Marsh has a long and rich history associated with smuggling, and as dusk
falls it is easy to conjure up images of
contraband being carried through the misty marshes of those bygone days.
The flatlands, once covered by the sea, have slowly been reclaimed over
the centuries to create a most beautiful landscape. Indeed the countryside
around the Marsh and down to the beaches is rich agricultural land which
is unsuitable for commercial use. This characteristic is possibly why these
mysterious flatlands have always had such a strong appeal. Defence has played
an important role in the area over the centuries.
During the Middle Ages, long before an established Naval force, New Romney,
considered as the capital of the Marsh, was a Cinque Port (pronounced 'sink').
Fourteen towns and villages stretching from Margate to Rye were commissioned
by the Crown to supply ships and men to defend its coastline from invading
forces. As a reward for their services Cinque Ports gained a variety of
privileges, which included exemption from tax. As you travel along the coast
roads of the Marsh you cannot miss the distinctive pudding-shaped Martello
towers that formed part of the coastal defences built in the early eighteen
hundreds, when the threat of invasion by Napoleon was at its strongest.
Although never used for their original purpose the towers remained a strong
deterrent for would-be invaders for many years.
Today, the Marsh area carries more of an air of tranquillity, the isolation
has been of great benefit to the beaches and some of the cleanest in the
UK are to be found here. So whether you prefer sand or shingle, all you
need to do is relax and soak up the panoramic views in an atmosphere of
If sand is what you are looking for then the five-mile stretch at Dymchurch
is sure to please. Dymchurch, interestingly, was once the headquarters of
law and order for the area. The governors of the Marsh resided here and
were known as 'The Lords of the Levels' and administered swift justice to
anyone who endangered the well-being of the Marsh.
It was also from here, at the Ship Hotel, that the author Russell Thorndike
penned many of his infamous stories about 'Dr. Syn', a marauding smuggler
by night and vicar by day. Much of Thorndike's inspiration was borne from
the local smuggling and law breaking that took place on the Marsh. The whole
region is full of interesting towns and villages to occupy your curiosity.
New Romney offers a good assortment of coffee shops, cafes and pubs. Here
you will also find the main station for the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway,
which also contains a fascinating toy museum. Lydd boasts one of the tallest
churches in Kent, the 13th century All Saints which has links to Cardinal
Wolsley who, prior to his meteoric rise to fame, was rector of Lydd. Medieval
churches, numbering thirteen in all, are yet another aspect of this unique
area. Romney Marsh certainly offers a distinctive blend of picturesque countryside
combined with a host of interesting places and attractions to suit everyone.
Note also, that if you wish to explore further afield the topography of
the Marsh area is ideally suited for both walking and cycling. In other
words - no hills!