Court of Shepway
|In the beginning, the Ports retained the
right to act independently in local matters and various privileges were
granted by Royal Charter to individual ports. After the establishment
of the Court of Shepway in the mid 12th century, with jurisdiction
over all of the Ports, the various rights were gradually consolidated.
The Court of Shepway is the oldest of the courts of the Cinque Ports. It was presided over by the Lord Warden who sat, with freemen of the various Ports at a place called Shepway Cross, at Lympne, near Hythe.
As well as conducting judicial business, the Court conveyed the King's commands to the Portsmen and submitted their representations to the Crown. Over time, these functions passed to the Lord Warden’s courts at Dover. Since the 16th century, the Court's main function has been the installation of new Lords Warden.