Lympne Castle

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameLympne Castle
Alternative NamesStutfall; Studfall; Lym; Lymne; Lyme; Lymehille; Belleanow; Hythe, Hethe
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishLympne

Fortified house, now house. Probably C13; mid C14, and C15. Restoration and additions 1907 and 1911-12 by Lorimer. Ragstone, with ashlar dressings and plain tile roofs. Square east tower, probably C13, with C14 stair turret and service rooms to south. C14 hall to west of tower, incorporating solar block within west end and with C14 or C15 north-east: porch. Rectangular C14 west tower, formerly extending further to south, and with semi-circular C15 addition with stair turret, to west side. Further block added to north-west by Lorimer, linked to rectangular west: tower by short, narrow 2-storey range, and by garden wall to gateway and service range to north. North elevation of medieval range: east tower 3 storeys, porch 2 storeys, hall tall single-storey, with lower eaves than porch but incorporating 2-storey solar section to west. West tower 4 storeys. Chamfered stone plinth to east tower and porch, and formerly to hall range. Battered base to west turret. All four sections battlemented above chamfered string. Various stone stacks concealed within battlements of towers. Tall stone ridge stack towards right end of hall range. Irregular fenestration of C15-style stone windows, largely inserted or restored by Lorimer; two cross windows with trefoil-headed top lights, to each of 2 lower floors of east tower. One window of 2 trefoil-headed lights with squared hood-mould to each face of first floor of porch, and narrow rectangular chamfered light to ground floor of west side. 2 tall pointed- arched mullioned and transomed windows to hall, with cusped lights and tracery of vertical bars with quatrefoil. One cusped square-headed 2-light window to each floor of solar section. No visible north windows to west tower. Moulded pointed-arched doorway to porch with squared hoodmould, hollow spandrels and quatrefoils. South elevation of medieval range: irregular elevation to east tower, truncated walls forming buttresses, with fragment of stone south-west door jamb

Buttress beneath hall stack formed from fragment of east wall of a former south extension of solar section, incorporating chamfered, pointed-arched stone doorway. 3 stone corbels under string-course of solar section, with stump of a doubly plain- chamfered stone rib below them. Various 2- and 3-light stone mullion windows. 2 hall windows as on north elevation. Pointed-arched plain- chamfered doorway with broach stops, to east end of hall. Retaining wall running parallel to and about 2 metres south from south elevation, joined by buttress to east end of east tower. East section re-built by Lorimer, West section formerly west wall of south extension of west tower and incorporates 2 blocked pointed-arched garderobe arches on west side. Wall continued to west by Lorimer, curved and branching to form terraced garden. C20 north-west range: east elevation: 1½ and 2 storeys. Irregular facade. 2 gables and dormers to courtyard, with swept eaves. Troll slender stone stacks. Various one, two and three-light stone mullion windows. Panelled door in rectangular moulded stone architrave. North-east corner of range linked to south-east corner of former service range by buttressed stone garden wall. Former service range (now house row): also by Lorimer. Ragstone, with plain tile roof. North (street) elevation: single storey and attics. Canted east stair turret. Stone gable towards centre. 4 stone ridge stacks, and one stack forming straight west side to central gable. 8 hipped dormers. Irregular fenestration of stone mullioned windows, some with idiosyncratically carved architraves and mullions. 4 boarded doors (some later) and 2 blocked doors. Garage and stable block adjoining, but set back, to west, with boundary wall curved round former stable yard. Entrance gates adjoining to east, with tall canted stone flanking walls, and moulded pointed-arched gateway with solid wooden doors. South elevation of service range: stone-arched loggia to south end of garage block. Small stone turret with conical roof in re-entrance angle of garage and main range. Rear central gable incorporating dove-cote and with stone beasts to verge ends. Buttressed garden wall running north-south between east end of gateway and north-east corner of east tower of medieval range. Interior: Medieval range: moulded or plain- chamfered pointed-arched C14 and C15 stone doorways; on ground floor, 2 to east end and 2 to west end of hall, one to north-west end of solar section and one between west tower and rounded west addition; on first floor, to south and east walls of porch (former to a gallery since removed), two to south wall of square east tower, one to west wall of solar section, one between 2 chambers of west tower, and one to south- west stair turret. Stone newel stairs to south-west of square east tower and to south-east of rounded west addition, the latter staircase starting from first floor. Broad C14 or C15 extended four-centred arched moulded stone fireplace to east wall of ground floor of east tower. Smaller, similarly arched C15 moulded stone fireplace to west wall of first-floor room of east tower. Cavetto-moulded stone jambs of C16 fireplace to west end of hall, with moulded wooden bressumer probably designed by Lorimer. Squint between hall and first floor of porch. 4-bay hall roof with 5 trusses (at least partly restored); moulded octagonal crown-posts on moulded tie-beams, with scissor-braces lapped over collars to form sous-laces. Ashlar-pieces and moulded wooden cornice. Similar roof to first floor of solar section, largely restored. Numerous moulded stone doorways and fire-places by Lorimer. Linenfold panelling, probably early C20, to hall. Most ceilings by Lorimer. A few early C20 hinged decorative iron brackets for curtains. Early C20 vaulted ceiling to first-floor room of east tower. Early C20 north-west range (only partly inspected): panelling and plaster ceiling to south-west ground- floor room. Staircase of 1907 with turned balusters and finials of carved wooden beasts. Variety of moulded stone fireplaces. Boarded doors. Interior of former service range not inspected. Lympne granted to Archdeacons of Canterbury from C11. Castle commands extensive views from Dover to Hastings. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Stutfall is the name usual given to the Roman Saxon Shore fort at the base of the cliff overlooked by Lympne, but is occasional also given to the medieval site. However, it is possible that medieval references taken to be this castle may refer to the Roman fort or the possible medieval castle known at Court at Street. Gervase of Canterbury records that Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, demanded the custody of a tower at Hethe (Hythe) in 1163. This was not Saltwood, which is separately named (also as a tower). The tenurial history would suggest this was Lympne, rather than Court at Street. The current remains are dated as C13-C14 but a C12 origin, as a fortified house, is possible.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTR119346
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Copyright Paul Wells All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Paul Wells All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 369
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  • Newman, John, 1976, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (Harmondsworth) p. 394
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  • Hasted, Edward, 1799 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 8 p. 282- online transcription
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  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 250, 256-7
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 65-6 online copy


  • Goodall, J., 2016 June 29, ‘A retreat from the sea; Lympne Castle, Kent, part I’ Country Life p. 42-37
  • 2000-2001, 'Lympne Castle - Kent' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 14 p. 19-21 online copy
  • Rigold, S.E., 1970, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 126 p. 260-262
  • Aymer Vallance, 1932, 'Report of proceeding, 1931' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 44 p. 294 online copy
  • 1918, The Builder Vol. 114 p. 9-10
  • Aymer Vallance, 1914, 'Lymne Castle' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 18 p. 436- online copy
  • 1914, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 20 p. 206-7
  • 1910 Dec, Country Life Vol. 28 p. 682-9
  • 1896, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 53 p. 387-8 (slight) online copy
  • Scott Robertson, W.A., 1889, 'Lymne Castle and Church' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 18 p. 436-446 online copy
  • 1884, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 40 p. 233-7 online copy

Guide Books

  • Margary, Harry, n.d. c. 1960, Guide to Lympne Castle, Kent
  • Anon, n.d., Lympne Castle, Kent (London and Ashford: Headley Brothers) (said to written with advice from S. Rigold)

Primary Sources

  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1879, The Chronicle of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 1 p. 174 online copy