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Archaeologia Cantiana - Vol. 127   2007 page 458

Book Reviews

Historic Sandwich and its Region 1500-1900. By T.L. Richardson. Published by the Sandwich Local History Society, 2006. Paperback. £.6.50 (+ p&p), from The Hon Sec., Dr F.W.G. Andrews, 14 Stone Cross Lees, Sandwich, CT13 0BZ; mailto: ISBN 0-9542424-3-2.

This book is an overview of the economic and social history of Sandwich from 1500 to 1900 and is the sequel to Medieval Sandwich and its World. In this second book Dr Richardson charts the town’s transition from the late Middle Ages to the modern world and examines how various factors led to alternating periods of socio-economic decline and prosperity. The medieval prosperity of Sandwich was based on its international trade, but from 1500 onwards, the town’s economy and outlook remained essentially regional, as a result of changing trade patterns, the silting up of the harbour and the loss of deep anchorage for large ships, although it remained open to smaller ships plying the coast.
   Sandwich is portrayed as a depressed town during the first half of the sixteenth century. The author sees the exit of tradesmen and craftsmen as the cause of demographic collapse by 1560, but he might also have considered the effect of recurrent epidemic disease experienced generally during the first half of the sixteenth century, especially the influenza epidemic of 1558-9. Chapter 1 is concerned with the economic recovery of the town with the arrival of refugee immigrants from the Low Countries, the subsequent rapid rise in the population, the New Draperies cloth industry and market gardening introduced by the immigrants (Bays, however, was not, as he says, a mixed wool and linen cloth, but was made entirely from wool, with a combed worsted warp and a carded woollen weft). The 1590s saw a return of problems: the collapse of the cloth industry through trade dislocation and high mortality due to poor harvests and plague. In Chapter 2, Dr Richardson argues that despite a short-term recovery in the cloth industry, difficulties continued into the seventeenth century with severe plague epidemics, declining population and a recession in the cloth trade. He examines how the decline in the cloth trade was compensated for by the growing coastal trade in grain, malt and garden produce from the town’s rich hinterland, stimulated by the growth of the London market. The reader is given a useful account of local agriculture and the products passing through the port of Sandwich. The importance of Sandwich as a coal port is highlighted: coal, shipped in mainly from the north-east, was vital for household heating and brewing in an area where wood was scarce.
   Sandwich remained an unhealthy place to live in and death rates were high. Dr Richardson draws on recent research to show how malaria rising from the surrounding marshes led to poor health, susceptibility to infectious disease and a static population. Nevertheless, during the

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