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History of Old Romney

Old Romney comes from the Old 'ea', meaning 'river' combined with a priest’s name – a priest named Romanus (anglicised to ‘Ruman’) owned land in this region in the 7th century – therefore, ‘Ruman’s river’. The prefix 'Old' distinguishes Old Romney from New Romney. Romney first appears in 791AD as Rumnea. The Domesday Book chronicles Romney as Romenel. It also gave its name to the Romney Marshes.


By the beginning of the 12th century, Romney’s flourishing port extended along the north bank of the River Rother to form the 'Longport'. However, as the harbour started to silt up, activities centred at the seaward end. During the 1100’s the harbour gradually moved further away from the old village until the distance became too great and the villages split into the old and new.


Old Romney parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Clement. The Saxons built the first chapel in the 8th century, which the Normans rebuilt around 1140, with additions and extensions over the next 300 years. Early in the 16th century, Richard Kerner cast and hung a bell in the tower, with Joseph Hatch adding another in 1634 and Mathew Bagley completing the three in 1709. In 1799, Edward Hasted described St Clement’s church as consisting of ‘three isles and three chancels, having a tower at the south-west corner, on which is a low pointed turret, covered with shingles, in which hang three bells. It appears by the thickness of the walls, as well as by the shape and size of the pillars, to be very antient. The two side isles are shorter than the middle, and the windows of a much more modern date than the rest of the building’. The Victorians made some alteration in the 19th century. The architect Anthony Sawine carried out restoration work in 1968.