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MARKET TOWNS OF KENT (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

New Romney in 1836

New Romney in the lathe of Shepway, is situated near the sea, in Romney Marsh, and is 70 miles from London. The name appears to be of Saxon origin. The etymology given by Lye is Rumenea, from Rume, meaning wide, spreading e.g. the wide spreading water or marsh. Perhaps it may be from Rumen-eye, ‘the island in the flat or marsh’, a spot sufficiently elevated from the surrounding marsh to be dry, being termed an island or ‘ey' by the Saxons. New Romney appears to have risen before the time of Edward the Confessor from the decay of Old Romney (more inland) the haven of which was deserted by the sea. The haven of New Romney being commodious and well frequented, the town became important, and was made one of the cinque ports, perhaps in the place of Old Romney, which, with Lydd, Denge Marsh (extending to Denge Ness), and Oswardestone, were added to it as subordinate members. But the Rother, which then entered the sea at this place and formed its harbour, having forsaken its channel (in the reign of Edward I), the harbour was choked up with beach and the town went to decay. In its flourishing time it was said to have been divided into twelve wards, and to have had five parish churches, as well as a priory and an hospital, of both which there are some remains.

At present it is an insignificant place, built on a soil of gravel and sand, slightly elevated above the surrounding country. It consists chiefly of one wide well-paved street, with a market house and a hall, or brotherhood-house, in which the mayor, jurats, and commons of the Cinque-Ports frequently hold their sittings. There is a weekly market and one yearly fair. The parish comprehends 2,320 acres, and had, in 1831, a population of 983. The church is a very ancient and handsome building. The lower part of part of the tower and part of the nave are of Norman architecture and of good composition, the upper part of the tower is of early English, and the remaining part chiefly of decorated English character, with large and fine windows. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Canterbury, exempt from the archdeacon's visitation, of the clear yearly value of £161, with a glebe-house not fit for residence, in the gift of All Souls' College, Oxford.

There were, in 1823 two infant or dame schools with 26 scholars, two day schools with 50 scholars, and one national day and Sunday school with 142 children. Up to the passing of the Reform Act, Romney returned two representatives to the House of Commons ; these, like the other members for the Cinque Ports, were styled 'barons’. The first return of members from the town was in the reign of Edward I. It was disenfranchised by the Reform Act ; and is one of the polling places for East Kent.

At the village of Dymchurch, about four miles north-east of New Romney, along the shore of Romney Marsh, is a sea-wall or embankment of earth more than three miles in length, by which the marsh is preserved from the inundation of the sea. It is called Dymchurch wall. Its perpendicular height varies from fifteen to twenty feet above the general level of the marshes : at the side next the sea it has a slope of a hundred yards : the width of the top varies from fifteen to thirty feet. There are sluices through it for draining the marshes. Old Romney, from the decay of which, New Romney arose, is now a mere village with a 113 persons.