Another full month for our club started with a visit by members, wives and partners to New Hall at Dymchurch. The term ‘New’ in the title is a relative one as it has its origin from when the place was rebuilt in 1575 as a replacement for an earlier half timbered building which had been destroyed by fire. The hall is now a museum but was originally used as a magistrates court and a meeting place for the Lords of the Level, jurats, and bailiffs from where they discussed and ruled the Marshland which was their domain. Their primary concern was the effective maintenance of the walls and drainage throughout the Marsh and this was explained to us by the current Bailiff (one of our members), Spencer Buck (seated in the photo opposite) along with his Sergeant, the splendidly dressed Mick Pope.
Spencer explained that the 23 Lords of the Levels, 24 Jurats (workers) and the Bailiff were created under a charter granted by Henry II in 1252 to look after the maintenance of the sea wall and to manage the water levels on the marsh and they were so good at it that their methods were used as an example for many similar projects in other parts of the country for many years afterwards. The Lords and Bailiff are now trustees of the New Hall charity and manage the income received from rentals and charitable donations 100% of which is used for the upkeep of the building.
Mick now works for the Environment Agency and looks after the dams, tidal doors and other devices used to control water levels today. When he started, he had to help with grouting the sea wall (before the new wall was built), dredging the water courses and controlling the reeds using a hand scythe, really hard manual work, but his talents were recognised and he was eventually offered the chance to learn about the water management systems which essentially means reducing levels in the winter and increasing them in the summer so that it can be used for irrigation, wet fences and biodiversity management while keeping the feet of farmers, sheep and everybody else dry.
Later in the month we welcomed Stan Smith, the Biodiversity Officer of Kent Wildlife Trust, a Heritage Lottery funded agency which works in partnership with local authorities, church diocese, drainage boards and the Environment Agency and examines the interaction between the marsh, its heritage, wildlife, and landscape with the people living in the area.
The Trust welcomes volunteers, who might be asked to visit our ancient churches, churchyards, old barns, rare Lookers huts and the like to record wildlife and habitats (there are a variety of dragonflies that are unique to our marshy area along with other rare species), build planters to contain plants such as fennel, wild strawberries, and other rare plants or undertake projects to restore, re-discover, reclaim or otherwise improve historic sites where water was once found (e.g. a capped off well or a water storage area, such as that identified from a 1787 map at Solly’s Farm at Cheyne Court) and reconnect or re-use it. It was a very stimulating, talk which ended with Stan urging us to rediscover the beauty and history of our local area and that John Betjeman had described as ‘Romney Marsh, where the roads wind like streams through pasture and the sky is always three quarters of the landscape’. For more information see https://fifthcontinent.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally we have been very pleased to welcome three new members to our club this month, Jim & Julie Lawrence and Lindy Hutchinson, we wish them all a very happy time in our Rotary family and expect theirs to be the first names on the Santa Sleigh rota later in the year.
Finally, finally, we have been asked to spread the word for a couple of charity events and we are pleased to do so. The first is on behalf of two PE teachers from the March Academy, Jon Gardner and Harry Welsby who are organising a mass raffle and running the London Marathon in a few weeks time and secondly on behalf of The Seaside Singers who are raising funds for some new equipment by holding a special ABBA evening, see details above and opposite.
What’s coming up?
Forthcoming member’s activities and public events include ..
⦁ Regular club meeting and dinner every Thursday at Littlestone Warren Golf Club; 7.00 pm
⦁ Saturday 6th April; Quiz Night at Littlestone Warren Golf Club – see details opposite
⦁ Thursday 16th May; Club 50th Anniversary Celebration at Lympne Castle
⦁ Sunday 7th July; Members and friends outing to Canterbury for the Ladies One Day Cricket International, England vs Australia
So what do I do if I want to join?
New members are always welcome, please email email@example.com or check out our website – www.romneymarshrotary.co.uk where you can also find out a little more about who we are and what we do
Quiz answers 1; On large outside advertising boards 2; Russia Reg’d Charity No 281361