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30 October 2014

Reculver Towers

As I've mentioned in a couple of other recent posts we were back in the UK (and subsequently Spain and France) for a month from the end of July.  Yes, as usual I am a little behind!  The first stop on the packed itinerary was Kent where my parents and the majority of my family live.  We all spent a few days there before my husband and my stepsons went to Spain and I stayed on a bit longer to spend some time with my parents as I hadn't seen them properly since the previous summer.

Whilst we were all there we had a couple of day trips out which included the obligatory trip to the fabulous Wildwood, a place I've mentioned before, for my youngest stepson who loves it.  On the way back to my parents I suggested a little detour to a ruin nearby, Reculver Towers, somewhere I've always been fond of and fascinated with.  The weather for the first part of our trip back to the UK was very good but this day was a little cooler.  The towers are very exposed on the top of a cliff overlooking the sea so whilst not cold it was definitely fresh.  However that didn't stop us and the exploring began.


Approach to the towers

As I said Reculver Towers are an imposing landmark and noticeable from some distance away.  The towers date from the 12th century and are all that remains of a ruined church which stood in the midst of the site of a Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort and a Saxon monastery.  Having done a little further research the Saxon Shore was a military command of the late Roman Empire which was made up of a number of fortifications on both sides of the English Channel.  Several of these fortifications still exist today of which four are in Kent, Reculver being one of them.

The coast line has changed greatly since the towers were built and much of the site has been lost to the sea.  The edge of the beach below now reaches the towers which still act as a navigation point for shipping in the area.  The towers are in an area of Kent known as the Isle of Thanet, today it is no longer an island as the land has since silted up but two thousand years ago The Wantsum (a sea channel up to three miles wide) cut off the Isle from the mainland.  The Roman fort stood on a promontory at the north end of this channel.  After the Romans abandoned the fort at Reculver an Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded and the church built.  The church was partly demolished in 1805 but the twin towers were left.  



Reculver is not somewhere you'll spend a long time at so is perfect for a quick stop after visiting somewhere else in the area.  It's fun to explore though and imagine what it would once have looked like.  Of course, being a ruin in a relatively lonely spot all sorts of ghost stories have sprung up over the years, who knows if any of them have any truth to them.

Our afternoon was rounded off with a light late lunch in a pub nearby, a lovely start to our trip back to the UK.  So if you are in the area, like history or lonely windswept spots Reculver is definitely worth taking a look at.



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