Romney Marsh is renown for its rural historic churches. There are fourteen scattered across the Marsh, with St Thomas à Becket at Fairfield the most iconic. Marooned amid the landscape without a graveyard or fence to keep the sheep from grazing up to its door, it is all that's left of a mediaeval village.
The mediaeval churches of Romney Marsh were built by the lords of the manor on the Marsh to serve the communities. Although the population of the area was never high, the churches were often on a large scale to reflect the importance of the parish or the importance of the patron. Nearly all of the churches were in existence by 1100, likely as wooden buildings being built later in stone. Snargate and Snave churches were built in the early 13th century. In the 15th century, many of the churches had great towers added, at Ivychurch, Lydd, Newchurch and Snargate.
Most of the churches welcome visitors and are open during the day. If not open, then information for obtaining access are posted on the church door. Please treat the churches with respect.
The approximate location of the churches are shown by the symbol Church Icon. Just click on the church name for more information. The exact location is given at the end of each church's description.
Many of the mediaeval churches on the Marsh were involved with smuggling. The churches at Ivychurch, Snargate and the isolated Fairfield all made good places for the smugglers to hide their contraband goods before their distribution. Obliging Sextons would open up convenient vaults and remove their contents in order to store brandy, tea, tobacco, silks, laces, fine gloves and many other goods. In one church, the font was used as a hide.
It is said that tunnels connect the church at Ivychurch to the Bell pub next door, which were used by smugglers.
In Dymchurch churchyard there are tombstones to Preventive men and Riding Officers, the law of the day. At Snave, there are two tombstones that are believed to be of smugglers. At Snargate, there is a painted galleon opposite one of the doors which told the smugglers that the church was a safe hiding place.
Galleon painted on the wall of Snargate Church
Fact or Fiction Tours also offer illustrated lectures on the churches, which are well researched, entertaining and informative talks suitable for any club, association or corporate gathering. Each lecture lasts about 45 minutes which allows time for a discussion or questions afterwards.For further information, please visit the Fact or Fiction Tours website and/or contact Sue Duckworth email or 07546 595803.
Tours of the Historic Churches
If you would like a tour of the Historic Churches on Romney Marsh, there are three organisations that provide such tours. All the tours are conducted by tour guides with a wealth of knowledge about the churches you visit. Find out more at out Tours of the Historic Churches page.