Lyminge is unique!

Unless you can tell us otherwise, there isn’t another in the world! Well, there’s a ‘Lyminge Road’ and a ‘Lyminge Street’ in Australia – but surely one of Lyminge’s pioneering forefathers must have named them!

At the time the Pilgrim Fathers were making their mark on America, Lyminge was quietly going about its business – a small centre of commerce, agriculture and Christianity. There are buildings still standing which can be dated to this time.  But Lyminge’s history goes back further than this, more than a thousand years before the time of the Pilgrim Fathers, with continuous settlement from at least the late 5th century AD.

Modern-day Lyminge is a pleasant, unremarkable village nestling at the southern end of the beautiful and picturesque Elham Valley (designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), in Kent, England. People who live here are well served by a range of shops and businesses, a junior school, two doctors’ surgeries and a library.

There are bus services to Folkestone, Hythe and Canterbury. France is closer than the County town of Maidstone and indeed, from certain parts of the Parish of Lyminge, France can be easily seen across the English Channel. To a certain extent Lyminge is a ‘dormitory town’ as many inhabitants travel to nearby towns (including London) for work and education. Yes, this is a good place to live.

But what a back story!

InvictaIt has been said the Kingdom of Kent has never been beaten. Nowadays, the insignia for Kent is ‘Invicta’, (meaning ‘undefeated’) – a white horse rampant, showing defiance to all-comers.  There are many myths about the origin of this symbol but in actual fact it is only a few hundred years old.  What is more interesting is that the name ‘Kent’ perpetuates the name ‘Cantium’ by which the area was known to Julius Caesar over 2,000 years ago, and that means that as a name it is probably much older than that.  Kent is an historic place with a lot of continuity.

As a settlement in south east Kent, Lyminge can be regarded as a ‘frontier town’ – a frontier between Britain and the Continent of Europe. Recent archaeological exploration in Lyminge has confirmed that Anglo-Saxon Lyminge had connections with Germany and the rest of Europe.

Before we start the story of Lyminge’s remarkable position in early Anglo-Saxon history you need to know how to pronounce the name! It is Lym (as in ‘limb’) and ‘inge’ (as in ‘hinge’).  The name probably means ‘The Central Place of the People of the Limen”, Limen being the ancient name for the River East Rother, about six miles south west of Lyminge.  You can find out more about the possible origin of the name here .

St Ethelburga's well
St. Ethelburga’s Well in Mayfield Road

Lyminge today, as it always was, is the source of the Nailbourne, which still flows north east from St Ethelburga’s Well changing its name to the Little Stour (pronounced stow-er – ‘stow’ as in plough) before it joins the Great Stour on its way to the sea.   Lyminge had connections along the river valley towards Minster on the Isle of Thanet and Sandwich, and also north by the old Roman road (now known as Stone Street) to Canterbury.

To the south, we know that Anglo-Saxon Lyminge had a port at Sandtun, close to the Roman fort at Lympne.  This port provided access to the Continent and gave Lyminge access to luxury imports from an early date.

Recent excavations in Lyminge by Dr Gabor Thomas and his team from the University of Reading have revealed many fine quality and high status Anglo-Saxon artefacts. It is rare to find much Anglo-Saxon material on settlement sites and it is these finds which make Lyminge such a special place worthy of further investigation.