The History of Capel-le-Ferne is beautifully illustrated in this book produced by the Parish Council
Copies still available @ £7.50
Tel: Cherry for your copy now 01303 255114
Further information on the History of Capel-le-Ferne can be found at
A Short Account of Happenings at Capel-le-Ferne
in the last few years
Although I have only lived in Capel-le-Ferne since April 1986, I thought it might be an idea to record some of the things, and dates, that have occurred during that time regarding the Village. It is very often the case, that when asked how long ago a certain thing happened, the answer can be way out, although some things are imprinted on our minds for ever.
The first thing that will always be remembered, not only by the folk of Capel, but all people of the South of England, was the Great Storm of the early hours of the 16th October 1987. The damage that was caused was unbelievable as not only roofs and windows suffered but even main structures were severely effected, along with trees and fences. Blue Channel Caravan Park suffered extensive damage and around sixty displaced residents were accommodated and fed at the Village Hall for a while. For people who had lived in areas that were bombed, shelled, or otherwise attacked during the Second World War, it was a grim reminder of those days. I was a young paper-boy in Folkestone during 1943/4 and many a time I had to carry my bike loaded with papers over the broken tiles and glass that was strewn across the roads, so it brought back memories for me. There have been numerous books written on the subject, regarding the storm, which covers the incident more fully.
There was also the terrible tragedy on the night of the 6th of March 1987, regarding the cross channel ferry Herald of Free Enterprise. It was a great disaster and several Capel families suffered personal loss.
My next item relates to the lighting of a beacon on the village green. This was something that happened on the night of the 19th July 1988 all along the English Coast to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada. The celebrations were named Fire Over England. The original beacon announcing the approach of the Armada in 1588 was situated on the high ground, which is approximately 560ft; above Mean Sea Level, to the rear of Cauldham Close. I have dusted my history books and have come up with dates that tell me that the Armada passed Dover on the 7th August 1588, although they approached The Lizard on the 30th July, so I am not too sure which date was commemorated. Just to include a little history lesson, the Armada was the brain child of King Philip of Spain aided by the Marquis of Santa Cruz, Spain’s foremost seaman, and started to prepare for the invasion of England on the 17th August 1584. One of the main reasons being was that he was fed up with various English sea captains attacking the Spanish ships in the Caribbean and plundering all the gold. There were many other factors involved, far to many to mention, although another main one was to try to bring England back to Catholicism. The Armada was attacked by the English fleet under Lord Howard, with his lieutenants, Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, as they lay inshore off Calais on the morning of the 8th August and chased them right around Scotland where many of the ships became victims of violent storms. Of the 130 ships that sailed from Corunna barely more than half came back, also two thirds of the 3,000 personal aboard never saw their homes again.
The construction of the new A20, which was opened on the 8th December 1993, brought a sigh of relief to the vast majority of the inhabitants, although I must say that it was probably not a good thing for people who relied on the passing trade. To add to the congestion of traffic prior to the new road being opened, was the work on the Channel Tunnel taking place, this itself was opened on the 6th May 1994. The noise was also a factor, caused mainly by the empty lorries, with aluminium bodywork, rushing back for another load, to help their bonus at the end of the week. I remember my daughter, along with other Mum’s, trying to cross the busy road so as to get their young offspring to school on time. This often meant starting off at a considerably earlier time than would normally be necessary as the traffic at that hour was nose to tail. Also people trying to get to their place of work had problems, as did most folk in the Village. With the opening of the new road, a sense of quiet descended, as motorists travelling from Dover to Folkestone and vice versa tried out the novelty of the new road. This soon wore off, and vehicles started to settle down to an acceptable level, although I believe this accounted to an increase in speed.
The Battle of Britain Memorial was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother on 9th July 1993. The ceremony was seen by a vast crowd of people who had gathered to watch the unveiling. There were a few who stood around the school playing field waiting for the Queen Mother to arrive by helicopter and I was amongst them. There were quite a few R A F personal about regarding safety and security, and one came over to us, and told us the best place to stand for a good view, as they knew exactly where it would land, and which way round. The information was very helpful, as we saw her alight and be met by all the dignitaries before getting into her car. All the school children lined the exit waving their little Union Jacks as she passed including two of my grandchildren Jess and Nick. The weather was dry then although overcast, but it wasn’t long before it started to rain quite hard which rather spoilt the day and the band got soaked. I suppose I could mention a few things about the actual battle only dates are sometimes disputed. It is generally acknowledged that it commenced on the 10th July 1940 and lasted for sixteen weeks. This is a tribute to the pilots who took part in the battle.
Roll of Honour.
Killed in Action
1,822 R.A.F. and other Commonwealth Members 339
56 Fleet Air Arm 9
21 Australian 14
73 New Zealanders 11
88 Canadians 20
21 South African 9
2 Southern Rhodesian 0
8 Irish 0
7 American 1
141 Polish 29
86 Czech 8
26 Belgian 6
13 Free French 0
1 Israel 0
We were informed that the Tour de France was to come our way on the 6th July 1994. On the day in question most of the people from round about lined the route and waited expectantly for the riders to appear. It was an ideal day for the event, a nice temperature, and the sun shining. Ice creams were being enjoyed by the children and also some adults and there was a very happy atmosphere all round. In front of the riders there was a cavalcade of cars and vans, some with free gifts that were thrown to the waiting crowd, these were eagerly snapped up by the children on the roadside. After quite a wait the riders suddenly appeared in the distance, and if you happened to blink your eyes, you missed them, as they were travelling so fast. I think that the speed they travelled surprised nearly every-body as this was mentioned in the local television news that night. Here is a little bit of information to go with this as to what it is all about. Firstly it is considered to be the most prestigious bicycle race in the world, and was established in 1903 by Henri Desgrange a French cyclist and journalist. The annual race involves around 120 contestants and covers 2,500 mls; divided into 21 daily stages. There have been four riders who have won the tour five times each. By the way, this is a men only event, although a Tour de France for women was held between 1984 and 1989.
Samphire Hoe is worth a mention, although it is not within the boundaries of Capel Village. As most people know, it’s name came about as the result of a competition held to find the most original and suitable title. The judges chose Samphire Hoe which was entered by Mrs Gillian Janaway. The name is taken from the plant Rock Samphire which for many years was an important local plant. The area contains nearly five million cubic metres of Chalk Marl which was excavated from the tunnel and surrounded on the seaward side with a lovely concrete promenade. It was opened to the public on the 17th July 1997 and is very popular for fishing and a nice afternoon stroll, with areas for picnicking.
Capel Primary School has for some time, had an exchange programme with a French school in Oye-Plage, which is a village between Calais and Dunkirk. This link was eventually extended to include the whole of the two communities. A formal Twinning Charter was signed by the Mayor of Oye-Plage and the Chairman of the Parish Council during a ceremony at the Capel Primary School on the 26th September 1992. On this occasion a large party from Oye-Plage complete with the Town Band, was entertained in the village for the week-end. There have been regular exchange visits since, and they have been thoroughly enjoyed by all those who have taken part. This is now an ongoing annual event alternating between the two villages and a committee has been set up to organise events.
As most people know, we are about to have a new church in our village, so I thought I would add some dates to the events so far. Saint Mary’s church circa 1100 A D now stands some way from the village centre due in some way to the expansion of the houses towards Folkestone. This mainly came about by Lord Radnor selling off plots of his land by auction in the early 1900’s. These numbered in excess of 700 although it took many years for them to be built upon. With the congregation diminishing in numbers it seemed that a new place of worship, more in the hub of the village was necessary. The idea that a new church would be necessary was thought of several years previous, as a church hall was built on a plot of land in Albany Road given by Mrs E. H. Copping. The funds for the new church took five years to be raised and the building was dedicated by The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr, Michael Ramsey, on Saturday the 22nd of October 1966. The vicar of Capel at the time was the Rev. R. A. F. Parsons.
The building served the parish well for many years, but unfortunately it was never meant to be a permanent construction and was difficult to maintain as it became old. A more conventional building was needed and wheels were put in motion for funds to be raised to finance the project. With money forthcoming, a date was decided on regarding the demolishing of the existing building, and the building of the new. The church hall was to remain. The last service was held on Sunday the 1st of June 1997 and the demolition work commenced the following week. The building of the new church started shortly after, and the work progressed in line and with the speed of modern construction. On the completion of the church, apart for some external work, the dedication was carried out by The Right Reverend Richard Llewellin Bishop of Dover on Wednesday 3rd December 1997. The Priest in charge being The Reverend Gill Calver Vicar of Capel.
The Lancaster Stores was one of the main features in the village for many years and is missed by a lot of people due to its closure in October 1997. The premises were built as a purpose-made shop in 1938 by a local builder, Mr Hartley for his client Mr Seamark. There were two other shops built along-side at the same time, and these have changed over the years, one is now a hairdressers and the other is a private residence. Mr Seamark kept the shop open during the Second World War and had part of the shop as a tea room. This was very popular with troops stationed under canvas in the area. The room was also used by the W.I.
These are just some of the things that I remember, and I would like to thank all those who have assisted me in compiling these memories.
Capel – le – Ferne