SITTINGBOURNE, a market town in the Faversham parliamentary division of Kent, England, on a navigable creek of the Swale, 44f m. E.S.E. of London by the South Eastern and Chatham railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 8943. It consists principally of one long street (the Roman Watling Street) and the northern suburb of Milton, a separate urban district (pop. 7086), celebrated for its oysters, the fishery of which used to employ a large number of the inhabitants. Brick and cement making is an important industry, and there are corn and paper mills. The export trade in corn and import trade in coal is considerable. St Michael's church, originally Early English, underwent extensive restoration in 1873. An earthwork known as Castle Rough, in the marshes below Milton, was probably the work of Hasten the Dane in 892, and Bayford Castle, a mile distant, occupies the site of one said to have been built in opposition by King Alfred. Tong Castle is about 2 m. E. of Sittingbourne It consists of a high mound surrounded by a moat, and is said to have been erected by Hengest. Fragments of masonry exist about the mound. The story of the founding of the castle resembles that connected with the city of Carthage. Vortigern is said to have granted Hengest as much land as an ox-hide could encompass, and the hide being cut into strips the site of Tong Castle was accordingly marked out. The same tradition attaches to Tong Castle in Shropshire. Tradition also asserts, according to the 12th century chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth, that it was in Tong Castle that Vortigern met Rowena, Hengest's daughter, and became so enamoured of her as to resign his kingdom to her father In the time of Richard II. Tong Castle belonged to Edmund Mortimer, earl of March.
Sittingbourne (Saedungburna, Sidyngbourn) is mentioned in Saxon documents in 989 and frequently in contemporary records of the 13th and 14th centuries. The first charter was not obtained until 1573, when it was incorporated by Elizabeth under the title of a " guardian and free tenants " of the town of Sittingbourne. A weekly market was granted, two fairs yearly at Whitsuntide and Michaelmas, and many other privileges. This charter obtained until in 1599 a second one incorporated the town by the name of " mayor and jurats " and regranted the market and fairs together with some additional privileges, among others that of returning members to parliament, which, however, was never exercised.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)