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History of Herne

Herne comes from the Anglian word 'Hyrne' meaning an 'Angle, a corner'; therefore, an ‘angle or corner of land’.

Herne parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, originally built in the 11th century, as a Chapel-of-Ease to Reculver. Following new parochial arrangements in 1301, the parishioners rebuilt the whole church between 1310 and 1340. In 1552, there is a record of four bells in the tower. Samuel Knight cast a treble in 1724 and added another 17 years later. In 1800, Edward Hasted described St Martin’s as being a ‘large handsome building, consisting of three isles and three chancels, having a well-built square tower at the west end, in which are six bells. The whole roof of this church is covered with lead, and embattled. The pillars between the isles are light and beautifully proportioned. The stone font is an octagon, very antient; on each compartment is a shield of arms, first, the see of Canterbury, impaling Arundel; second, obliterated; third, France and England; fourth, three crescents, within a bordure; fifth, three wings, two and one; sixth, three pelicans; seventh, on a chevron, three —; eighth, barry, three escutcheons. At the west end of the middle isle is a new-erected gallery, very neat’. In 1890, Francis Butler heavily restored the church, including reroofing the nave and aisles. In 2011, Whitechapel augmented the bells to eight to complete the octave, which the Bishop of Dover dedicated on 4 December the same year…. more


The Reverend Nicolas Ridley, vicar of Herne, allowed the "Te Deum" to be sung in English for the first time. In 1555, as the Bishop of London, Queen Mary had him burnt at the stake, together with Bishop Latimer, for heresy. Prior to his death, he wrote several letters in which he fondly remembered his time at Herne.

Herne developed as the first landfall along the coast from Reculver. The medieval street pattern is still evident today. The village grew slowly until the 18th Century, when an influx of wealthy families from Canterbury migrated to Herne for a healthier life near the sea. Herne became prosperous at that time as the nearby bay was an important outlet for trade to and from Canterbury and its surrounding area. Herne village acted as the control for goods passing through the bay to the city.