Page Updated:- Saturday, 16 December, 2023.


Earliest 1530

Ship Inn

Open 2023+

118 High Street


01303 874425


Above postcard date unknown, with kind permission from Eric Hartland.

Ship 1908

Above photo, 1908, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.

Ship 1913

Above photo, 28 June 1913, kindly sent by Rory Kehoe.


Above postcard date unknown, with kind permission from Eric Hartland.

Ship Inn

Above photo, date unknown.

Ship Inn 2015

Above photo 2015.

Ship Inn 2015

Above photo 2015.

Ship Inn sign 1986Ship Inn sign 2015

Sign left, April 1986, sign right 2015.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis

Ship Hotel card 1955Ship Hotel card 1955

Above card issued March 1955. Sign series 4 number 37.

Inside the Ship Inn 1948

From the book 1948 Whitbread & Co Ltd 'Inns of Kent' showing low beamed ceilings, and walls with secret stairs and cupboards.

Ship Inn door 1948

From the book 1948 Whitbread & Co Ltd 'Inns of Kent' showing a fine carved and gilded sign of unusual character and in perfect keeping with the Inn.


Taken from


The "Ship Inn" has a long history, dating back to the 16th century when it is generally accepted that it was named because of its long running connection to the clientele of fishermen and smugglers. 1530 is the date that the "Ship Inn" first enters the historical record of Dymchurch, this was a time when smuggling was rife along the south east coast of Kent. This was in part due to Romney Marsh being given the right to self governance by King Henry III. Control of the Marsh was given to the twenty three Lords of the Manors of Romney Marsh (also known as The Lords of the Levels).

The "Ship Inn" lies across the road from the church of St Peter and Paul and is the headquarters of author Russell Thorndike's fictional Dr Syn. The Inn keeps up the smuggling theme there are various framed items of smuggling interest on the walls.

This Inn has many associations with the Lords of the Level and notorious smugglers. The low beams, attractive staircase and curious cupboards all suggest the atmosphere of exciting old times. The proximity of the inn to the little prison meant thrilling adventures in helping captured prisoners escape. An example of this was in 1781 when a gang of smugglers was apprehended exporting a boat load of live sheep to France.

They were tried in the New Hall and remanded in the adjoining jail. They escaped with the aid of friends at the "Ship Inn." This was almost a foregone conclusion in this area, where everyone was on the side of the smuggler.

The smuggling history of the "Ship Inn" through the centuries is literally engrained into the fabric of the building. There are hidden passageways and voids that have been found in recent years of renovation.

"There can be no more suitable place [for smuggling] than Dymchurch and its Ship Inn for example ... [and] its smuggling proclivities are not in doubt. Mr Russell Thorndike in his Dr Syn novels has laid a great many of his scenes at The Ship ... and, doubtless, many of the stories are based upon smuggling tales collected locally. The Ship is just such an inn as one would expect to see within a few yards of the sea and sheltering under the sea wall - blunt, low and long with its face to the sea and its back to the road. Over the front door is a fine carved and gilded sign of an unusual character and in perfect keeping with the inn. The inside matches the outside - low-beamed ceilings and walls with secret cupboards and stairways, now no longer secret but all adding to an indisputable atmosphere of lamp oil, dark lanterns, masks and three-cornered hats. One is glad to hear that rooms are still available and food as well as drink (strictly legal drink) obtainable without the slightest fear of having one's throat cut."


From the Kentish Gazette, Friday 24 April, 1784.


At the "Ship," Dymchurch, respectfully informs his Friends, that on account of Tenterden Fair, he is under the necessity of postponing the Stock Market till Tuesday, May the 4th.


Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Friday 3 January 1794.

Yesterday se'nnight (i.e. one week ago yesterday) died, after a long and painful illness, Mr. George Horn, Master of the "Ship Inn," at Dymchurch.


Kentish Chronicles, 3 January, 1794.

Yesterday, se'nnight died, after a long and painful illness, Mr. George Horn, Master of the "Ship Inn," at Dymchurch.


Kentish Gazette, Friday 31 October 1794.

Ship Inn, Dymchurch.

William Wraight begs leave to acquaint his friends and the public in general, that he has taken the above inn, and a laid in a good assortment of wines and other liquors; and, by his constant assiduity and attention, humbly hopes to merit their favours, which will be gratefully acknowledged.

N. B. The Stock Market will be on Monday next, 3rd of November. Mr. Charles Rolfe will attend as salesman, and continue as usual.

Dymchurch, October 31, 1794.


From the Kentish Gazette, Tuesday 7 February, 1837.


At the "Ship Inn," Dymchurch, on Monday, the 20th February, 1837, at Twelve o'clock precisely, Duty paid, about 6,000 Deals, Deal Ends, and Battens.

76 Pieces Pine Timber, 90 Pieces Birch Timber, And a quantity of Lath Wood.

Saved from the Bark "DIXON," of Hull, Samuel Slater, late Master, wrecked near Dymchurch, on a voyage from St. John's, new brunswick, to Hull.

The goods lay in separate lots between Dymchurch and Romney, and may be seen on application to Mr. George Packman, St. Mary's near Romney; or to Messrs. Humphrey and Tunbridge, auctioneers, new Romney, who will deliver catalogues four days prior to the sale.

For further particulars apply to Latham and Co. Agents to Lloyd's Dover.


Kentish Gazette, 8 June 1847.


We regret to announce the death of Mr. Holmes, for many years landlord of the "Ship Inn," Dymchurch. It appears that as he was returning from Ashford fair, the horse shied at something in the road, and stopping suddenly, he was jerked out of his cart, the wheels of which passed over him and fractured his spine. He lingered until Friday, when death put an end to his sufferings. The deceased was in his 65th year.


From the Kentish Gazette, 28 November 1848.


An inquest was held on Thursday, the 23d instant, at the "Ship Inn," Dymchurch, before James Elliott, Esq., on the body of Thomas Wraight, a carpenter. Deceased had been seriously burnt by squibs on the 5th of November. The jury not being able to come to a satisfactory conclusion as to the precise manner in which the injury had proved fatal, the further hearing was adjourned for the result of a post mortem examination. The additional particulars shall be given in our next.


South Eastern Gazette, 14 August, 1860.


MRS. HUNTLY, in relinquishing the above business, offers her most respectful acknowledgments to those friends who have, during her lengthened residence, continued their patronage; she has also the satisfaction to assure them that her successor is in every way disposed to offer such comfort and accommodation as may induce a continuance of their favours. Carriages, Coach-houses, Stabling, &c., are known to the public, and there will be no diminution of attention and comfort to those who have hitherto expressed their satisfaction in the arrangement of the hotel.


IN introducing to his Friends and the Public Mr. J. STOKES as his Successor in the Out-door Department of the above Establishment, begs to return his grateful thanks for the favours conferred upon him, and to solicit a continuance of the same on behalf of Mr. Stokes.

JOHN STOKES, (Late of the "Ship Inn," Dymchurch),

HAVING succeeded to the above business, most respectfully solicits a continuance of that patronage so liberally awarded to his predecessors. Every attention and comfort will be offered, and every exertion used to meet their approbation. Wines and Spirits of the choicest quality. Flys in constant readiness, and Omnibuses to and from the Trains.


Dover, 3rd August, 1860.




HORN George 1784-Dec/1793 dec'd Kentish Gazette

WRAIGHT William 1794+ Kentish Gazette

MINTER John Next pub licensee had to 1812

HOLMES William 1832-6/June/47 dec'd age 65 (age 55 in 1841Census) Pigot's Directory 1832-34

STOKES John to Aug/1860 Next pub licensee had


Kentish GazetteKentish Gazette

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-