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upwards of thirty years ago. Of this once famous port but few traces remain, the sea having swallowed up the whole of the ancient station of Regulbium, the northern boundary of the great Portus Rutupiensis of the Romans, many of whose coins, particularly of the reigns of Tiberius, Honorius, and Severus, and fragments of domestic pottery, have been discovered on the spot. A few vestiges of its ancient Castle and Pharos, built by the Emperor Severus in the year 205, are still visible under the hedge, adjoining the wall of the Churchyard.
Reculver is now, however, chiefly interesting for its ancient CHURCH, and double spire. On the site of the palace of King Ethelred, who retired to this stronghold of Raculf-cester, on his conversion to Christianity by St. Augustine, was afterwards erected the monastery of Raculfminster, with its church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in the reign of Egbert, about the year 669.* Venerable Bede mentions that Berthwald, the successor of Archbishop Theodore, was abbot of Raculf in 692, when he was elected to the Archbishopric. A portion of the ruins still reveal their early origin, particularly the Saxon doorway between the towers. Immediately over this relic of a far distant age, is the record, that the western front of the church is kept in repair as a landmark, by the Corporation of the Trinity House. The
* Bede's Church History, p. 280.
ailes and chancel of this once collegiate church, its Dean and Chapter having merged into those of Canterbury at the Conquest, lie desolate and in ruins, having been given up, in our day, by its own people to the sea, and to the less tender mercies of the Pilots’ Company. But the beautiful and pathetic legend of the Shipwrecked Sisters, still draws many a visitor from the neighbouring watering places.
The family of St. Claire towards the close of the desolating wars of the rival Roses, had become extinct in the direct male line on the death of Sir Geoffrey de St. Claire, who had wedded the Lady Margaret de Boys, by whom he left twin daughters and co-heiresses, Frances and Isabella, the sisters' of the legend. Their guardian and uncle was John de St. Claire, Abbot of St. Augustine's in Canterbury. Frances, the elder, having evinced a decided predilection for a religious life, took the veil, and became, in time, Abbess of the Benedictine Convent at Faversham. Isabella, who till that moment had never been separated from her sister, was only after much dissuasion on the part of her relatives, prevented from following her example. The lordly Abbot was desirous of uniting his niece to Henry de Belville, a rising favourite at the court of Edward IV., attached to the person of the Duke of Gloucester. Every preparation for the nuptials had been completed, when the death of the King, called De Belville away from
his anticipated happiness, to accompany his new sovereign, King Richard, to the battle of Bosworth Field. Fighting by the side of the King, he was wounded, and removed to the monastery of Black Friars at Leicester, where he died. When these tidings reached the Lady Isabella, she determined, in the quiet of the cloister, to seek that consolation, which the world cannot give, and took the veil in the convent over which her sister
presided. Here the lives of the sisters were passed in happy quiet for fourteen years, when the Lady Abbess was attacked with one of those malignant fevers, still prevalent in those marshes, and which baffled the skill of those who attended her. In the hour of danger, the sisters besought the Blessed Virgin to pity their distress, making the vow of a pilgrimage, with an offering, to her shrine at Broadstairs, if by her intercession the fever should be removed.
The chapel of Our Lady of Broadstairs* was on the sea, near York Gate, in that town, and the image of the Virgin held in such veneration, that ships, as they passed by, lowered their topsails, whilst they repeated the ora pro nobis. Its double towers formed a well-known landmark on that
* At BROADSTAIRS is an elegant Chapel of Ease to St. Peter's. The ruin of York Gate was repaired by Sir John Henniker, in 1795, and near the gate are the remains of the Chapel of the legend, now converted into a dwelling-house. Many Roman coins have been found here.