Fordwich Town Hall was built in 1544 as a meeting place for the council of England’s smallest town. It has served continuously in this role for nearly 500 years. Fordwich – population less than 400 – is legally a town because in 1184 King Henry II granted it a “Merchant Gild Charter”. This reflected its importance as the nearest port to Canterbury. Lying on the River Stour 2 miles downstream from Canterbury, Fordwich handled all cargo destined for Canterbury including the Caen stone from Normandy that was used to rebuild Canterbury Cathedral after 1066.

The building also housed the town jail, and visitors can enjoy its delights such as a very hard bed and the hatch through which food was pushed. Just outside the entrance to the Town Hall are the stocks where miscreants were trapped by the wrists and ankles while rotten food was thrown at them. And then there’s the crane which was used to lower victims into the river on the “ducking stool”, lovingly preserved in the Court Room upstairs.

Downstairs in the Undercroft visitors can watch a film that explains the background and the history of this beautiful building. And there’s a lift to allow access to the Court Room for visitors in wheel chairs or with mobility issues.

Open from 23 August: visit website for details

  • Opening times:
    • Closed until further notice
    • May to September, Sundays only, 13.30 to 16.00

  • Cost:
    • Adults £2.00
    • Children under 14 Free

King Street, Fordwich, Canterbury, CT2 0DB