New Romney

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New Romney
New Romney Church Tower - New Romney - Kent - June 2007.jpg
New Romney Church tower
Grid reference: TR066249
Location: 50°59’6"N, 0°56’28"E
Population: 6,953  (2001)
Post town: Tonbridge
Postcode: TN28
Dialling code: 01797
Local Government
Council: Folkestone & Hythe
Folkestone and Hythe

New Romney is a small town in Kent, on the edge of Romney Marsh, an area of flat, rich agricultural land reclaimed from the sea after the harbour began to be silted up. New Romney was once a sea port, with the harbour adjacent to the church, but is now more than a mile from the sea. It is the headquarters of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

New Romney is not significantly different in age from the nearby village of Old Romney. However New Romney, now about a mile and a half from the seafront, was originally a harbour town at the mouth of the River Rother. The Rother estuary was always difficult to navigate, with many shallow channels and sandbanks.

Local tradition has it that to make navigation easier in the estuary, two large rocks, one bigger than the other, were placed at the entrance to the main channel, and the names of two villages, Greatstone and Littlestone, are a reminder of these aids. Another possible explanation for these place-names is a result of the effects of longshore drift, which disperses shingle and sand deposits, from west to east, with heavier stones accumulating in the area known as Greatstone, while far smaller shingle is to be found in great quantities at Littlestone. Very fine sand is found further east at neighbouring St Mary's Bay.

In the latter part of the thirteenth century a series of severe storms weakened the coastal defences of Romney Marsh, and the Great Storm of 1287 almost destroyed the town. The harbour and town were filled with sand, silt, mud and debris, and the River Rother changed course to run out into the sea near Rye in Sussex. The mud, silt and sand were never entirely removed from the town, which is why many old buildings, especially the church, have steps leading down into them from the present pavement level.

New Romney is one of the original Cinque Ports, although its importance declined rapidly during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries after the loss of the harbour.

Archaeological investigations in 2007 during replacement of the town's main drainage have cast new light on the mediæval origins and development of the town.[1]

During Second World War a fleet of floating concrete harbour sections (called Mulberry Harbours) were towed across the English Channel to France to aid the Allied landings. One of these harbour pieces remains, embedded in a sandbank just off the coast by Littlestone-on-Sea, and is clearly visible at low tide. Further up the coast during the Pipe Line Under The Ocean, or PLUTO, oil was pumped to France under the English Channel for use by allied forces.

New Romney is the main centre of population on the Romney Marsh. John Southland's Community Comprehensive School, the only secondary school in the area, was renamed The Marsh Academy in August 2007.

Like many towns on the marsh it has an impressive Norman church in the centre of town. This church originally stood at the harbourside, and its entrances are several feet below ground level. The church is also notable for the boat hooks still evident on the side walls.

New Romney's historic high street has several small and interesting shops. A few businesses closed after the opening of a branch of a chain supermarket, but the town retains much of its character. The former almshouses in West Street are noted historic buildings of Kent; they were founded in 1610 by John Southland, an important local magnate, and rebuilt in 1734. Adjacent to these is Plantagenet House and No 3 Old Stone Cottage, which originated as a single house constructed c1300–1350, (Archaeology South East, UCL, report by David Martin, 2004). Researchers think it was originally the home of the Master of The Hospital of St John the Baptist, a large secular establishment. The hospital was operating by c1260 and flourished until the close of the c15th (Victoria History and a report by Dr Gillian Draper in the possession of the writer).

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway has a station at the extreme south of New Romney, which as well as being a major tourist attraction is used by pupils commuting to school. The station is about three quarters of a mile south of the historic town centre. To the same distance north is the links golf course at Littlestone-on-Sea. The golf course was a favourite of Denis Thatcher, late husband of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and has been used several times for the qualifying rounds of The Open Championship.

New Romney is easily accessible by road, sitting astride the A259 (which runs from Dover to Portsmouth). Several bus services run to and through New Romney from Hastings, Folkestone and Ashford.


  • Newspapers:
    • The Romney Marsh Herald
    • The Kentish Express
    • The Folkestone and Hythe Extra
    • yourshepway
    • Radio: KMFM Shepway and White Cliffs Country

In 1951 the Richard Burton, Roger Livesey, and Honor Blackman film Green Grow the Rushes was made on location in and around New Romney and in nearby St Mary in the Marsh.

See also


  1. Canterbury Archaeological Trust, New Romney Unearthed (web page) [1]; Canterbury's Archaeology 2004–2005, ' Kent Sites PDF' [2] and 'Post Excavation and Research PDF' [3]
    Gillian Draper and Frank Meddens, The Sea and the Marsh: The Mediæval Cinque Port of New Romney revealed through archaeological excavations and historical research, Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd (2009) [4]
The Cinque Ports
Cinque Ports Antient Towns Limbs

Hastings  • New Romney  • Hythe  • Dover  • Sandwich

Rye  • Winchelsea

Lydd  • Folkestone  • Faversham  • Margate  • Deal  • Ramsgate  • Brightlingsea  • Tenterden