Local History: The History of the Cinque Ports

Ref: C3740204

This course will explore the many towns and ports which came to be known as the 'Cinque Ports' from their origins, their indispensable provision of ships and crew for the Crown and their subsequent failure to keep their harbours open. The impact of their unique history can still be seen today.

Course aim

To highlight the unique status of the cinque ports in the medieval history of Kent and Sussex and thereby encourage visits to discover their many special characteristics which can still be seen today.

Who is the course for?

An understanding of English

What topics will this course cover

Using maps, charts, photographs and documents we will locate and identify the Cinque Ports and examine their origins around the time of the Norman Conquest. We can chart their progress and how they became indispensable as providers of ships and crew. Their special status came with privileges which set them apart from other towns. Changes in the geography of the coastline however, affected them all and this we can demonstrate in various ways. The course will conclude by showing the impact of these changes on the history of Kent and Sussex and on the individual towns which can still be seen today.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1 Name the five Cinque Ports 2 Describe three of the special privileges granted by the Crown 3 Explain with reference to one port how it was affected by coastal changes 4 List three of the Lord Wardens including the current one 5 Show a visitor where to find an object or feature that demonstrates the special status of two of the ports

How will I know I'm making progress?

There will be regular reviews where participation in discussion will be important for showing progress

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

You may want to write notes and therefore paper and a pen might be useful

Reading and information sources

Not essential

What could the course lead to?

Local Historical Societies always welcome new members Kent Archaeological Society and Canterbury Archaeological Trust have good websites with information about events such as conferences Local libraries will have books and articles on the cinque ports and medieval history, both local and national

Download full course outline

Local History: The History of the Cinque Ports Course Outline


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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