The Confederation is a unique association of maritime towns and villages in Kent and East Sussex, dating back 1000 years.

In the centuries before the Tudor Kings of England first developed a standing navy, the men and ships of the Cinque Ports provided a fleet to meet the military and transportation needs of their Royal masters. With good reason, these small ports have been dubbed the Cradle of the Royal Navy.

The Confederation and its member towns have faced many threats over the 1000 years since the Ports first came together. Some were the result of hostile action, most recently during the Second World War. Others were natural like the “decade of storms” in the 13th century, which seriously damaged many of their harbours and even resulted in the complete destruction, by the sea, of the old town of Winchelsea. Today the Ports are again in the “front line”, facing a new threat and the Confederation, at a meeting on 20 November 2019, unanimously approved the following resolution:

“The Confederation of the Cinque Ports recognises that we are facing a climate and ecological emergency and urges all members, the Ports, Ancient Towns and Limbs, now to commit resources and align policies to address this, setting a target date of carbon neutrality from their activities and monitoring progress annually.”



The Cinque Ports first came together in order to render Ship Service to the English Crown in return for valuable privileges, during late Saxon or early Norman times; reaching the peak of their power and prestige some 200 to 300 years later. Their naval service was last called upon in 1596, to meet the threat of the Spanish Armada.

Few of their ancient rights and privileges survive, but the Confederation continues to promote public awareness of the proud history and seafaring traditions of communities which played a key role in the early development of Great Britain as a naval and economic superpower.

The old Norman French word for five, cinque is pronounced “sink” rather than “sank” in this corner of England!


Discover the fascinating Cinque Ports history

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Discover the people who made the history, and those of today

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