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Shepway District
—  Non-metropolitan district  —
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 (Conservative)
 • MPs Damian Collins
 • Total 137.7 sq mi (356.7 km2)
Area rank 118th (of 326)
Population (2006 est.)
 • Total 108,200
 • Rank 213th (of 326)
 • Density 790/sq mi (300/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 TR2233835912

Shepway is a local government district in Kent, England.[1] It includes the towns of Folkestone and Hythe and the Romney Marsh. It 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, Street and Worth. Pop. in 1861, 51,826.[2] The Lathe originated in Jutish Kent, but had become obsolete by the end of the 19th Century, before reappearing in its present guise in 1974.

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.

Governance[edit | edit source]

The district was formed on 1 April 1974 and its council offices are in Folkestone.

In 2011, Lydd Airport's owners – who are seeking to expand the airport – gave "gifts to councillors", which councillors did not declare.[4]

The District Council consists of 46 councillors representing 22 wards.[5] Those wards are:

  • Dymchurch and St Mary's Bay
  • Elham and Stelling Minnis
  • Folkestone: nine wards (Cheriton; East; Foord; Harbour; Harvey (two wards, Central and West); Morehall; Park; and Sandgate)
  • Hythe: three wards (Central, East and West)
  • Lydd
  • Lympne and Stanford
  • New Romney: two wards (Town and Coast)
  • North Downs: two wards (East and West)
  • Romney Marsh
  • Tolsford[6]

Following the May 2011 elections, the composition of Shepway District Council is 44 Conservatives and two from the People First party.

The third tier of local government in Shepway consists of town councils in Folkestone, Hythe, New Romney and Lydd; and the following parish councils:[7]

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

Geography[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Climate in this area has mild dfferences 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).[8]

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
Precipitation mm (inches) 38
Source: Weatherbase [9]

History of Shepway[edit | edit source]

Shepway was an ancient division of Kent and originated, probably in the 6th Century, during the Jutish colonisation.[10] 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.[11]

File:Shepway changes map.png

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.[12] 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.[13]

The Corporation of Romney Marsh, although within Shepway, possessed its own Quarter and Petty Sessions (separate from the county).[14]

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.[15] 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.[16]

Economy[edit | edit source]

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.[17]

The major source of economy is, however, tourism. Events and venues are widely publicised.[18][19]

Transport[edit | edit source]

The M20 motorway crosses the District to end at Folkestone. Other main roads include the A259 south coast road and the A260 which takes traffic towards Canterbury. The South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 both cross the district: the western end of the Channel Tunnel is at Cheriton, west of Folkestone.

The Royal Military Canal crosses the northern edge of the Romney Marsh; and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway runs out to Dungeness from Hythe.

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.

Notable people from Shepway District[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ District Council website
  2. ^ John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales,pub 1870-72 (quoted by
  3. ^ The Cinque Ports: Royal Court of Shepway
  4. ^ "Lifting the Lydd". Private Eye (1300). November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Elections 2007 to Shepway wards
  6. ^ Tolsford is an area of small villages below the North Downs and west of Folkestone. It is named after Tolsford Hill
  7. ^ Details of town and parish councils
  8. ^ Climate Summary for Shepway, UK
  9. ^ "". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on July 9, 2013.
  10. ^ Dartford Country - The Story Of The Hundred Of Axstane by by Geoff Porteus, 1985,ISBN 9780860232032 (page 13)
  11. ^ Vision of Britain: Lathe
  12. ^ Dartford Country - The Story Of The Hundred Of Axstane by by G. Porteus (page 32)
  13. ^ Edward Hasted's The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7 (1798), pp. 262-263)
  14. ^ The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, (see section of Petty Sessions)
  15. ^ Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c.70)
  16. ^ 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 (
  17. ^ ‘’Choose Shepway’’: Economic Regeneration Strategy, 2007-2017
  18. ^ Community website for Shepway
  19. ^ Tourist information and community website for Shepway

Coordinates: 51°4′43.86″N 1°10′28.61″E / 51.07885, 1.1746139

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