Eythorne is a civil parish and small village of about 1000 homes, located 7.3 miles NNW of Dover in Kent. There are currently about 2500 residents. Eythorne holds many historical attributes. Situated a few miles away from Dover beach, it offers many articles of evidence of the war. It is in close touch with neighbouring village Shepherdswell, together they provide a historical trip that presents the region under the influence of the war. Eythorne has never had any coal mines the nearest one was at Tilmanstone – and that closed and was filled in over 20 years ago.
Eythorne Baptist Church is over 450 years old and one of the first Baptist churches in the UK. Esther Copley, wife of William Copley, who was minister in Eythorne from about 1839 to 1843, was a prolific and successful writer of children’s books and books on domestic economy. She died in the village in 1851.
The village is on the East Kent Railway, a heritage railway.
Eythorne had three pubs, The Crown, which is still trading and the White Horse and the Palm Tree, now closed. The Palm Tree is now a residential property
Eythorne is in two halves, Lower Eythorne where the C of E Church is situated, and Upper Eythorne which was the village commercial centre. The RC Church did not exist in its current format until the 70’s.
Eythorne now has only one shop, a post office newsagent with a few general goods, but has previously had many more which is currently owned by a young man named Jamie. In 1960, Chapel Hill had a double fronted Coop store, a haberdashery, bicycle shop, greengrocery and another food shop. At its junction with Sandwich Road was a separate newsagent opposite the post office. A little further, along was the still existing garage, owned for many years by the Hampshire family (who also owned the Post Office together with the one in Elvington, the mining village a mile to the North). It sold petrol until around 1980. The current hairdresser is relatively recent, having been opened only about 30 years. Before this, the village chemist was in the same place (Last pharmacist Mrs Crossland). Further along Sandwich Road was the bakery (Last baker, Mr Clayton). The old bake house still exists. Immediately next door was the old Eythorne School, for all ages to 14, which closed during the war due to the Butler Education Act. This then became a factory until demolition in the 70’s for housing. Next to this was an old green building, which for most of the time after WW2 housed Hampshire’s coaches, but its deep dug out floor would have shown its earlier use as the Eythorne Cinema. This also fell to housing in the 70s. A little further still, on the opposite side was Eythorne Haulage Yard, previously a coal yard, this went to housing shortly after.
Nor was this the end of Eythornes’ shopping delights! A Mrs Simmonds ran a tiny Sweet and food store in the ancient building opposite side of Church Hill to the White Horse, and a Spar shop and Butchers were situated near to the Crown Pub. All these operated through the early 60’s closing one by one into the 70’s. Even unmade New Road had a shop purpose built in its short terrace of early Edwardian housing, closed for many years it reopened in the late 60s, trading into the seventies before closing again (Mrs Bryson)
A hairdresser existed at the village centre roundabout, together with the Cafe, a centre for ‘ton up’ boys on motorcycles in the 1950s and early 1960s (Mr Townsend). A Mr Mears ran a builders’ yard between the cafe and the Crown, and opposite the Crown was a forge. Down at the Junction of Green Lane and Monkton Court Lane was a food canning factory which was just along the footpath, to the East of the quaint cottages. The village doctor (Bellamy) worked from his home in Coldred Road.
Farm industry existed in Eythorne Court farm, and a further farm along the footpath from Chapel Hill which runs west parallel to railway. Much of the 1960s these were run by the Ledger family. Bill Davis ran a small holding in New Road in the 1950s, taken over by his son in law and grandson, Eddie and Ted Watson, who produced free-range eggs on a considerable scale. There was also an old farmyard in Green Lane, which was derelict in the 1950s and went to housing in the 1960s. Eythorne also had a rhubarb canning factory which was in operation until after the war. Also a blacksmith’s opposite the Crown in the buildings fell into disuse and were redeveloped in the 1980s. Along the Colred Road was the site of the original Baptist church until the late 19th century, when it was moved to Chapel Hill due to a neighbour complaining about being woken up on Sunday with loud hymn singing. That neighbour bought the land for the chapel, which is still being used till this day. The nearby woods along the Coldred Road, is named locally as Thommies Hole and was used as a training ground during the war. Some of the trenches dug can still be made out. There was also a narrow-gauge railway line, and that is now used as a footpath (although largely overgrown); you can still see some of the sleepers in place.