What’s in Old Romney
Old Romney is a very small village lying both sides of the main coast road, the A259, and The Manor House is about a quarter of a mile from the road.
Situated right at the heart of Romney Marsh, it is surrounded by farmland.
St. Clement’s medieval church is just across the lane from us and is a lovely, pretty church constructed in the 1100s, though there is evidence of an 8th century building being here. It was made famous in the Disney film “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow” in 1963, starring Patrick McGoohan, when it was used to portray the church in Dymchurch where smugglers stored their contraband. Derek Jarman, the creative film maker and gardener, is buried in the churchyard.
Across the main road from us is a country pub serving food with a very pleasant beer garden. There is also a cafe for lunchtimes with an excellent reputation and, while you eat, you can have your car washed next door.
Romney Marsh is covered in quiet lanes and footpaths and we have a footpath right outside that leads to New Romney.
Old Romney History
The name Romney is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon, Romm, meaning Ram’s Island, originally a small rise on the marshes where sheep were kept out of the water.
You will see many sheep in the area, often in the fields surrounding us and the church.
Hundreds of years ago, the River Rother flowed down from The Weald at Appledore, then meandered across marshland and flowed past Old Romney and out to sea at the huge natural harbour of New Romney. The river was large enough for 250 Viking longships to sail past here and up to Appledore in 893. The nearby ruins of Midley Church stand on what was once an island in the middle of the river.
In 1287, a terrible storm blocked the mouth of The Rother with shingle and sand. To help clear this and river silt deposits, a straight channel was dug from Appledore to Old Romney where it joined the smaller river that still managed to run through. A ”reservoir“ was built near Appledore where water from The Rother was stored. A sluice gate, a few miles upstream at Snargate, was opened when the reservoir was full and the tide was out with the aim to flush the river channel and harbour with this gush of water. It worked to some extent but by about 1400, it was left to silt up completely.
The soil excavated to widen and deepen the channel was used to make huge banks each side of the channel. This was called the Rhee Wall which also acted as a flood defence. Remnants of this can still be seen around Old Romney.