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History of Lympne

Lympne (pronounced Lim) comes from the Celtic word ‘lemo’ meaning an ‘Elm-wood place’ or ‘marshy place’. The Domesday Book chronicles Lympne as Limes.

Lympne parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to St Stephen and built by the Normans in the late 11th century. From simple beginnings, it grew over the next 300 years with north and south aisles, tower, north chapel and porch. In 1552, there is a record of four bells in the tower. In 1580, an unknown founder recast the four bells together with two acquired from elsewhere, into a ring of five. In 1799, Edward Hasted described St Stephen’s church as a ‘fine antient building, of two isles and a high chancel, having a square tower, which stands in the middle of the south isle, and separates it from the chancel. There are five bells in it’. The architect James Piers St. Aubyn restored the church in 1880. Further extensive restoration took place in the 20th century. In 1951, Mears and Stainbank added a treble to make six bells.

Lympne castle is a Grade: I listed building, built as a fortified house in the 13th century. Additions in the 14th century included stair turret and service room to the south, a hall to the west of the tower, with a north-east porch in the following century. Over time, defence became less of a priority and the status of the house drifted - for a while used as a farm. Following the death of Archdeacon Croft in 1860, the castle passed into private hands. In 1906, the architect Sir Robert Lorimer carried out restoration work with many old features preserved and incorporated into the new hall-house castle.

Lympne airfield operated from 1916 to 1984, during that time it saw military service in both World Wars, commercial operations with Skyways and finished its days as a general aviation airfield. Following its closure in 1984, the Lympne airfield site converted into an industrial estate.