What to see in New Romney
1 The Renaissance Hotel is really great. Come and visit
2 Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway Station
New Romney Station is the headquarters of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. The engine sheds, workshops and main offices are all located here, as is the Romney Toy and Model Museum. The 15-inch gauge line runs for 14 miles across the Marsh between Hythe and Dungeness. It was built by Capt. J.E.P. Howey, a wealthy motor racing driver and miniature railway enthusiast. The section between Hythe and New Romney was opened in 1927, and the extension to Dungeness opened the following year. The engineer, architect and designer of the Railway was Henry Greenly. He modelled the 1/3 scale steam locomotives on the Pacifics of the London & North Eastern Railway, such as the famous Flying Scotsman. LNER influence was also visible in the original design of New Romney station, with its clock tower, forecourt and track layout, which was reminiscent of King's Cross. However, the station has been extensively altered since 1927.
3 Captain Howey Hotel
This 19th century inn is now named after the founder of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, Captain J.E.P. Howey. It was formerly the Station Hotel. Nearby was the old South Eastern Railway station, at the end of a branch from Appledore on the Ashford to Hastings line. The railway reached Lydd in 1881 and Dungeness in 1883. The extension from Lydd to New Romney opened in 1884. The branch carried both freight and passengers, including visitors to the resort at Littlestone. The line was later taken over by the Southern Railway, who in 1937 re-aligned the route nearer the coast to serve the developing resorts of Lydd-on-Sea and Greatstone-on-Sea. Traffic dwindled after World War II, and the section between Dungeness and New Romney finally closed in 1967. The remaining section still transports waste from the nuclear power station. A trading estate has been built on the site of the old station.
4 The Avenue
The mile-long road between New Romney and Littlestone is known locally as "The Avenue". The northern section, Station Road, was originally named Gun Lane. The southern section, Littlestone Road, was laid out in the 1880s by H.T. Tubbs. Many of the elm trees which he planted had to be felled in 1981-2 after contracting Dutch elm disease. Some have been replaced by flowering cherries and rowans.
This cannon is a reminder that south Kent has often faced the threat of invasion. It is of a type used on the Martello towers which were built all along the coast in the early 19th century to defend against Napoleon. A plaque on the gun carriage bears the following inscription. 5� inch 24 pounder Howitzer cannon Designed by General Blomefield in the nineteenth century for use on Martello towers. Notes on iron carriage for 5� inch iron Howitzer The original carriage was not present when gifted to New Romney Town Council by the Mayor, Major M Teichman Derville OBE JP in 1930. Plans have been taken from original documents, and the Howitzer cannon has now been placed on a skeleton carriage used in the nineteenth century. Refurbishment of the cannon and fabrication of the carriage has been made possible by Lyddweld SE Ltd Steel fabricators, Lydd Another cannon, without a carriage, is displayed outside the Sergeant's House in the High Street.
6 Jubilee Water Fountain
The pink granite water fountain was placed on the green at the instigation of the entrepreneur Henry T. Tubbs. The inscription reads: Erected by public subscription to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria 1897.
7 Mulberry Harbour
Off Littlestone Sea Front
At low tide, this section of the Mulberry Harbour is visible off the coast. During World War II about 250 of these huge hollow reinforced concrete blocks, called "Phoenix caissons", were constructed and filled with compressed air. Some were stored in the East Bay, off Littlestone. After D-Day they were floated across the Channel to Normandy. Here they combined to form a large harbour where supplies could be brought ashore for Allied troops. One of them ran aground and never reached France.
8 Littlestone Golf Club
St Andrew's Road
The Club was established in 1888 on land bought by the entrepreneurs Henry T. Tubbs and J. Lewis. The original Links was laid out by the first captain, Laidlaw Purves, and since has been improved and altered. Littlestone has hosted many major golfing events, including the qualifying rounds when the Open Championship has been played at Sandwich. Among the celebrities who have played here are Noel Coward, the journalist William Deedes and politicians such as A.J. Balfour, H.H. Asquith and Kenneth Clark. The course is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with a great variety of flora and fauna to be seen.
9 Water Tower
This was built in 1890 by Henry T. Tubbs to supply his properties in Littlestone, including the Golf Club and his proposed housing development. Tubbs wanted to turn Littlestone into a major resort, and embarked on an ambitious building programme, including the Marine Parade and Grand Hotel. His plans for a pier were not realised, however, and it was eventually built at Eastbourne instead. Unfortunately the water supply from the tower was unsuitable, because it contained too much sea water. In 1902 the Littlestone and District Water Company built a tower at Dungeness to supply all of New Romney, Littlestone, Greatstone and Lydd. The tower at Littlestone fell into disuse, but now serves as a residence.
10 Romney Bay House
This secluded house on the sea front was built in the 1920s for the American film actress Hedda Hopper, who later achieved notoriety as a Hollywood gossip columnist. The architect was Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of the famous Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales. It was originally painted bright yellow, and was nicknamed the "Mustard Pot". It is now a hotel.
11 Littlestone Inshore Lifeboat
A lifeboat was first stationed at Littlestone in 1861 when the "Providence" was moved from Dungeness. The station closed again in 1928, and the lifeboat, the fifth to serve here, was moved to Hythe. Records show that it had only three service launches during sixteen years at Littlestone. However, in 1966 a smaller, lighter craft was positioned here. The present lifeboat, the fourth, is an Atlantic 21 type which arrived in 1988. Its name, "The Lady Dart and Long Life II" honours the fundraising activities of the ladies' darts team from the nearby "Seahorse" pub. It carries a crew of 3, has a length of 6.9m (22ft 9in), a speed of 29 knots, and an endurance of 3 hours at maximum speed.
At the seaward end of Dunes Road, the "Jolly Fisherman" pub marks the heart of Greatstone, which lies at the centre of the residential development stretching along the coast from Littlestone to Lydd-on-Sea. Before the sea receded Greatstone marked the southern shore of the entrance to Romney harbour. Like Camber, it has extensive sand dunes covered with marram grass, which provide a haitat for a variety of wildlife. In 1937 the Southern Railway opened a station near here on its New Romney branch, but the line closed in 1967. There is still a Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway station serving "Romney Sands" holiday camp. Nearby can be seen the concrete remains of the experimental sound reflectors put up by the War Department during the 1930s.
13 Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway
Half Mile Curve
The footpath through the Shrubs between Church Lane and Dunes Road crosses a stretch of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway known as Half Mile Curve. The line between Hythe and New Romney opened in 1927, and the Dungeness extension, of which this is part, in 1928. Originally there were two tracks here, but after the Second World War the line between New Romney and Dungeness was singled. A short distance to the north, parallel to the RH&DR, is the course of the South Eastern Railway standard gauge branch line from Appledore to New Romney, which was closed in 1967.
14 Maude Memorial Grounds
These grounds were left to the town for use by sports teams in 1925 by Alderman F.W. Maude. Maude was President of New Romney's football and cricket clubs, and both still play matches here. There is also a croquet lawn. Hockey, however, is no longer played, and the old tennis courts were ploughed up during World War II. The Romney Revels, an annual fun-fair, was held here until the sixties, and enjoyed a brief revival a few years later.
15 Ship Hotel
The original Ship Hotel dates from about 1492. The present building was constructed on earlier foundations. Below ground were tunnels used by smugglers to hide their contraband, but these are now blocked off. For a period during the 20th century the Ship housed a cinema, until it moved to the Assembly Rooms in Church Approach.
16 St Nicholas' Church
This is the only survivor of New Romney's four medieval churches. Much of the building is Norman, apart from the top stage of the tower and the East end, including the chancel, which date from the 14th century Decorated period. Dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of sailors (and of children), it is a reminder that the town was once a flourishing port. Ships tied up alongside the churchyard until a great storm in 1287 diverted the course of the River Rother away from Romney. The height of the flood waters can still be seen from the stains on the pillars inside. The 100ft tower holds eight bells. It formerly had a spire, which was pulled down at the end of the 18th century.
17 Assembly Rooms
The Assembly Rooms were built in the 17th century to accommodate the Courts of Brodhul (Brotherhood) and Guestling of the Cinque Ports, which previously met in St Nicholas' Church. During the 20th century the Assembly Rooms have been used for social functions, society meetings and as a polling station. They also housed a cinema for a period. At the north-west end is an old school room which is dated 1676.
18 Burma Star Memorial
The inscription of this memorial reads: Burma Star Association The Romney Marsh Branch To the memory of those who died and those who served in the Burma campaign 1941-1945 When you go home Tell them of us And say For your tomorrow We gave our today Kohima epitaph
19 Old School
This was one of the first primary schools in Kent. It was built on land left by Mrs Sarah Children in February 1820 and was funded by public subscription. The original building consisted of four classrooms and a two-storey house for the headmaster. After the school moved to a new site in Fairfield Road in 1973 the building was used for a while as a community centre but was later abandoned. It was recently restored with the aid of a Lottery grant by the New Romney Old School Trust. In May 2000 South Kent College moved into the refurbished building. The school's most famous ex-pupil is Peter Imbert, now Lord Imbert of New Romney, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
20 New Inn
The New Inn dates from 1380, though the front of the building is Georgian. Inside some of the fine panelling has been preserved. A bricked up chimney breast indicates a hiding place for smugglers' contraband. In the 18th century, when the mailcoach from Rye to Hythe stopped here, the New Inn served as an early post office, holding parcels for collection. The pub is reputed to be haunted. Gas taps have been mysteriously turned on and strange noises heard. A young woman in old-fashioned clothes was seen sitting by the fireplace. She is said to have suddenly vanished!
21 Sergeant's House and Gaol
The Town Sergeant's House was built in 1750. Inside it still has its old cells with their heavily studded doors. Below was a dungeon, whose grated window can be seen outside at street level. The building was once used as a private residence, and until 1998 housed a Tourist Information Centre. However, the Information Centre has now moved to premises near the church, and the Sergeant's House has reverted to residential use. Against the wall outside is a late 17th century cannon. Another cannon is displayed in Littlestone Road.
22 Town Hall
The original Town Hall was built in 1702 and was supported on pillars above an arcade where a market was held. It was rebuilt around the end of the 19th century as a plain two-storey building. The town had municipal borough status from 1886 to 1974, when most local government functions were moved to Shepway District Council in Folkestone. New Romney retains its mayor, and a town council continues to meet here, though with greatly reduced powers. Many records and artefacts from the Town Hall's small museum were removed to Maidstone in 1974. Still here, however, is the original flag of the Cinque Ports. Shepway District Council offices moved to Magpies in Church Approach in 2001.
23 Cinque Ports Arms
This public house was built in the 18th century, probably on the foundations of an earlier building. The Cinque Ports were a federation of south-eastern ports, the original five being Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich. They were later joined by the Antient Towns of Winchelsea and Rye and by several associate members. In return for providing the Sovereign with ships and sailors the Cinque Ports were granted certain rights and privileges, which began in the Norman era and were consolidated in a Charter granted by Edward I in 1278. They included tax-raising and legislative powers, trade concessions and ceremonial rights. Romney's significance as a port diminished after a great storm in 1287 diverted the River Rother to a new course at Rye. Afterwards the harbour began to silt up and the sea receded, despite all efforts to prevent it. Most of the other Cinque Ports suffered similar fates, and only Dover survives as a port.
24 Old Stone Cottage
Parts of this building, now divided into three separate houses, date from the 12th or 13th century. It may have belonged to a monastery and been used to provide guest accommodation. It is set at an angle from its neighbours on either side, perhaps indicating the original line of the street.
25 Southland's Hospital
These cottages were left by John Southland in 1610 as an "abiding place" or "hospital" for the elderly of New Romney. They have been rebuilt several times since then. An inscription on the building reads: This hospital being the gift of John Southland Gent Anno 1610 was rebuilt at the charge of Sr. Robt. Austen and Sr. Heny. Furnele Bart. Anno 1714 And was further endowed by Thomas Baker Gent Anno 1734 and by Richard Rothwell Daglish MRCS Anno 1908 Renovated 1975 Southland was a local landowner who also made provision in his will for the education of local children. The Trusts he set up are still in existence today. He is commemorated in the names of the local comprehensive school and of a Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway diesel locomotive.
26 Gandhi Tandoori Restaurant
This was formerly a private residence. You can find there an award-winning garden.
27 St John's Priory
This stone wall is all that remains of the Cistercian Priory of St John the Baptist, the site of one of New Romney's lost churches. Particularly noteworthy are the carved grotesques above the doorways. The priory, a religious foundation for men and women, was founded around the end of the 13th century. It must have owned much of the land between the High Street and North Street, and sent the profits earned from that land to its mother church at Pontigny in France. It was dissolved in 1415 and its property seized by Henry V. Eventually the land passed into local ownership.
28 St Martin's Field
On this site at the corner of Ashford Road and Fairfield Road stood St Martin's, the oldest of New Romney's churches. It was built in the 10th century, but was in such poor condition by 1550 that its demolition was authorised by Archbishop Cranmer. The field has also sometimes been known as Neames' Platt or Neames' Field after the adjoining Neames' Bakery which was situated on the corner of Ashford Road and the High Street. The inscription on the sundial by Fairfield Road records that: On the 5th April 1948 this land was presented for the use and enjoyment of the townspeople of New Romney by Alderman John Allen Wiles JP and Mrs Jane Elizabeth Wiles, Mayor and Mayoress 1945-1954. Annual Guy Fawkes celebrations took place here until the 1960s. F�tes and similar events are still held here occasionally. In Summer 2000 a "human" sundial was constructed here by students from Southlands School to commemorate the new millennium. When someone stands at the centre of the sundial, they cast a shadow on an arc of stones in the ground which indicate the hour.
29 Fairfield House
This house, and the road it stands in, take their name from a nearby field which was the site for New Romney's annual Sheep Fair. Traditionally, on 21st August each year, sheep from across the Marsh were brought to market here. On the day after the stock fair a general fair was held. The rich soils of the Marsh produced vast acres of good grazing land. In the bleak, wind-swept environment there developed a hardy breed, which became world-famous. "Romneys" were referred to in the Domesday Book and were later exported all over the world. Such was the importance of the huge Marsh flocks that, upon the outbreak of World War II, they were evacuated before the people! But in the post-war era much of the former grazing land has been converted to arable use and now grows crops such as oilseed rape. The New Romney Sheep Fair has passed into history.
30 Blue Dolphins Hotel & Restaurant
Built in 1507 as a Water Bailiff's cottage, it has been occupied over the years by many diverse businesses. These include netmakers, tanners, cobblers, wine merchants, a coffee house and an academy of music. Below ground level there is a blocked doorway which may lead to a tunnel used by smugglers.
31 Plough Inn
The Plough Inn was built in 1776 and may have served as a Turnpike House on the newly improved Rye to Dover road. With improved roads came faster mailcoaches, which stopped here. There were extensive stables so that the teams of horses could be changed. The front of the building was designed to allow travellers to step straight into their coach. When the coaching era ended, the Plough became a wayside inn again, and the stables were used for storage.
32 Warren Inn
The present building dates back to 1860, though there was an inn here for many years before then. It is partially an example of wooden weather-board construction, which is typical of south Kent and the Weald. The name derives from the nearby rabbit warren. In the 19th century the town's Rabbit Catcher operated in this area. The pub's sign depicts one of the horse races which used to be held here and were popular with the London gentry. The building is said to be haunted by "Old Sid" who committed suicide in an upstairs room.