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Shepway District
Non-metropolitan district
Shepway shown within Kent
Shepway shown within Kent
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
Non-metropolitan county Kent
Status Non-metropolitan district
Admin HQ Folkestone
Incorporated 1 April 1974
 • Type Non-metropolitan district council
 • Body Shepway District Council
 • Leadership Leader & Cabinet (Liberal Democrat (council NOC))
 • MPs Damian Collins
 • Total 137.7 sq mi (356.7 km2)
Area rank 285th (of 326)
Population (mid-2014 est.)
 • Total 63,176
 • Rank 309th (of 326)
 • Density 460/sq mi (180/km2)
 • Ethnicity 97.3% White
1.5% S.Asian
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
ONS code 29UL (ONS)
E07000112 (GSS)
OS grid reference

Shepway is a local government district in Kent, England which takes up the south-east corner of the county. Its council is in the town of Folkestone.

Most of the population live in the coastal towns of Folkestone and Hythe. In landscape villages interspersed with woods along parts of the North Downs are in the north. In the south is a coastal expanse of lower lying, periodically reclaimed villages over the centuries in less forested Romney Marsh which has a number of communities extensively built in the medieval period and 17th century as centres of the Romney Marsh wool trade. Contrasting with this the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and M20 motorway influence the economy in part of the north of the district and a source of employment across Shepway is in the tourism and allied retail sectors. Folkestone has a number of Business Parks. The Lydd peninsula has two largely 17th century towns: Lydd and New Romney, beaches at Greatstone-on-Sea, Camber Sands. In built structures it has the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Lydd Airport and the Old Lighthouse, at the apex of the peninsula are the employment sites of the present and former power stations.


  • History 1
  • Governance 2
    • Wards of the United Kingdom 2.1
    • Transgression in 2011 2.2
    • Third tier 2.3
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
  • History of Shepway 4
  • Housing and architecture 5
  • Economy 6
  • Transport 7
  • Notable people from Shepway District 8
  • References 9


The modern district covers roughly the same area as the Lathe of Shepway, which contained the hundreds and liberties of Aloesbridge, Bircholt, Folkestone, Ham, Heane, Longport, Loningborough, Lydd, Newchurch, New Romney, Stouting/Stowting, Street and Worth. Its 1861 population was 51,826.[1] The lathe originated as the territory of the Limenwara, one of the regiones of Jutish Kent,[2] but had become obsolete by the end of the 19th Century, before reappearing in its present guise in 1974. Windmills served to assist pumping of water as well as grinding of corn, barley, rye and wheat in the district.

The Royal Court of Shepway, which met near Lympne at a place called Shepway Cross, was the principal court of the Cinque Ports Federation.[3] Shepway District Council uses the Folkestone White Horse as a logo.


The district was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of Folkestone, Lydd and New Romney [Municipal] Boroughs along with Elham and Romney Marsh Rural Districts.

Wards of the United Kingdom

The District Council consists of 30 councillors representing 13 wards.:[4]

  • Folkestone: six wards (Broadmead; Cheriton; East Folkestone; Folkestone Central; Folkestone Harbour; Sandgate and West Folkestone)
  • Hythe
  • Hythe Rural
  • New Romney
  • North Downs East
  • North Downs West
  • Romney Marsh
  • Walland and Denge Marsh

Following the May 2015 elections, the composition of Shepway District Council is 22 Conservatives, seven UKIP and one Labour.

Transgression in 2011

In 2011, Lydd Airport's owners, seeking to expand the airport, gave gifts to councillors that the councillors did not declare.[5]

Third tier

This consists of town councils in Folkestone, Hythe, New Romney, Lydd and Hawkinge; and the following parish councils:[6]

(M) Parishes marked thus are served by a parish meeting, not a parish council


Shepway occupies the most southerly part of Kent. It is bounded on the north by Ashford and Canterbury Districts; on the east by Dover District and on the south by the Strait of Dover. The Romney and Walland Marshes cover a good deal of its area to the west; where the North Downs begin to reach the sea there is much more in the way of settlement. The four towns in the District are all located along the coast.


Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).[7]

Climate data for Shepway, UK
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 38
Source: Weatherbase [8]

History of Shepway

Shepway was an ancient division of Kent and originated, probably in the 6th Century, during the Jutish colonisation.[9] It was originally named Lympne, but by the thirteenth century its name was changed to Shepway. It was one of the seven original lathes of Kent and remained after that number was reduced to five. Like the other lathes it contained several hundreds.[10]

Map showing Shepway in 1900 compared with Shepway in 1974, with the parishes now in Dover and Ashford Districts so indicated
Map showing Shepway in 1900 compared with Shepway in 1974, with the parishes now in Dover and Ashford Districts so indicated

The lathe was an important administrative, judicial and taxation unit for 600 years after the Domesday Book. The Sheriff toured the county twice yearly attending on the lathes, however the lathe court became anomalous as it fell between the hundredal courts below and the Justices of the County (in petty and quarter sessions) above.[11] When the lathe and division of the lathe were used as the basis for meetings of local justices of the peace in monthly or petty sessions, Shepway became the unit for this purpose, however a group of hundreds in the middle of the Lathe of Scray, centred on Ashford, were for convenience attached to the Lathe of Shepway for petty sessional purposes. These were the four Hundreds of Felborough, Wye, Calehill, and Chart and Longbridge, with the township of Ashford.[12]

The corporation of Romney Marsh, although within Shepway, possessed its own quarter and petty sessions (separate from the county).[13]

Although not formally abolished, Shepway fell out of usage at the end of the 19th Century, only to reappear on 1 April 1974 as a merger of the boroughs of Folkestone, Hythe, Lydd and New Romney, along with Elham and Romney Marsh Rural Districts.[14] Some parishes along the northern boundary of Shepway were left out when it was revived as a local government unit in 1974, principally those that were in the Hundreds of Ham and Bircholt (Barony). Also omitted were some parishes in Folkestone Hundred, just east of the town. Nevertheless, Shepway is the only one of the five lathes of Kent that recognisably continues as a principal local government unit of the county to the present day.[15]

Housing and architecture

Saltwood Castle

The layout of the main towns is one of Victorian streets interspersed with apartment blocks, including a few tower blocks with otherwise housing in the district formed of low-rise apartments, semi-detached, terraced or (less often) detached homes with typically smallholdings or small gardens.

The number of listed buildings in the district exceeds 200. This includes 18 churches listed in the highest grading in the national listing system (Grade I). Three castles or their bailey towers survive from the medieval period.

An examples at Grade I is Davison's Mill, a large windmill set by a green rolling lawn.


In economic terms, Shepway is the third most deprived area in Kent, after Thanet and Swale. Like them, it has a high rate of unemployment; poor educational attainment figures; and with the majority of businesses being small operations.[16]

The major source of economy is, however, tourism. Events and venues are widely publicised.[17][18]


The M20 crosses the north of the District to end at Folkestone, carrying traffic from London, M25 and Maidstone to the district.

Also following the M20 is the A20 which goes by nearby villages in the district. The A20 also continues onto Dover.

The A259 south coast road starts at Folkestone via Hythe, Kent and Romney Marsh in the district to Rye, East Sussex, Hastings, Bexhill-on-Sea, Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Chichester to Emsworth near Portsmouth.

The A260 leaves Folkestone to the A2 for Canterbury.

The A2070 links the Romney Marsh to Ashford and the M20.

Stagecoach in East Kent operate all local buses in the district to Dover, Canterbury, Hastings, Maidstone and Ashford. Stagecoach also run coach route 021 to London from the district on behalf of National Express.

The South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 both cross the district. Domestic trains are provided by Southeastern and serve the stations of Westenhanger, Sandling, Folkestone West and Folkestone Central in the district. Trains go to London Charing Cross via Ashford International and Tonbridge to the west and Ramsgate via Dover Priory to the east.

The western end of the Channel Tunnel is at Cheriton, just west of Folkestone and trains that carry cars are provided by Eurotunnel. The tunnel is accessed by the M20 and the A20. Eurostar also use the tunnel but its nearest station to the district is next door in Ashford at Ashford International.

There is no longer cross channel ferry services in the district but there is lots out of the Port of Dover, down the road in Dover.

The Royal Military Canal starts at Seabrook, near the sea at Sandgate, and runs through Hythe town centre and the northern edge of the Romney Marsh.

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is a miniature steam railway that from Hythe to Dungeness via Dymchurch and New Romney and some more little stations.

The North Downs Way, and the other Kent long-distance footpaths.

Several long distance footpaths cross the District, including the Saxon Shore Way and the North Downs Way; shorter walks include the ’’Elham Valley Walk’’ and the ’’Royal Military Canal Path’’.

Lydd Airport is also in this district which handles small passenger flights to Le Touquet in France and Cargo flights to Ostend, Belgium. The Airport is served by routes 11 and 101.

Notable people from Shepway District


  1. ^ John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales,pub 1870-72 (quoted by
  2. ^ Brooks, Nicholas (1998), Anglo-Saxon Myths: State and Church, 400-1066, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, p. 59,  
  3. ^ The Cinque Ports: Royal Court of Shepway
  4. ^ Elections 2007 to Shepway wards
  5. ^ "Lifting the Lydd". Private Eye (1300). November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Details of town and parish councils
  7. ^ Climate Summary for Shepway, UK
  8. ^ "". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on July 9, 2013.
  9. ^ Dartford Country - The Story Of The Hundred Of Axstane by Geoff Porteus, 1985,ISBN 9780860232032 (page 13)
  10. ^ Vision of Britain: Lathe
  11. ^ Dartford Country - The Story Of The Hundred Of Axstane by G. Porteus (page 32)
  12. ^ Edward Hasted's The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7 (1798), pp. 262-263)
  13. ^ The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, (see section of Petty Sessions)
  14. ^ Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c.70)
  15. ^ See list of parishes by lathe and hundred in the census tables in Victoria County History, Kent Volume 3 (publ.1932, ed William Page, ISBN 9780712906081), along with the list of parishes on the official web sites of the local authorities Kent ( Shepway (
  16. ^ ‘’Choose Shepway’’: Economic Regeneration Strategy, 2007-2017
  17. ^ Community website for Shepway
  18. ^ Tourist information and community website for Shepway

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