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Huguenot refugees

The 'asylum seekers' of the 16th and 17th centuries were Protestants fleeing from Catholic repression in France. There were several hundred thousand shocked and bewildered refugees, almost all of whom could not speak English - a huge influx by any standards, especially for those days.

They were officially welcomed, and many set up business as craftsmen, merchants and professional people in Kent. In Sandwich they set up as weavers and market gardeners, bringing the carrot from Holland to grow in similar drained marshes. In Canterbury, they were allowed to worship in a side chapel of the cathedral. In both towns you can see old half-timbered weavers' houses.

More information:
Protestant refugees