New Romney and surrounding area
The History of New Romney
The historic Cinque Port town of New Romney is steeped in history. Known as the Capital of Romney Marsh, New Romney was granted Cinque Ports status by Edward I in 1278.
As the name Cinque Ports suggests the Confederation was originally the five ports of Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich. The Ports were required to supply 57 ships, each with a crew of 21 men and a boy, for 15 days every year. The ships were used in warfare and also to transport the King, members of his entourage and his armies to and from Normandy and other parts of the Continent. In return, the Ports were granted certain rights. Some claim the organisation was established by a long-lost Royal Charter, dating from before the Norman Conquest in 1066 others claim that it did not come into existence until the 13th Century.
The town became a flourishing port and provided the Sovereign with ships but fell into decline following a great storm in 1287 AD. Shingles from Dungeness piled up and blocked the outlet of the Rother at New Romney; the river changed its path to its current position to Rye and out into the sea. New Romney had its harbour devastated and shingles and mud flooded the town.
Many of the privileges of the Cinque Ports were lost when the establishment of a permanent fleet during the 16th century resulted in a decline for ship service. However, even today the Cinque Ports still have certain rights and privileges, the Cinque Ports Court of Admiralty has jurisdiction over an extensive area of the North Sea and the English Channel and places of honour are still reserved for the Cinque Ports Barons at Westminster Abbey, during coronation services.
Places of interest
The town has many places of historical interest including St Nicholas Church, the Old School, the New Inn and the Town Hall. Of course, the town is also famous for the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway, The Worlds Smallest Public Railway which has its main railway station just a few minutes away from the town centre.
St Nicholas Church
In 1287 a great storm caused the River Rother to change its course, the old port silted-up and was lost and evidence of old tide marks remain on the pillars along the nave of the Church of St. Nicholas. St Nicholas was the first church built in New Romney. Started in 1080 by Bishop Odo half brother to William the Conqueror, it was completed 50 years later in 1130. Today, St Nicholas is one of those churches supported by the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust.
In 1275 the Government introduced a tax on wool exports (which was doubled in 1298) and from the 1300s till 1724, smuggling of wool (Owling) was rife. Smuggling was especially rife on Romney Marsh where there was good grazing for sheep. In 1660 wool exports were forbidden, and two years later the death penalty was introduced for smuggling wool. In 1724 the French found they could obtain cheaper wool from Ireland and smuggling in the area continued till the 1840s when the Excise men mostly stopped it.