Dover Castle staircase.
Picture Anne Boleyn and the royal court here while
they awaited better weather to cross the channel to France for the wedding of Mary Tudor and King Louis XII.
Early History of Dover
DOVOR, or DOVER, a borough and market-town, one of the cinque ports, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the lathe of St. Augustine, eastern division of the county of KENT, 16 miles (S.E.by S.) from Canterbury, and 72 (E.S.E.) from London.
The ancient British name of the town was Dwyr, derived from Dwfyrrha, a steep place. By the Romans it was called Dubris, and by the Saxons Dofra, and Dofris, which in Domesday-book are softened into Dovere.
In the time of the Romans Dover was a sea-port, and at one period was surrounded by walls having ten gates. This is supposed to be the place at which Julius Caesar first endeavored to effect a landing; but finding the coast dangerous, and the cliffs covered with warriors, he landed about eight miles to the eastward.
The Romans attached considerable importance to this position, and the celebrated Roman road Watling-street, which passed over Barbara-downs, and Canterbury, in its course towards the western parts of the kingdom, commenced here.
At a very early period The Saxon invaders made themselves masters of the castle, and constructed works which are yet in existence.
Edward the Confessor granted to Dover a charter of privileges, and in his reign the institution of the cinque ports is supposed to have taken place, and Dovor to have been made one of them.
Earl Godwin was governor of the castle, and considerably strengthened its fortifications. After the battle of Hastings, many of the natives fled to Dovor castle, as an impregnable fortress, which was however taken by the Conqueror, who put the governor to death, and destroyed the town by fire.
According to Domesday-book, Dovor equipped twenty vessels annually for the king's service, in consideration of being exempt from all tolls and taxes, arid of various other privileges. Some authors have supposed that the house of the Knights Templars, in this place, was the scene of King John's humiliating surrender of his crown to Pandulph, the pope's legate, when he bound himself as a feudatory vassal of the see of Rome; but it is more probable that this ceremony took place at St. John's, in the adjoining parish of Swingfield, where there was a preceptory of Knights Templars, founded previously to 1190.
In 1216, Lewis the Dauphin having landed at Stonar, near Sandwich, and captured several strong places, besieged Dovor castle, but was unable to take it; and in the reign of Edward I. a great part of the town, with some religious houses, was burnt by the French, who were nevertheless soon driven back to their ships.
According to the town records, Dovor, in the reign of Edward II., was divided into twenty-one wards, each of which was compelled to provide, at its own charge,_a ship for the king's service, and in return the town had the exclusive privilege of a license for a packet boat, to convey passengers to and from France. In 1382, Anne, daughter of the Emperor Charles IV., and afterwards consort of Richard II., arrived here.
When the Emperor Sigismund disembarked at Dovor, in 1416, on a visit to his cousin, Henry V., he was formally met at the water's edge by the Duke of Gloucester and several of the nobility, with drawn swords, in order to oppose his landing, should the object of his visit prove to be of a hostile nature.
In 1520, the Emperor Charles V. was met here by Henry VIII., whence both monarchs proceeded to Canterbury, and there kept the festival of Whitsuntide. Henry, aware of the importance of Dovor, then called "the key to the kingdom," contributed £80,000 towards the erection of a pier, which was completed in the reign of Elizabeth, at which period the harbour likewise was constantly undergoing improvements.
Its more effectual preservation is to be ascribed to the charter of James I., under which were appointed eleven commissioners (the lord warden of the cinque-ports, the lieutenant of the castle, and the mayor of Dovor, being always the principal), as special conservators of the port, incorporated under the title of "Warden and Assistants of the Port and Harbour of the Port of Dovor;" and their powers have been repeatedly enlarged by acts passed in subsequent reigns.
In 1814, on the restoration of Louis XVIII. to the French throne, his Majesty George IV. (then Prince Regent,) accompanied that sovereign to Dovor; and, in the same year, Alexander, Emperor of Russia, and Frederic William, King of Prussia, with the veteran Blucher, and other distinguished foreigners in their train, embarked at Boulogne onboard his majesty's ship the impregnable, bearing the flag of his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, as admiral of the fleet, and landed here on a visit to the Prince Regent.
Up until 1851 very few children in Kent went to school. Throughout this period wealthy children were educated at home by private tutors. Some children, who could read and write, went to the grammar schools to learn Latin and Greek so that they could enter the professions or go to University.
In the late 18th century life the industrial revolution began to transform life in Britain. Until then most people lived in the countryside and made their living from farming.
|Dover’s Court and Town Hall from 1606 to 1834 situated in the Market Square. New windows were inserted in 1789. Dover Museum|
From 1712 a man named Thomas Newcomen made primitive steam engines for pumping water from mines. In 1769 James Watt patented a more efficient steam engine. In 1785 his engine was adapted to driving machinery in a cotton factory. The use of steam engines to drive machines slowly transformed industry.
Meanwhile during the 1700s Britain built up a great overseas empire. The North American colonies were lost after the War of Independence 1776-1783. On the other hand after the Seven Years War 1756-1763 Britain captured Canada and India. Britain also took Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago in the West Indies. In 1707 the Act of Union was passed. Scotland was united with England and Wales. England became part of Great Britain.
Owning land was the main form of wealth in the 18th century. Political power and influence was in the hands of rich landowners. At the top were the nobility. Below them were a class of nearly rich landowners called the gentry. In the early 18th century there was another class of landowners called yeomen between the rich and the poor. However during the century this class became less and less numerous. However other middle class people such as merchants and professional men became richer and more numerous, especially in the towns.
Below them were the great mass of the population, craftsmen and laborers. In the 18th century probably half the population lived as subsistence or bare survival level.
In the early 18th century England suffered from gin drinking. It was cheap and it was sold everywhere as you did not need a license to sell it. Many people ruined their health by drinking gin. Yet for many poor people drinking gin was their only comfort. The situation improved after 1751 when a tax was imposed on gin.
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