ramsgate historyramsgate then and nowhistoric-buildingsbuildings-at-riskplanning-mattersblue plaques Ramsgate's Story - from the Year Dot to the Present Day

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Ramsgate's history on the Isle of Thanet goes back over many centuries. Early history saw the arrival of the Belgic peoples to this general area in the first 100 years BC during which period the Romans first arrived in 55 and 54BC. They later came to this area of East Kent to fully conquer Britain in the Claudian Invasion of 43AD setting up the huge gateway fortress and town of Richborough nearby - just 4½ miles (6km) in a straight line from present day Ramsgate.

Evidence of their presence has been found during excavation work around the town including in 1870 when Roman Burials were found in the area of the Granville Hotel on the East Cliff. Roman tiles and wooden piles sunk into the chalk beneath the site of the present slipway in the harbour have also been found, when the slipway was constructed suggesting the area was used as a small haven.

During the end of the Roman period the Vikings under the leadership of Hengist and Horsa with their mercenary force arrived at the invitation of the Romano / British leader Vortigern in AD 449. Vortigern gave them the Isle of Thanet - which was a true island at that time - as payment for their help. Landing at Ebbsfleet they were to stay long after the Romans had left, naming the country England.

It was during the Anglo Saxon period that St Augustin arrived from the church of Rome in 597 when he also landed at Ebbsfleet. A stone cross now marks the spot where this landing was said to have taken place. That location is now about half a mile (nearly a kilometre) inland as the mile wide Wantsum Channel - separating Thanet from mainland Kent - has long since silted up.

The towns earliest reference is as Hraefn's ate, meaning cliff gap, It later came to be known as Remmesgate, or sometimes as Ramisgate around the beginning of the 13th Century (1200 to 1230). Some 120 years later, perhaps 1360 or so, the area became known as Ramesgate. At this time this small area was little more than a fishing hamlet with some farms scattered about it as a part of one or more of the local 'Manors'. Then in 1483 Ramsgate was adopted as a limb of Sandwich and thus a part of the Cinque Ports confederation.

Of the local inhabitants William Camden wrote in the early 1600s...


Neither must I passe over heere in silence that which maketh for the singular praise of the inhabitants of Tenet, those especially which dwell by the roads or harboroughs of Margat, Ramsgat and Broadstear. For they are passing industrious, and as if they were amphibii, that is, both land-creatures and sea-creatures, get their living both by sea and land, as one would say, with both these elements: they be Fisher-men and Plough men, as well Husband-men as Mariners, and they that hold the plough-taile in earing [tilling] the ground, the same hold the helme in steering the ship.

Professor Sutton translation from the Latin original.


It was about the time of end of the Tudors and beginning of the Stuarts that 'Manors' lost control of their areas in favour of church parishes which became administrative units. Ramsgate thus came under the control of St Lawrence. Ramsgate began to grow after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 following the successful trade with Russia and the formation of the Bank of England and the East India Company, whose ships brought trade and prosperity to the local fishermen.

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