About the Town
THE TOWN OF HYTHE IN THE DISTRICT OF SHEPWAY The Court of Shepway was established less than a century after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Charter of Edward I (reigned 1042-66) records that the King's Court was formed to handle any disputes between the Cinque Ports (then Dover, Sandwich, Romney, Hastings, and Hythe ), which the individual boroughs couldn't settle between themselves. The Court had powers equivalent to those of the Shire Courts which administered the law in England at the time. King's Court sessions were usually held in the open, on Lympne Hill, where the Shepway Cross now stands.
The Cross was erected in 1923 to mark this site.
The Shepway Cross stands at about the centre of the original Cinque Ports. Today Shepway Council, based in Folkestone, provides services for over 90,000 people from just west of Lydd, along the 'Kent Ditch', through Appledore, then east to include Newchurch, north including Elmsted, Stelling Minnis and Lyminge Forest, Hawkinge, part of Capel, and Folkestone itself.
HYTHE TOWN HALL
The Town Hall, formerly the Guildhall, was built on the site of the covered market place in Hythe High Street in 1794.
Previous meetings had been held in the parvise of the Church of St Leonard's. Meetings of Mayors and Town Councillors (called Jurats) may have been held in the ancient 'Wealden House' almost opposite the Town Hall.
LIST OF THE BAILIFFS OR MAYORS
The Domesday Book describes Kent as being under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Borough of Hythe had 225 inhabitants (burgesses or freemen). From 1399 the Government of the Borough was vested in the freemen and 12 Town Councillors (Jurats) who were sworn to defend the town and its people. Queen Elizabeth I granted Hythe a Royal Charter as a Cinque Port in 1575. Mayors were now to be elected.
The Moot Horn was presented to the Town by Thomas Tourney in 1592 to summon the Freemen to vote on town business (Freemen were men who were permitted to vote). The horn was last blown in 1975, to mark the 400th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to Hythe.
The portrait of Charles James Fox (1749-1806) hangs in the Town Hall.
Fox was a British statesman and member of the Liberal Party, and spent most of his political life in opposition to the Government. He supported religious tolerance, ending the slave trade, American and Irish independence and the French Revolution. In 1802 he opposed Prime Minister William Pitt and the war with France. When Pitt died in January 1806, Fox became Secretary of State, but died in September of the same year and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Another Whig Member of Parliament, Stewart Marjoribanks of Berwick, presented the picture of Fox to the Town, together with the pictures of the two East Indiamen.
BUST OF ELIZABETH THE QUEEN MOTHER
This was commissioned to commemorate the Queen Mother's installation as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
PORTRAIT OF LORD WAKEFIELD
Lord Wakefield was born in 1859 and became a pioneer and entrepreneur in the oil industry. The Wakefield Oil Company made him a rich man. He became Lord Mayor of London in 1915. After the 1914-18 War, he purchased Talbot House, which had been requisitioned as a soldiers club overseen by 'Tubby Clayton', founder of TOC H. He purchased White Cottage near the top of Blackhouse Hill and then built the Links, a small house next to White Cottage.
In 1936 he presented Hythe with a lifeboat, the VISCOUNTESS WAKEFIELD
(costing £6,000). The lifeboat was lost at sea in 1940 during the evacuation of Dunkirk. He was made an Honorary Freeman in 1938. Lady Wakefield bequeathed 10,000 for the benefit of the poor in Hythe. Every year at the celebration of Mayor Making, a solemn moment is given to hanging a wreath to this portrait.
The Venetian Fete has been held on the Royal Military Canal since 1860, except for the war years. Since 1954 it has been held every second year. A trophy is awarded for the best entry.
THE ARMORIAL BEARINGS OF THE CINQUE PORTS
These were presented by Edward I and are carved over the Roll of Hythe Bailiffs and Mayors in the Town Hall.
ADAM FIRE PLACE
This fireplace was designed by the Adam brothers, and made in 1793. Robert and James Adam were architects who are best remembered for their use of straight lines ornamented with garlands in furniture and architecture. The Banner of the Cinque Ports which is displayed over the fireplace, was presented to Hythe by John Hosgood, whilst serving as Mayor in 1980.