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The History of Kent

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History of Capel-le-Ferne

Capel-le-Ferne comes from the Old Northern French word ‘capel’ meaning a ‘chapel’ with ‘le’ as ‘the’ and the Old English ‘fyrhðen’ for ‘wooded’; therefore ‘chapel at the ferny place’. 

The now redundant parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Normans built the church in the 12th century, as a Chapel-of-Ease to Alkham. They added the tower in the 13th century, with alterations in the following 200 years. In 1759, the Rev Bryan Faussett refers to the presence of one small bell, without inscription. In 1799, Edward Hasted described the Capel-le-Ferne church as consisting of ‘one isle and one chancel, having a low square tower at the west end’. In 1890, Capel Norris paid for the restoration of the tower and, the founder, John warner to cast and hang two new bells. On 8 July 1986, the Churches Conservation Trust took the church under its wing.

The Bishop of Dover dedicated the new parish church to Saint Radigund in 1966. For the sake of historical continuity, they incorporated a piece of stone from St Radigund’s abbey into the building of the new church.

In WW2, the MOD sited a gun battery, with 16inch guns, on the cliff tops at Capel-le-Ferne to shell France. The fortified site included underground barrack rooms, hospital and ammunition store. At the end of the war, the site converted into a Battle of Britain memorial.