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The History of Kent

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History of Reculver

Reculver means the 'Great headland', referring to the promontory upon which the Roman fort stood, overlooking the once tidal River Wantsum. The Domesday Book chronicles Reculver as Roculf.

Following the Roman occupation,
Reculver became a seat of the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent. They built a monastery on the site of the abandoned fort in about 669, when King Ecgberht granted land for its foundation. Reculver soon became an important Kentish house, with its abbot, Bertwald, elected Archbishop of Canterbury, in 692. In 679, King Hlothhere granted the monastery lands in the western part of Thanet. The original, 7th century charter, references Reculver as a 'civitas' or 'city'.

Following repeated Viking incursions, they abandoned the minster and by the 10th century, it had become
Reculver parish church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. King Eadred gave it to Canterbury Cathedral. In the 12th century, the Normans extended it with the construction of two towers.


In 43AD, Reculver had been over a mile from the sea, by 1809 the cliff became so close that the villagers panicked. They decided that the village and church should be moved a mile inland. The new building incorporated much of the old church. The two towers remained as a landmark for shipping.