free: so I pick up my bike, go fastly to Sandwich and have my lunch: not consisting in a sandwich, but in two insane Rumanian hamburgers!

To front the laborious digestion, I go walking through the curved streets of this lovely town, bordered by houses with geometric wodden rafters outside the walls. Expecially on Strand Street - the oldest in Sandwich, dating to Saxon Age and following the ancient course of River Stour - you can see a lot of this characteristic kentish buildings. Sometimes unexpected creatures sculpted in the wood keep the houses' weight on their shouders.

I've got plenty of time, so I decide to visit some churches: seen from outside, they look quite similar, with the walls full of little round rocks from the chalk cliffs; but when I enter, I find three totally different atmospheres. St Peter, in the very centre of the town, has got a nude, austere appearance: sturdy coloumns and ogive archs stand on the white plaster wall like veins. The layout is strange, with two naves of different lenght, and huge windows.

St Peter

The parish church of St Clement preserve one of the few survived norman towers in England: it's pleasant to walk through the graves around the church and see the light brown tower appearing behind the trees. Aniway, just over the door you find the inside almost completely restorated - a case typical of the parish churches I've visited here.

St Clement

The third church is St Mary, at the end of the Strand: quite modest outside, absolutely surprising inside. A single, enormous hall, with works in progress, deeply silent: you look at the roof and you fear that it could collapse on your head at any moment, but then your eyes lose theirselves in the labyrint of solid wooden rafters, and you feel safe.

St Mary

And last but not least, St Bartholomew, south of the town, after the railway crossing. Unfortunately, this church is closed, but It's worth just walking around the church, in a lovely little square surrounded by old coloured houses and trees.

St Bartholomew

Satisfied of my long town walk, I sit again on my bike, destination Richborough. I've already been here, riding through Canterbury along the National Cycle Network; but this time I want to reach the Roman Fort from the footpaths near River Stour. Several ships are "parked" in the calm Stour waters, reflecting hundreds shades of green.

River Stour

I cross the railway and I enter in a wood under a hill: I know the Fort is near. Just a short but funny climb - except for the nettles (but I'm getting used to!) - and on my left the brown roman stones appear. You have to pay to get in the middle of the citadel, so I decide to go all around... save some informations panels, I can see almost the same.

Richborough Roman Fort

From some isolated houses north of the Fort, I find a straight path with some stones regularly placed on the floor: it's obviously the ancient Roman road leading to the fort! This building was close to the sea 17 centuries ago, and is thought to be the first Roman outpost in Britain. Now you can only see glorious walls on the top of a hill: the sea has retired quite far away, giving space to the new people and armies come one after the other to leave their mark on this land.

Ancient Roman Road

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