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The Inns of Dymchurch

There are three inns in Dymchurch village, the Ship Inn, City of London and the Ocean Inn, and the Neptune Inn located between Dymchurch and Hythe. Each one having a character of its own.

The Ship Inn

The Ship Inn has a long history, dating back to the 16th century when it is generally accepted that  it was named because of its long running connection to the clientele of fishermen and smugglers. 1530 is the date that The Ship Inn first enters the historical record of Dymchurch, this was a time when smuggling was rife along the south east coast of Kent. This was in part due to Romney Marsh being given the right to self governance by King Henry III. Control of the Marsh was given to the twenty three Lords of the Manors of Romney Marsh (also known as The Lords of the Levels).

The Ship Inn lies across the road from the church of St Peter and Paul and is the headquarters of author Russell thorndike's fictional Dr Syn. The Inn keeps up the smuggling theme there are various framed items of smuggling interest on the walls.

Ship Inn
The Ship Inn in the past

This Inn has many associations with the Lords of the Level and notorious smugglers. The low beams, attractive staircase and curious cupboards all suggest he atmosphere of exciting old times. The proximity of the inn to the little prison meant thrilling adventures in helping captured prisoners escape. An example of this was in 1781 when a gang of smugglers was apprehended exporting a boat load of live sheep to France.
They were tried in the New Hall and remanded in the adjoining jail. They escaped with the aid of friends at the Ship Inn. This was almost a foregone conclusion in this area, where everyone was on the side of the smuggler.

The smuggling history of The Ship inn through the centuries is literally engrained into the fabric of the building. There are hidden passageways and voids that have been found in recent years of renovation.
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City of London

Located in the middle of the high street is the City of London, which was built in the sixteenth century as a coaching inn. The lower bars on the high street are the stabling area of the original inn. It is the establishment mentioned in the Dr Syn stories as the Seawall Tavern. There is a story of how the Seawall Tavern became the City of London. Apparently during a great storm in the mid seventeen hundreds a ship called the City of London was wrecked off the coast of Dymchurch, with a great loss of life. So great was the storm and so gigantic the waves, that the ship was tossed up over the sea wall and crashed into the tavern, causing great damage to the building. The tavern was restored using timbers from the wreck and as a commemoration for all the people who were killed the tavern changed its name to the City of London.

City of London Pub
City of London pub today

The figurehead of the ship stood for many years in Wraights Buildersí Yard and now stands in the New Hall.

The signboard hanging outside the inn depicts the arms of the City of London, which incorporate Wat Tylerís dagger. Wat Tyler was a man of Kent who in 1381 during the reign of Richard II, led an armed revolt against a tax levied on the populus, a poll tax. They marched on Canterbury and took Rochester Castle, then continued to march on to London. In a meeting between the rebels and the Lord Mayor of London the goodly Mayor stabbed Wat Tyler to death.

Ocean Inn

The Ocean Inn is also mentioned in the Dr. Syn stories. It dates back to 1783 and at sometime in its history was known as the Victoria. It was only when renovations were being done after the Second World War that the original name was discovered, and the landlord promptly renamed it. Inside the Inn can be found some very good murals depicting smuggling scenes. These were originally done some years ago by a local artist and have recently been restored. The inn is one of the liveliest around in the summer and its close proximity to the beach has made it popular with generations of visitors to Dymchurch.

Ocean Inn
The Ocean Inn in the past

Neptune Inn

Large pub on the main coast road about half-way between Dymchurch village and Hythe

Neptune Inn
Neptune Inn today

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