Isle of Thanet - Encyclopedia

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ISLE OF THANET, the extreme north-eastern corner of Kent, England, insulated by the two branches of the river Stour, and forming one of the eight parliamentary divisions of the county. Its name is said to be derived from Saxon tene, a beacon or fire (probably from the number of watch-fires existing on this easily ravaged coast), and numerous remains of Saxon occupation have been found, as at Osengal near Ramsgate. Thanet is roughly oblong in form, its extreme measurements being about 8 m. from E. to W., and 5 m. from N. to S. The branches of the Stour dividing near Sarre take the place of the former Wantsume, a sea-passage which had diminished in breadth to half a mile in the time of Augustine. The Wantsume was guarded by the Roman strongholds of Regulbium (Reculver) in the north and Rutupiae (Richborough) in the south, and was crossed by ferries at Sarre and Wade. With the drying up of this channel and the closing of Sandwich harbour in the 16th century, the present marshlands or level to the south and west of the isle were left. The sea-face of Thanet consists mainly of bold slopes or sheer cliffs, and the eastern extremity is the fine headland of the North Foreland. Containing the popular seaside resorts of Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate and Westgate, Thanet is served by the South-Eastern & Chatham railway, and Minster is a junction station of the lines to Ramsgate and Sandwich respectively.

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