The Ossuary at Hythe

Back to The Great British Holiday 9. First things first. I had an appointment at St Leonard's Church in Hythe, to check out its ossuary - one of only two in the UK. Funnily enough no one wanted to come with me, so I had a personal tour from one of the charming men who look after the church. It's an incredible place. Very striking, with over 2,000 skulls and 8,000 bones.*


We hung about in Hythe for a while, having a picnic by the canal. It was so pretty and there was a Waitrose, which is very exotic for us. Then we went to Folkestone as my AA illustrated guide to Britain said that it was "One of the most lovable of Britain's seaside resorts, and one of the prettiest". Was it heck as like. I don't know if we just went to the wrong bit or what, but Folkestone was a bit grim. Perhaps it was in better shape in 1983 when the book was printed.

The beach was dirty and featureless. Just miles and miles of shingle. We walked along, thinking there might be some action out of sight, just round that corner there but there wasn't. Only a sign explaining that there used to be a lot of things but they were all gone.

So we traipsed back to the cliff lift which was shut, then back again to get back up the hill to the car. At least we found an unexpected playpark which the kids enjoyed, and the Zig Zag Path where I learnt about Pulhamite, an artificial sandstone used to create grottoes and rock gardens around the turn of the century.


We'd wasted half the day trying to get to the bottom of Folkestone, so had a bit of a rush to make the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. When it opened in 1927 it was the world's smallest public railway. It now runs 13 miles from Hythe to Dungeness. It's incredibly dinky - just big enough to sit in and no more.

We rode to New Romney which is the main terminus and admired the extensive model railway before carrying on to Dungeness, which is so photogenic it deserves its own entry.

*Some of this will appear more fully Nothing To See Here. There was a lot to take in this day, so the notes are a bit short.

Hi Anne,

I went to Folkestone in the winter many years ago to see Jonathan Richman. It was grim and the cliff railway thing was closed then too (along with everything else). We stayed in The Chelsea Hotel and it was, erm, old. And practically everyone at the gig left after the support band so there were about 20 people in the place when Jojo came on. I've never been back to Folkestone!

I'm enjoying your holidays tales.


I have fond memories of Dungeness. What great place despite overpowering presence of the power station. Its very photogenic- all those little boats,huts and bungalows etc. The railway is the icing on the cake!

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