A stroll from Romney Marsh to a terrific pub: The Purple Lion, Kent | Holidays in Kent

Ii by no means was a pub meant to be haunted by a pleasant ghost, it is the Purple Lion. Regulars swear the spirit of former proprietor Doris Jemison lingers on this inn which has been a landmark in Snargate, a hamlet in Romney Marsh in Kent, because the 1540s.

Doris, who died in 2016, is buried within the churchyard of Saint Dunstan’s Church, simply up the aisle. “However she’s extra right here than there,” says her daughter Kate, who’s now calling time from throughout the marble-top bar. Doris’ work, photographs and different memorabilia take delight of place within the Purple Lion, whose museum-like inside has modified little in additional than a century.

After elevating a glass of scrumptious sweet apple flavored cider to Doris, I started my stroll.

Inside St Dunstan's Church.
Contained in the late Twelfth century Saint Dunstan’s Church

Inside Saint Dunstan, I’m drawn to the ghostly picture of a galleon, etched in pink traces on the plaster wall. It was found throughout renovations in 1964, and a few say the ship is an indication that the late Twelfth-century church was as soon as a haven for what was recognized within the swamp as ‘free commerce’ – smuggling.

For about 4 years from 1817, Richard Harris Barham served as rector at Saint Dunstan’s. Underneath his pseudonym, Thomas Ingoldsby, Barham wrote the humorous tales referred to as the Legends of Ingoldsby, one in all which begins: “The world, in keeping with the most effective geographers, is split into Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Romney Marsh.” This has led to Romney Marsh being known as the “Fifth Continent”, a title adopted by the Fifth Continent Panorama Partnership Scheme, a corporation devoted to preserving and celebrating the countryside, historical past and traditions of the marsh.

In collaboration with Romney Marsh Historic Church buildings Belief, the Fifth Continent has created a self-guided tour app for the 14 medieval church buildings within the marsh. I study that the ship’s spectral mural was “extra probably the backdrop for a guild altar for native shipbuilders because it was filled with winding creeks and salt marshes.”

Field at the Church of Saint Dunstan.
Large skies and open fields… a scene close to the Church of Saint Dunstan

The marsh continues to be crossed by dykes and drainage canals – known as sewers – forming a system of winding paths. A typical instance is the bridleway that twists alongside a ‘sewer’ between Snargate and Brenzett. I punch alongside the monitor by means of fluffy heads of waist-high cow parsley, scattering iridescent blue damselfish and orange tortoiseshell butterflies. A flock of Romney sheep graze within the adjoining fields, the spring lambs lurching behind their mums. A swan floats elegantly within the sewer.

Marshland may be flat, however orientation may be tough when rights-of-way are obscured by closely planted fields or creeping plant progress. A caring farmer blazed a golden band of glyphosate-treated wheat to mark the path to Saint Eanswithis in Brenzett. It’s the solely church in England devoted to the Anglo-Saxon princess who based a nunnery in Folkestone in 630. Her picture is on the heart of the church’s marsh mosaic, one other of the Fifth Continent’s native tasks.

A 1950s Vampire jet at the Brenzett Aeronautical Museum.
A Nineteen Fifties Vampire jet on the Brenzett Aeronautical Museum – a reminder of the previous airfield that stood right here

Within the Girl Chapel is the tomb of John Fagge and his son, seventeenth century gents of Rye whose alabaster effigies relaxation on prime. These peaceful-looking life-size sculptures impressed Edith Nesbit’s ghost story, Man-Measurement in Marble. The creator of The Railway Youngsters lived up the highway in Saint Mary’s Bay and is buried within the cemetery at Saint Mary within the Marsh.

Relics of WWII plane encompass the Brenzett Aviation Museum, reached by a footpath throughout the A2070. Used as a ahead touchdown floor for D-Day, the location was later a base for the Ladies’s Land Military, one in all whose recruits was a younger Doris Jemison.

The museum dates again to 1972, when the founder, whose “passion was digging up crashed planes by means of the swamp”, amassed a set too giant for his own residence. I study this nugget from a pocket “individuals’s information” to North Kent known as In every single place Means One thing to Somebody. Not too long ago revealed by Unusual Cargo, it’s an evocative assortment of tales and reminiscences from tons of of native individuals.

From the museum I navigate on tracks by means of different fields and the previous Dungeness department line to Saint Augustine’s in Brookland. An uncommon function right here is its free-standing wood steeple, however for native historian and church knowledgeable John Hendy, the late Twelfth-century lead font inside is its most original treasure. “Trying on the ornament of the baptismal font, you possibly can inform how they grew and wearing 1175 – it is a tremendous doc,” he says.

A lane (sort of) through a wheat field to Saint Eanswith's
A lane (form of) by means of a wheat discipline to Saint Eanswith’s

A fraction of a medieval mural from St. Augustine depicting the homicide of Archbishop Thomas Becket foreshadows the fourth church on my route. Surrounded by dykes and sheep pastures, Saint Thomas Becket Church presents a dramatic and solitary determine. Late afternoon daylight filters by means of moody clouds as I method Fairfield by means of speckled fields of buttercups and clovers to the little church.

St. Thomas Becket has been rebuilt a lot over the centuries, however the intimate Georgian inside with its white painted pews and three-tiered pulpit is exclusive amongst Romney Marsh church buildings. The door is locked, however a key hangs on the wall of the close by Becket Barn farmyard.

The path through the wheat fields leads to the rear of St Eanswith's Church in Brenzett
The trail by means of the wheat fields results in the rear of St Eanswith’s Church in Brenzett

One other winding nation highway brings me again from Fairfield to Snargate. Alongside the way in which, I move a discipline of lime-green wheat rippling within the breeze – a mesmerizing scene that jogs my memory of John Betjeman’s line that Romney Marsh is a spot the place “roads meander like streams by means of pastures and sky.” is all the time three-quarters of the panorama”.

Again on the Purple Lion, I am greater than prepared for an invigorating pint of Goacher’s DSB – ‘Doris’ Particular Bitter’ – named after the previous proprietor.

Google map of the route


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Start Snargate
Distance 8.3 miles
Time 3 hours
Complete ascent 0 meters
Issue Straightforward (however can get overgrown in spring and early summer season)

The pub

Kate, daughter of former owner Doris Jemison, behind the bar inside the Red Lion.
Kate, daughter of former proprietor Doris Jemison, behind the bar contained in the Purple Lion

Final renovated within the 1870s, the Purple Lion (no web site) has been dwelling to the Jemison household since 1911, when Kate’s grandfather Alfred turned the proprietor. Alfred’s previous bicycle is leaning in opposition to the wall of the pub and there’s a framed image of him subsequent to the bar.

The partitions are lined with WWII posters and pub certificates of the yr. Leisure consists of classic video games equivalent to trifle and toad within the gap, in addition to an previous piano donated by a patron. Genuine beers and native ciders are all gravity-pulled instantly from their barrels. There aren’t any sizzling dishes, however the employees will put together “hen and chips” – a bag of crisps with a pickled egg inside.

The Red Lion seems to be part of the Romney Marsh landscape.
The Purple Lion is a part of the Romney Marsh panorama

The place to go keep

The Woolpack Inn in Warehorne, three miles north of Snargate, has been welcoming visitors since 1570. Slim, winding stairs result in 5 superbly furnished en-suite bedrooms with ornate vintage beds, free-standing baths and complimentary little carafes of port. . The marine-themed Frederick Suite (named after the pleasant resident ghost) additionally has a wood-burning range. The beamed pub, which was as soon as linked by a smuggler’s tunnel to St Matthew’s Church reverse, presents dishes equivalent to Rye Bay pod curry, in addition to steaks and wood-fired pizzas.
Doubles from £100 B&B, woolpackwarehorne.co.uk

Slow travel in Kent by Simon Richmond (Bradt, £14.99) is out now

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