Ebbsfleet shown within Kent
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||South Thanet|
Ebbsfleet is a hamlet near Ramsgate, Kent, at the head of Pegwell Bay. Historically it was a peninsula on the south coast of the Isle of Thanet, marking the eastern end of the Wantsum Channel that separated Thanet from the rest of Kent.
As Pegwell Bay was a natural harbour on the English coast nearest continental Europe, Ebbsfleet has traditionally been linked to arrivals from Europe. It is associated with the landings of the Saxons/Jutes Hengist and Horsa in 449, the Battle of Wippedesfleot between the Britons and "Saxons" in 465, and the reintroduction of Christianity with Augustine of Canterbury in 597. Ebbsfleet is the titular see of the Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet, a provincial episcopal visitor for the Province of Canterbury.
Ebbsfleet Lane marks the line of the peninsula today. The Wantsum Channel silted up and was reclaimed in the 15th century; all that remains of it is the channel of the River Stour, which enters the sea by Richborough power station. There are a couple of houses and Ebbsfleet House at Stonelees, where Ebbsfleet Lane meets the Sandwich road, and Ebbsfleet Farm on the hill behind.
There are prehistoric, Iron Age, Roman and Saxon settlement remains on the peninsula around Ebbsfleet Farm, which may have also been the landing stage for the Roman ferry across the channel to Richborough from Thanet. Claudius landed his army at Richborough on the other side of the channel, to start his invasion of 43AD, and it became a major port of Roman Britain.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it is also the site of the landings made by the "Saxons" in the fifth century AD; an entry states that Hengist and Horsa, on the invitation of Vortigern, King of the Britons, landed in 449 at Ypwines fleot, usually assumed to be Ebbsfleet. Their arrival is commemorated by a monument and replica longship up the coast at Cliffsend. The Battle of Wippedesfleot between the Britons and "Saxons" in 465 is thought to have taken place at Ebbsfleet.
Bede wrote in his History "Over against the eastern districts of Kent there is a large island called Thanet which, in English reckoning, is 600 hides "or families" in extent. It is divided from the mainland by the river Wantsum, which is about three furlongs wide, can be crossed in two places only, and joins the sea at either end. Here Augustine, the servant of the Lord, landed with his companions, who are said to have been nearly forty in number. They had acquired interpreters from the Frankish race according to the command of Pope St Gregory."
This has been interpreted to mean Ebbsfleet was where Augustine landed to convert the Kingdom of Kent to Christianity. In 1884, St Augustine's Cross was erected on the lane between Cliffsend and Sevenscore to commemorate his first sermon in Kent.
Richborough power station situated to the south was operational from 1962 to 1996; the towers were demolished in 2012. The power lines are being reused for the Thanet wind farm in the sea off Broadstairs.
Ebbsfleet Solar Farm is situated on the site of the former Richborough Power Station. It has a capacity of 4.9 MWp and became operational in August 2011. The solar farm is part of a larger ongoing project, Richborough Energy Park.
- Keith Briggs, The two Ebbsfleets in Kent. Journal of the English Place-Name Society 44, 5–9
- Date and text of the inscription.