Category Archives: Local Information

Places to visit around Lydd

The Dungeness Lighthouses

BBC Radio Four have just broadcast an excellent new two-part Sherlock Holmes adventure, inspired by the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, written by Bert Coules, called ‘The Marlbourne Point Mystery’.

A disused lighthouse on a remote stretch of the Kent coast is the scene of a bizarre double death.

If you listen to the adventure you will soon realise that the description of the fictional Marlbourne Point fits closely to the real location of Dungeness, a popular destination for visitors to the cottage.

Most people who visit Dungeness are fascinated and captured by its unique atmosphere but find it hard to describe or explain – a place of mystery and magic. The perfect location for a Sherlock Holmes story and, indeed, for a Doctor Who story such as the Claws of Axos !

There have been five lighthouses at Dungeness. At first only a beacon was used to warn sailors, but this was replaced by a proper lighthouse in 1615. As the sea retreated, this had to be replaced in 1635 by a new lighthouse nearer to the water’s edge known as Lamplough’s Tower.

As more shingle was thrown up, a new and more up-to-date lighthouse was built near the sea in 1792 by Samuel Wyatt. This lighthouse was about 35 m (115 ft) high and of the same design as the third Eddystone lighthouse. From the mid-19th century, it was painted black with a white band to make it more visible in daylight; similar colours have featured on the subsequent lighthouses here. This lighthouse was demolished in 1904, but the lighthouse keepers’ accommodation, built in a circle around the base of the tower, still exists.

In 1901 building of the fourth lighthouse, the High Light Tower, started. It was first lit on 31 March 1904 and still stands today. It is no longer in use as a lighthouse but is open as a visitor attraction. It is a circular brick structure, 41 m (135 ft) high and 11 m (36 ft) in diameter at ground level. It has 169 steps, and gives visitors a good view of the shingle beach.

‘The Marlbourne Point Mystery’ would appear to be set in this period, when the High Light Tower was built to replace the 1792 lighthouse.

In the Doctor Who Christmas episode, ‘The Snowmen’, Vastra is revealed to be the inspiration for the character Sherlock Holmes. Holmes has been compared to the Doctor on many occasions, and his enemy the Master was directly inspired by Holmes’ enemy Professor Moriarty. Sherlock Holmes has featured in many ways in Doctor Who Stories – read all about them here:


Why don’t you go and get Mrs Grose to make you some afternoon tea.

In the story Ghostlight The Doctor takes Ace to an old ‘haunted’ house called Gabriel Chase in the year 1883. 100 years before events that took place within that very house in her personal past.

The writer, Marc Platt, includes several allusions and references to late 19th and early 20th century literature. Among the most notable, Mrs Grose is named after the housekeeper in Henry James‘ short story The Turn of the Screw (1898).

Lamb House is an 18th-century house in Rye and was the home of Henry James from 1898 to 1916, and later of E.F. Benson and Rumer Godden.

Lamb House was built in 1723 by James Lamb and the same year he was chosen mayor for the first time. In 1726 George I, returning from Hanover to open parliament, was driven ashore by a terrible storm and landed at Camber Sands. James Lamb escorted the king to his house where the family entertained him for three days.  On the first night Mrs Lamb, who had to give up the best bedroom to the king, gave birth to a baby boy. The king acted as godfather at the christening of the Lamb’s son who was given the name George.

Henry James loved his home in Rye which was visited by many other famous writers and artists. He became a British subject in 1915 and was awarded the OM in 1916. James suffered a stroke on December 2, 1915. He died in Rye on February 28, 1916. 

Lamb House is administered and maintained on the Trust’s behalf by its current tenant and is open on Saturdays and Thursdays from March to October – 2.00-6.00.
See Lamb House website for details

Some of James’s personal possessions can be seen and there is a walled garden.

Lamb House is the subject of Joan Aiken‘s novel The Haunting of Lamb House which is composed of three novellas about residents of the house at different times, including James himself.


Have you met the French? My God they know how to party!

One of the advantages the cottage has, being in Lydd, is that you are able to pop over to France in 20 minutes !

From April to mid-October there are regular flights from Lydd Airport to Le Touquet at weekends and on some Fridays.

Prices are £55.90 for infants, £138.54 for children and £149.94 for adults. So, if you fancy a day trip to France during your stay at the cottage it could not be easier.

You used to be able to take your car by air to the continent from Lydd airport. Silver City Airways was a private airline formed in 1946.  In 1953, Silver City took delivery of its first Bristol Superfreighter. The following year, the company moved to a new permanent home at Lydd FerryfieldBritain’s first newly-constructed post-war airport.

By 1960, Silver City’s 40,000 annual cross-Channel flights transported 220,000 passengers and 90,000 vehicles while network-wide freight haulage reached 135,000 tons a year.

My parents went on their honeymoon to Italy in an old MG Magnette in the 1950’s and flew from Lydd Airport.


Poo, Jamie you don’t half stink of fish!

25th February – 4th March is Rye Bay Scallop Week.

Rye’s mouthwatering locally caught scallops are said to be some of the best in the country.

It is a mainly restaurant-based event when the local delicacy is at its plumpest and most succulent. The festival features cookery schools, cooking and scallop shucking demos. The week culminates on the final day with the hotly contested ‘What a Load of Scallops’ race with competitors racing barrows of scallops, through the cobbled streets of Rye, to win the coveted wooden scallop plaque.

King Charles 1st got his scallops from Rye, so if you like your scallops you shopuld enjoy the event !

Personally, I like scallops with bacon and here is a recipe.

Looking forward to viewing the recently discovered ‘lost’ episode of ‘The Underwater Menace’ – not the best of stories, but any performance by Patrick Troughton is a gem.


As a boy, I always wanted to drive one.

We had an enjoyable trip, during our holiday, on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

It was the World’s smallest public Railway until 1982, when the 10 14 in (260 mm) gauge Wells and Walsingham Light Railway opened. It runs from the Cinque Port of Hythe via Dymchurch, St.Mary’s Bay, New Romney and Romney Sands to Dungeness. It is a s a 15 inch (15 in/381 mm) gauge light railway.

Constructed during the 1920s and opened on 16 July 1927, the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was the dream of millionaire racing drivers Captain J.E.P. Howey and Count Louis Zborowski. Zborowski was killed in a motor racing accident at Monza before the Romney Marsh site was chosen, and Howey continued the project alone.

The railway was damaged during World War Two when the line was taken over by the military. A miniature armoured train was used on the line.

Laurel & Hardy re-opened this line after the War in 1947. They travelled the line pulled by a loco called DR SYN. This loco is still working today and is pictured above.

At New Romney station there is a Toy Museum, a large model railway and cafe. 

The Model Railway features a Rat train !

 In the Doctor Who story ‘Black Orchid’ the Tardis materialises on a train station and a puzzled Adris asks the Doctor what a railway station is ? The Doctor replies “Well, a place where one embarks and disembarks from compartments on wheels drawn along these tracks by a steam engine – rarely on time”
 In the Elenth Doctor audio story “The Runaway Train” the Doctor and Amy land in America in 1864 and must get a posse together to help them retrieve an alien artefact. The duo are chased across the Wild West by the alien race, their only hope of escape is catching the 3:25 train to Arizona.


She’s got 10,000 children swimming around the canals…

The Royal Military Canal runs for 28 miles between Seabrook near Folkstone and Cliff End near Hastings, following the old cliff line bordering Romney Marsh with its wooded hills and quiet villages.

As England faced the threat of invasion from Napoleon, who had massed an army of some 130,000 troops and 2,000 boats on the French coast near Boulogne, thoughts turned to how to defend the Marsh which was expected to be the landing point for any French invasion.

By the time the Royal Military canal was fully ready for use, (The canal was completed in April 1809 at a total cost of £234,000 ) the threat of invasion had long since past. Napoleon’s plans for invasion suffered a major setback following his navy’s defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He withdrew his troops from the French coast and focused his intentions on central Europe.

The canal became an embarrassment to the Government – it was considered to be a white elephant of the largest proportions and a huge waste of public money. 

Despite the fact that the canal never saw military action, it was used to try to control smuggling from Romney Marsh. Guard houses were constructed at each bridge along its length. This met with limited success because of corrupt guards.

The Royal Military Canal is an excellent place for quiet enjoyment, whether walking, fishing or simply watching the world go by. 

Walking along the quiet canal banks today it is easy to forget that this was once the scene of intense activity.

The Canal is a short drive from the cottage and there is a little booklet of canal walks with the Tourist Infomation pack in the Kitchen.
In ‘The Vampires of Venice’ Doctor Who had his own canal adventure:

Dessicated corpses, terror in the canal and a visit to the sinister House of Calvierri – the Doctor takes Amy and Rory for a romantic mini-break, as the TARDIS touches down once again.

But 16th-century Venice is not as it should be. The city has been sealed to protect it from the Plague, although Rosanna Calvierri may have other plans…


Fortunately, we’re in England.


Another trip out we had during our holidays was a visit to Bodiam Castle just over the border into East Sussex.

Bodiam Castle was begun in 1386 by Sir Edward Dalyngrugge who was granted a licence to crenellate his mansion at Bodiam. Instead of just improving the current building, Dalyngrugge took the opportunity to build a completely new castle from scratch on a new site near by. Dalyngrugge won his spurs fighting in France with Sir Robert Knowles and amassed a large amount of wealth along the way. When Sussex came under threat from attack by the French, king Richard II was willing to allow the local lords in the area to fortify their homes and help defend the country. Bodiam was built in the valley of the Rother, a river which at the time could have been used by large ships to travel inland. 

It was built at an evolutionary stage when the nobility were looking for more comfortable, agreeable places to live that offered them security, but also represented an outward show of their wealth and rank.

Even in its decay and ruin it is one of the most beautiful castles in England and the very epitome of a medieval castle – it looks like the work of a giant bucket and spade.

The impressive towers and broad moat of Bodiam Castle are like a scene from a fantasy as you gaze at them for the very first time – so it is not surprising that the castle was chosen as the location for the Doctor Who story ‘The Kings Demon’.

The Doctor and his companions arrive at a medieval joust and are surprised to be greeted warmly by King John, who calls them his demons. But when a young nobleman returns, having just left King John in London, the Doctor realizes that this king must be an impostor! Then the Master makes an appearance and the Doctor’s worst fears are confirmed… 


What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?

Time travel – if you can keep it straight in your head, when all about you

are losing theirs and blaming it on you; you’ll be a timelord, my son


The cottage has been fully booked most of this Summer, but luckily we did book ourselves a week !

Over the next week, I will post details of some of the places we visited. 

A really good day out can be had at Bateman’s, the home of the writer Rudyard Kipling.

He wrote in Something of Myself about his first impressions of the house: was the heartbreaking Locomobile that brought us to the house called ‘Bateman’s’, we had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself] said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…

Rudyard Kipling settled in the house in 1902, and lived there for over 30 years, until his death, rejoicing in its seclusion under the Sussex Downs, and in the evidence all around of thousands of years of English History.

The first decade of his new life there saw the creation of Traffics and Discoveries (1904), Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) – the hill can be seen from the lawn at Bateman’s, to the south-west – and Rewards and Fairies (1910).

The Jacobean house is built of sandstone quarried from a local site and the tiles are all baked from Wealden clay. The delightful house is set in 33 acres of pretty grounds bordered by the River Dudwell with its watermill erected in 1750, which has been restored and is still used for grinding flour.

The interior of the house reflects Kipling’s strong links with the Indian subcontinent including many oriental rugs and Indian works of art and artifacts. Exhibitions contain manuscripts, letters and mementos of Kipling’s life and work. The heart of the house is the book lined study at the top of the stairs where the writer worked seated at the 17th century walnut refectory table.

Kipling was a pioneer motorist and owned several Lancasters and Rolls Royces, including his Phantom I built in 1928 which is on display. The cartoonist who drew this cartoon for Punch actually based it on one of Kipling’s cars.

The house is now held by the National Trust as a memorial to Rudyard Kipling, and can be visited between April and October.  

As always, a link can be found to the world of Doctor Who:


Evolution is an original novel written by John Peel. Sarah Jane really wants to meet the journalist Rudyard Kipling, so the Doctor sets the co-ordinates in the TARDIS. Not materialising in quite the right place, the are pursued across the Devon Moorland by a massive feral hound.

Meanwhile something strange is going on, children going missing, strange lights in the waters of the bay, fishermen being found mutilated and graves robbed of their corpses.

A young Rudyard Kipling sets up search parties for the missing children while a ships doctor by the name of Arthur Conan Doyle is determined to investigate.

The Doctor and Doyle join forces to uncover a macabre scheme to interfere with human evolution – and both Sarah Jane and Kipling face a terrifying transmogrification.

If you enjoyed the Philip Hinchcliffe / Robert Holmes era of the series, you’ll enjoy this book. It is out of print now but you should be able to find a second-hand copy on Amazon.


Yo ho ho!…or does nobody actually say that? – Lydd Club Day

Last Saturday was Lydd Club Day. The Club Day started as a livestock market supported by local shopkeepers who paid into a ‘club’ to attract people to come into Lydd to spend their money. It was revived in 1948 and is an annual event held every year on the third Saturday in June.

Today it is a good excuse for fun with stalls, a funfair, floats, fancy dress competitions, a procession through town, and the crowning of the years new Club Day Queen.

We decided to have an Open Day at the cottage to coincide with Club Day – an opportunity for local children to get a look at the Tardis and Dalek.

We had visitors of all ages and they seemed to enjoy the sight of a Tardis in Lydd !

My favourite float was the pirate one – they certainly seemed to be into the role playing!

The pirate theme seems to relate to a one-off drunken idea that has turned itself into another annual event in Lydd. One that seems to have cemented itself into both the history and heart of the town.

Known simply as ‘Pirate Friday’, local residents gather on the 3rd Friday in June dressed in outrageous pirate gears; this is soon followed by copious amounts of rum being consumed and the shouting ‘Yaaaaarrrrrh’. The source and evolution of the event is unfortunately unknown, with many people within Lydd and the surrounding area staking claim. However, despite the ongoing battle to decide who actually created Pirate Friday, the fact remains that it has now undoubtedly become an important day in Lydd’s history…..Yaaaaaaarh


Broadsword calling Danny Boy

We went down to the cottage this weekend and went along to the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkstone.
This is a monument to aircrew who flew in the Battle of Britain. It was initiated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and opened by the Queen Mother on July 9 1993. It is formed of a large propellor shape, (seen from the air it forms quite a landmark) with the figure of a seated pilot carved by Harry Gray sitting at the centre . Also on the site are replicas of a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall, on which appears the names of the almost 3000 fighter aircrew who flew in the Battle.
I spotted a ‘Banister’ in the list, but as my surname has 2 ‘n’s I don’t think it was a relation!
Of course, Doctor Who did it’s own little tribute to the Battle of Britain pilots in, the Mark Gatiss penned, ‘Victory of the Daleks’.