The History of Dover
The ancient town of Dover is set within the garden county of Kent, in the south eastern reaches of England and is home to over 28K people. Its rich and intriguing history extends as far back as the Stone Age farmers who first worked the land and settled here. When the invading Roman legions arrived in their droves who were led by Julius Caesar the small settlement grew and prospered. With their knowledge, and expertise brought from Rome came the fortification of the town with the building of a fort, two lighthouses or Pharos, one of which still can be seen today, Barracks, Bath Houses, and other buildings, and the renaming of the town to Portus Dubris.
Its location, being the closest to the Continent, and having the narrowest part of the English Channel to navigate with the Dover Strait that links England's shores to Europe, led to its prosperity, with a secured trading route both in goods, and the ferrying of people. After the Roman's left, the Anglo Saxons continued to enjoy the proven trade links, and it soon became necessary to establish a Mint and the production of coin in the 10th Century, together with the erection of a church that was dedicated to St Mary in Castro , which remains today.
The 11th Century was a pivotal point with England's history and heralded the arrival of William the Conqueror whose army marched undaunted across the land changing the face of England forever. Dover saw its fair share of the conquering Normans with the fortification of the town when the castle was built, and the raising to the ground of existing buildings. Peace remained until the 13th Century when the French arrived and again burned the town, however, construction continued with churches and even hospitals being built such as Maison Dieu which is now home to the Town Hall and survives today even though it was built in 1203 for the increasing number of Pilgrims who were visiting the town. This moment in time also saw the height of the Cinque Ports, which was established centuries before and involved a service to the King by having ships, and men ready from the 5 ports concerned of Hastings , Sandwich , Hythe , Romney and of course Dover which saw the creation of the Cinque Ports in Edward the Confessor 's time.
The 15th Century saw the sweeping dereliction of the churches, and monasteries with the Reformation initiated by Henry VIII when he declared himself the head of the Church of England after he fell out with Rome when they refused permission for his divorce. 1665 brought the devastating Plague, and the Black Death with a great loss of life, and a short while after, the arrival of Charles II who landed here on his way to claim the crown when the monarchy was finally restored after the bloody battles fought during the Civil War . War was again on the agenda in the 18th Century with the Napoleonic War which saw Dover becoming a Garrison town and building barracks to house the army that stood firm in repelling the French.
The railways arrived in the 19th Century, RNLI took over the running of the Lifeboat in 1855, and the welcome arrival of Gas Lighting in the streets occurred. The twentieth Century saw Dover's white Cliffs forever immortalised by the Forces Sweetheart Vera Lynn , when she sang her poignant song "They'll be bluebirds over" in 1942, and the use of the network of underground tunnels carved in the rock during the Napoleonic Wars which provided a safe haven when used for the planning of Dunkirk which again placed the important town of Dover firmly on the map.