Lympne Castle

Lympne Castle, Kent
Photo © John Salmon, 2 June 2005

Lympne (pronounced /lɪm/) village is situated on the once sea cliffs above the Romney Marsh in Kent. It lies approximately 11 km (7 miles) west of Folkestone, 2 miles west of Hythe and 17 km (11 miles) east of Ashford.

In Roman times Lympne was known as "Portus Lemanis", from which the modern name is derived. It lay at the end of the Roman road from Canterbury, known today as Stone Street. It was the location of a "Saxon Shore fort", and, according to the Roman "Notitia Dignitatum", it was garrisoned by a "numerus Turnacensium" from Tournai in northern Gaul.[1] Its remains are situated at the bottom of the south-facing cliffs. In Anglo-Saxon times the fort was given the name "Stutfall", meaning "fold in which a stud, or herd, is kept".[2]

St. Stephens church and Lympne Castle overlook Romney Marsh, the church being significantly older, and close by Lympne Hill figures in the Doctor Syn stories.

In the 1930s Lympne Aerodrome was the starting point for several long distance record flights, including a solo one to Cape Town by the aviatrix Amy Johnson in 1932, and also ones by her later-to-be husband Jim Mollison. Jean Batten later flew from Lympne to Darwin, beating Johnson's long-distance record, in 1934. The aerodrome was also the venue for air races. The airport has now been closed and turned into an industrial estate.

Lympne has a village shop, hairdresser and public house (County Members) and straddles the B2067 road from Hythe, Kent to Aldington, Hamstreet and Tenterden. The nearest railway station is at Westenhanger. Lympne is also well-known for John Aspinal's Port Lympne Zoo, which occupies the ridge of hills upon which the village stands. Nearby Newingreen is reputedly the site of England's first motel on the A20.

Lympne in fiction

In H.G. Wells's 1901 novel First Men in the Moon, the English narrator Bedford — the sole survivor of the Moon expedition — attempting to land the antigravity sphere anywhere on Earth, has the good fortune to land it on the seashore at Lympne, reasonably close to his departure point. A local boy enters the antigravity sphere without Bedford's permission, and accidentally activates it ... sending himself and the sphere into space, never to return.


  1. ^ Notitia Dignitatum Occidentis, XXVIII, ed. A. W. Byvanck, Excerpta Romana. De bronnen der romeinsch geschiedenis van Nederland, t. I, La Haye, 1931, p571.
  2. ^ Glover, J., The Place Names of Kent, Batsford, 1976, "Stutfall Castle". Cf. Ekwall, E., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (4th edition), Oxford University Press, 1960, "stod" (p. 444).

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