“The World, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh.”

Edith Nesbit

Author of the famous childrens' book 'The Railway Children' Edith Nesbit, born in 1858, holidayed in Dymchurch and spent her last years in St Mary's Bay. Suffering from lung cancer, she died in 1924 at New Romney, Kent, and is buried in the churchyard of St Mary in the Marsh.

Edith Nesbit, born on 15th of August 1858 in Kennington, South London, was a prolific writer. Although thought of today as specifically the author of children's stories, her writing in her earlier years covered a wide selection.

Edith wrote romantic novels, short stories, ghost stories, plays, reviews, wonderful poems and of course, stories for children. Fame and recognition of her talent came to Edith in her early forties after the great success of her book 'The Treasure Seekers', by her mid-forties she was at the height of her fame

Edith's inspiration came from things she loved, whether it be from happy childhood memories and experiences, people, literature or the various homes and surrounding areas she lived happily in, not the least of which was Romney Marsh.

In 1893 Edith found and fell for nearby Dymchurch, not the seaside holiday resort, but a tranquil little fishing village as it was then. Enchanted by that first impression of an ancient, peaceful and unspoilt Dymchurch Edith occupied at least six different dwellings there over the years.

Edith spent a few miserable years following the death of her husband Hubert Bland, despite the fact he had been somewhat of a known womaniser. Edith herself had lived a rather intricate bohemian lifestyle.

In 1917 she married her second, a bearded, nautical man named Thomas Tucker, known as "The Skipper". The couple set up home close to St. Mary's-in-the-Marsh, but nearer to the shore, known today as St Mary's Bay. Back then and still by the locals it is known as Jesson, which was only a tiny hamlet.

Edith's final years brought her a new refreshing peace and contentment thanks to "The Skipper", who was devoted to her. Friends old and new visited often, many famous, other not so. Amongst her newest friends was the young Noel Coward who was living in the little cottage next to the Star inn here at St. Mary's-in-the-Marsh, opposite the church. Noel greatly admired Edith's stories from childhood, even when he died a copy of Edith's story "The Enchanted Castle" was at his bedside.

Edith died on 4th May 1924 at Jesson. "The Skipper" saw to it that Edith's last wishes were carried out accordingly and Edith was laid to rest in this peaceful, quiet country churchyard under the protective stretched out branches of the majestic elm tree. The large elm has now gone but Edith lives on through her writing which is still bringing pleasure to all ages, today her most remembered story being "The Railway Children" which has never lost it's appeal. Her grave is marked by a simple wooden structure, the original being carved lovingly by "The Skipper" himself, Edith wanted no memorial stone.
Text courtesy of Jill Cole, St Mary's in the Marsh

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Edith Nesbit c1890
Edith Nesbit c1890

Grave of Edith Nesbit at St Mary the Virgin church
Grave of Edith Nesbit at St Mary the Virgin church

Plaque on the grave of Edith Nesbit
Plaque on the grave of Edith Nesbit