Local Attractions

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

Deblyns Tea Shop New RomneyThe famous miniature railway at New Romney (the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch) was constructed in the 1920s by engineer Henry Greenly and racing driver Captain J.E .P. Howey. It runs 13½ miles between the old Cinque Port of Hythe to the terminus at Dungeness. Its most remarkable feature is the small size of the rolling stock, being only third size of traditional steam and diesel trains. However, it is large enough to operate as a genuine passenger service for visitors and locals alike.  


As the sea receded from the town, it formed a huge shingle bank, where a lighthouse was constructed as early as 1615. The quietness and remoteness of the site led to the building of three still-surviving defence systems or ‘acoustic mirrors’ [also known as ‘listening ears’] there in 1927-30 that ‘listened’ for the sound of aircraft from across the sea.

In 1965-83 two huge nuclear power stations were built on the site. However, the site is best known for its wildlife, being an area especially attractive to insects, such as moths, bees, beetles, spiders, and rare bird species. These include such species as green sandpipers, little stints, greenshanks, goldfinches and linnets. It is officially listed as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), a Special Protection Area (SPA), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay.  

                 Deblyns tea shop New Romney                   Deblyns tea shop New Romney

Literary Links and Film Fame

Various writers have worked in the locality, most famously the novelists Henry James and E.F. Benson, who lived at Lamb House, Rye [now National Trust]. Littlestone-on-Sea is the location of Mr Bedford’s return from space in H.G. Wells’ book The First Men in the Moon (1901), where the hero leaves the sphere or space ship on the beach to enter a hotel, while a local boy enters the sphere, takes off, and is never seen again! The village of Appledore, the medieval canal link to New Romney, is celebrated in a children’s poem by A.A. Milne [author of ‘Winnie the Pooh’], as the home of Sir Thomas Tom, "The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak".  

The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh

deblyns tea garden and curios new romneyIn 1915 the novelist Russell Thorndike (brother of the actress Sybil) published Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh, the first of a series of novels about a vicar who dressed as a scarecrow in order to take part as a smuggler. This became the basis of two films, Doctor Syn (1937) featuring eminent actor George Arliss, and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1963) a Disney production with Patrick McGoohan. The church at Old Romney (St Clement) was painted pink inside for this production, and the parishioners liked it so much that it has stayed that way to this day. The film director Derek Jarman had a ‘natural’ garden at Prospect cottage near Dungeness. He is buried in Old Romney churchyard.