That the castle had been returned to the control of Becket, as archbishop of Canterbury, and remained a church property until the reign of Henry VIII, when Hythe and Saltwood were to be sequestrated to the Crown, leads to the implication that some complicity in the murder of Becket, by the baron Rranulf de Broc was possible. It was during this time at Saltwood, on December the 28th, 1170, four knights plotted the death of Becket, which took place the following day. Hugh de Moreville was one of the four knights that assassinated Thomas-a-Becket, along with Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracey, and Richard le Breton.
Hythe is mentioned in the Domesday Survey and for many centuries there was a close connection with successive kings and archbishops.
After the Norman Conquest, the name of 'Cinque Ports" was given to the ports of Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich in return for the obligation to provide ships and men for the monarch, to protect the south-east shores from invasion and provide cross-Channel passage for the sovereign and his retinue.
The oldest Cinque Port Charter was granted to Hythe as long ago as 1278, in the reign of Edward the First and is still held by Hythe Town Council with other charters from Richard the Second dated 1392 and Elizabeth the First dated 1575.
During the next few centuries, the Town continued as a south coast port, but in gradual decline.
The harbour began to silt up very slowly, despite strenuous dredging efforts, and gradually become impossible to use. The threat of invasion arose again at the end of the 18th Century, this time from Napoleon. This threat led to the construction of the famous Martello Towers and the Royal Military Canal.
Many of the present road names in Hythe provide associations with this period. At this time the present Town Hall was built. The work being completed in 1794 removing the need for all town meetings to take place in the church. Until recent years the building was used as a Magistrates Court. The chamber itself, overlooking the High Street, contains not only paintings and other works relating to Hythe but a roll of Mayors and bailiffs of the Town dating from 1349.
The Parish Church, originally a Norman structure, was expanded in about 1175 to provide a larger nave. The transepts were added in the 13th Century. The chancel was rebuilt to provide the ambulatory and a tower was added. In the 18th Century the south transept was rebuilt and in vaults below it are buried members of the family who financed the work. The ossuary, in the ambulatory, contains human bones; it is thought of 14th and 15th Century origins that may have been exhumed when new graves were dug. Hythe has many links with history.
See the remains of the Roman port of Portus Lemanis at Stutfall, the castles of Lympne and Saltwood and the ruins of St. Mary's Church at West Hythe. Using the path that runs from Lympne to the Royal Military Canal and from Lympne Castle, it is possible to see the ruins of the Roman port.
The Town's medieval records of the 14th Century are said to be of international importance.
Sir Francis Pettit 1812-1874 invented the screw propeller in 1836. He lived at 31 High Street, Hythe. Lionel Lukin 1742-1834 invented the self-righting lifeboat in 1785. He is buried in Hythe Parish Churchyard.
The large 11th century church can be found high above the town, some way up the hill; the tower at its eastern end was destroyed by an earth tremor in 1739 and restored in 1750.
The chancel, dating from 1220, covers a processional ossuary – a bone store, more commonly found on the continent – lined with 200 skulls and 8,000 thighbones. They date from the medieval period, probably having been stored after removal, to make way for new graves. This was a common practice in England during the period but bones were usually dispersed, and this is thus a rare collection.
Lionel Lukin credited with the invention of the lifeboat, is buried in the parish church yard of Hythe.