What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Victoria, Holborn Viaduct, or St. Paul’s. South-Eastern and Chatham Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Herne Bay. (Reculvers lies 3 miles along the coast.) =Distance from London.=–62-3/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 1-3/4 to 3 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 10s. 6d. 6s. 6d. 5s. 2-1/2d. Return 18s. 5d. 13s. 0d. 10s. 5d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–At Herne Bay–"The Dolphin Hotel," “The Connaught,” “The Grand,” “St. George’s Cliff,” “Pier Hotel,” “Herne Bay Hotel,” etc.; also the “Bungalow Hotel," etc., at Birchington.
About 3 miles to the east of Herne Bay, the twin towers of an old Roman church stand prominently out from the flat marsh-land which stretches between the villages of Herne and Birchington, some 5 miles from the well-known health resort of Margate. Regulbium, now known as Reculver, and Rutupium, or Richborough, near Sandwich, were two Roman stations guarding the entrances to the estuary which formerly separated the Isle of Thanet from the mainland. Regulbium was also used as a lighthouse and watch-tower, because of its commanding position near the mouths of both the Thames and Medway.
After the Roman occupation, Regulbium became one of the chief seats of the Saxon kings, and when, after his conversion to Christianity by St. Augustine, King Ethelbert gave up his palace at Canterbury, he lived there with his court, and his remains were interred in the first church erected on the spot. In the ninth century a Benedictine abbey was founded at Regulbium by a priest named Bapa. A few years after, King Edred granted the abbey to the Monastery of Christchurch at Canterbury, but the society was either removed or dissolved before the Norman Conquest. This practically ends the history of Regulbium, for owing to the steady encroachments of the sea, and to the fact that the estuary continued to fill up, the once populous Roman city was gradually deserted. The present remains consist of parts of the earth-works of the Roman station, and the twin towers and ruined walls of the church. Though the church formerly occupied the centre of the Roman city, the sea has now reached the base of the bank on which the towers stand. In his famous “Brothers of Birchington,” Thomas Ingoldsby says of the twin towers–
They were tall and upright And just equal in height.
Reculvers and the neighbourhood were at one time a favourite resort for smugglers.
[Illustration: RECULVERS FROM THE EAST.]