infobox UK place
country = England

static_image_caption=Arms of Lydd Town Council
official_name= Lydd
latitude= 50.952330
longitude= 0.907290
population = 5,782 (2001) []
shire_district= Shepway
shire_county= Kent
region= South East England
constituency_westminster= Folkestone and Hythe
post_town= TONBRIDGE
postcode_district = TN29
postcode_area= TN

Lydd is a town in Kent, England, lying on the Romney Marsh. It is one of the larger towns on the Marsh, and the most southerly town in Kent. Actually located on Denge Marsh, Lydd was one of the first sandy islands to form as the bay evolved into what is now called the Romney Marsh. The name Hlyda, which derives from the Latin word for "shore", was found in a Saxon charter dating from the 8th century.

The parish of Lydd comprises the town of Lydd, Dungeness, Lydd-on-Sea and parts of Greatstone.

Notable buildings in Lydd include a guildhall and a mediaeval courthouse. Chamberlains and Churchwardens Accounts of the Fifteenth century survive alongside the town charters.


Lydd reached the height of its prosperity during the 13th century, when it was a "corporate member" of the Cinque Ports, a "limb" of Romney. [Cite web | url = | title = The Cinque Ports Limbs | accessdate = 2008-08-17]

As with much of the Marsh, the town was a base for smuggling in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Before World War I Lydd became an important artillery practice camp. Experiments with high explosives carried out on the shingle wastes around 1888 led to the invention of the explosive Lyddite. Lydd was at one time a garrison town, and the area is still an important training ground for the military.

Lydd is also the site of an airfield, the first constructed in Britain after World War II. Lydd Airport is now known as London Ashford Airport. [Cite web|url = | title = London Ashford Airport| accessdate = 2008-08-17]

Lydd during WWII

On the 3rd of September 1940, four German spies landed near the town on the coast between Hythe and Dungeness, but were soon caught. It would seem they were ill trained, with only one able to speak English. One of the German infiltrators was arrested in a local pub, the Rising Sun (owned by Clifford Cole), at 9.30 am, because he wanted to buy a drink, and locals would have known the pub did not open until 10.00 am. This suspicious behaviour at the time tipped off a local RAF officer, and the visitor failed to produce a required permit permitting him to travel freely along the coastline, and was handed over to the local Police. Another of the four was caught and it was discovered he had hidden radio equipment in a tree not far from the Lydd to Dungeness road. At least three of them were sentenced to death by hanging at Pentonville prison. At least two of the men proved to be Dutch in origin, and were recruited as spies as a result of their complicity in currency smuggling.

On October 21, a Dornier was forced to land at the Lydd aerodrome, short of fuel, having been confused in his bearings whilst attempting to return to France, by the use of recently invented equipment devised to interrupt the homing beams sent from Germany to guide such planes. The Dornier was the first example of this new type of Bomber to fall into the hands of British Intelligence.

A Wellington Bomber had the misfortune to crash-land on 26 June on returning from a 1500-plane attack on Bremen. The 19-year-old pilot managed to get the plane down safely near Lydd, and the crew survived the crash, but were not certain they were in England until rescuers came to their assistance.

On the 27 November, a railway train came under attack by two Focke-Wulf 190's. The train, which was just departing from Lydd station, was hit and its boiler exploded. The debris from the engine hit the plane, causing it to crash-land nearby, the pilot was found dead, and the fireman on the railway train was injured. The two planes, had been heading over the coast after a raid on Ashford.

Project Pluto

A pumping station was built at Lydd, linking Dungeness with a Petroleum pipeline from Walton-on-Thames. Although top secret at the time, this was part of the project Pluto: 'Pipe line under the ocean', a secret plan to supply petrol across the Channel, to fuel the invasion forces. Begun in 1942, the plan included a thousand miles of pipelines linking Grain on the Hoo peninsula, and other oil refineries, first to Dungeness and soon after to Sandown on the Isle of Wight, where pumping stations were set up to successfully carry over 6000 tons of fuel a day to Cherbourg. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch light railway was used to assist in the construction of this project, which at its peak in 1945 was able to deliver one million gallons of fuel a day to the allied armies in Europe.

The fuel was pumped through steel pipes made by Stewarts and Lloyds at their (then) recently completed, integrated Iron & Steel tube-making plant at Corby, Northamptonshire. Sections of straight steel tube were welded together before being wound like a thread onto a huge drum - called HMS Conundrum, which was towed across the Channel several times to lay the network of pipes required. The company made a film about the project just after the war, which can be viewed at a heritage centre near Corby.

Parish church

Extrapolating form the work of the late Mr. Leland Duncan, "The Monumental Inscriptions in Lydd Church and Churchyard", it is evident that a large number of sailors rest in the parish churchyard of the ancient Saxon church of Lydd, all victims of the stormy seas along this dangerous coast. Of these, six were drowned with the wreck of the "Northfleet" in January 1873, and Tom Edgar of the parish died with Captain Cook in 1779, having sailed around the world only to be killed in Kealakekua Bay by cannibals.

The church was long thought to be Saxon in origin, but recent studies have dated the oldest section to the latter half of the fifth century, making it Romano-British. The earliest existing tomb in the churchyard belongs to the Strugell family and dates from 1551. "It is one of the earliest extramural monuments in the country".

Within the church, which is the longest parish church in Kent, the ancient family of Godfrey of Lydd are represented by a brass in the C13th nave which has the date 1430 upon it; descendants of this family are to be found on World War II memorial. The church was adorned with paintings and writings provided by Churchwarden John Marketman in 1611. The church interior was restored in the eighteenth century, and again when the chancel was destroyed in WWII.

The church registers for christenings and marriages begin in 1542; for burials, 1539.

Notable people of Lydd

David Denne of the family of that name from Lydd was Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for the County of Kent, and formerly Captain of the East Kent and Cinque Ports Yeomanry, and Bailiff of the town Corporation 23 times. He died in December 1861 aged 63. [Cite web | url = | title = Players and Officials - David Denne | accessdate = 2008-08-17 | accessdate = 2008-08-17| publisher = ]


The parish encompasses four electricity industry sites: Dungeness A & B Nuclear Power Stations, a substation of the National Grid, and a former static inverter plant used by the HVDC Cross-Channel between 1961 and 1984.


The local football club, Lydd Town, were established in 1885. They currently play in Division One East of the Kent County League.


External links

* [ - A free email service for residents of Lydd and surrounding area]
* [ Historical notes]
* [ Drawings of Lydd church]
* [ Leland Duncan article]
* [ Extensive historical, geological and tourist information by Lydd resident]
* [ Acoustic Folk Rock artist Ewan J Golder Myspace]
* [ Rope Merchants working from Lydd]

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