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Searching for Ebony

Paul Tritton

‘Searching for Ebony’ traces the history of one of Kent’s lost villages from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day.

Situated on an island in the Rother estuary, the village prospered during the heyday of shipbuilding and merchant shipping along the River Rother. Its fortunes declined when the river silted-up, leaving its parish church and homes isolated on what became known as Chapel Bank, overlooking Romney Marsh.

The parishioners migrated to the mainland, leaving their parish church without a congregation and beyond repair.

In 1858 the church was dismantled stone-by-stone, carted across the fields, and re-erected a mile away at Reading Street, on the turnpike road to Tenterden, New Romney and Rye.

Occasionally, interments were made in the original church’s graveyard but the site became increasingly unkempt and rarely visited. In the 20th century the Kent Archaeological Society recorded the memorial inscriptions on all the legible headstones in the graveyard, researched the church’s history, and revealed its ‘footprint’ and foundations, dating back to the 12th century.

Reports of these initiatives are included in the book, together with archive photographs illustrating life in Reading Street in past centuries.

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