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History of Walmer

Walmer comes from the Anglian word ‘walh’ meaning a ‘Briton, Welshman’ with the Old English ‘mere’ as a ‘pond, pool, lake’; therefore a ‘pool of the Britons’.


The Walmer church dedicated to the Blessed Mary of Walmer is a Grade: II listed building. In 1120, the Norman d’Auberville family built it as a chapel for the moated manor house, Walmer Court. In 1635, Joseph Hatch cast and hung a tenor bell. The congregation extended the church in the 17th century and again around 1826, demolishing the latter in 1898. The Duke of Wellington regularly attended services in the church, whilst staying at Walmer Castle as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and had a tendency to nod off if the sermon proved too long.

By the mid 1800's, the church became unsuitable and inconvenient for the growing community of Walmer. Funds came from several local families, to engage the architect Arthur Blomfield to design and build a new church.


They laid the foundation stone in 1887 with the dedication to Saint Mary the Virgin, by Archbishop Benson on 5th April 1888. John Warner cast a ring of eight bells in 1892 and hung them in the new tower the following year. Blomfield added the Granville Tower in 1893, in honour of Earl Granville, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.


King Henry VIII built Walmer Castle in the 16th century as a defensive measure against a French invasion. However, by the time of completion the threat had subsided.


Fleeing from persecution in Poland and Germany, the Convent of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary moved to Walmer in 1875. It occupied Roselands, an estate of seven acres with a large 18th Century Georgian house. They completed the main convent building in 1881, followed by the Sisters' Choir and the Gothic Chapel of the Sacred Heart, in 1890. The convent, an enclosed order, left Walmer in 1971 due to an increase in traffic noise.


Walmer railway station opened on the joint South Eastern and London Chatham and Dover Railway’s, Dover and Deal line, on 15 June 1881…. more