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You are in: Kent > History > Local History > Isle of Thanet


Reculver guarded the Wantsum Channel

Isle of Thanet

Thanet hasn't always had such a close connection with the rest of Kent but why is it called an island?

Hamish Reid byline

When the English Channel was formed by the sea breaking through, an island of chalk was left on the east side of the county. It was separated from the rest of Kent by the Wantsum Channel.

The Wantsum Channel was originally up to two miles wide, and as you drive towards the peninsular you can see where it once was. The Channel was protected by Richborough Castle at the western end (built by the Romans) and Reculver Fort guarded the other. The first bridge across to the island was built in 1485 and even as late as the mid 1700's there was a ferry from Sandwich.

Historic map of Thanet

Thanet as it was when the Romans were in Kent.

Over the course of the last millennium, the channel became silted up with silt from the River Stour and the shingle which was building up along the coast helped join Thanet to the rest of Kent.

The land, where the Wantsum Channel once was, is still only a few feet above sea level, and in 1953 the island was cut off once more. The sea defences have since been strengthened since, but if you walk along the sea walls from Reculver you will see just how low the land lies.

Even today there are remains of the small harbours and quays in the villages that bordered Wantsum Channel.

Even today it's still called the Isle of Thanet, but where does "Thanet" come from? We've a few suggestions - some more spooky than others!

last updated: 27/05/2008 at 15:58
created: 15/05/2006

You are in: Kent > History > Local History > Isle of Thanet

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