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The Cinque Ports and Antient Towns


The "Cinque Ports and Antient Towns" were granted unique rights and privileges by Henry III in respect of Ship Service rendered to King and Country in keeping the English Channel free of enemy shipping.  The formation of a fleet drawn from five south coast ports is, however, thought to date from the time of Edward the Confessor in the 11th century.  The name "Cinque Ports" was already in use by the reign of Henry II (1154 - 1189).

The Cinque Ports (pronounced "sink") are:

Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, New Romney and Hythe.

The "Antient Towns" are:

Rye and Winchelsea.

Each of the Ports has one or more "Limbs" or "Members".  At one time, there were 23 limbs covering an extensive area from Seaford in Sussex to Brightlingsea in Essex.  Only 10 remain:


Seaford and Pevensey


Fordwich, Deal and Ramsgate


Folkestone, Faversham and Margate

New Romney:





Responsibility for the ports was originally vested in the Lord Warden (now a purely ceremonial appointment).  Originally, the Lord Warden was responsible for various local courts, including the Court of Shepway, the Court of Chancery, the Court of Admiralty and the Court of Lodemanage.