Romney Marsh is an area of wetlands, covering roughly 100 square miles, in the counties of East Sussex and Kent. Sparsely populated and dominated by farmland crisscrossed by waterways and ditches, it is famous for its big skies, eerie landscapes and sense of isolation. It is also renowned for its considerable population of sheep, of which Romney Marsh are a celebrated breed.
Romney Marsh has a rich and tumultuous history. It was plagued by malaria – otherwise known as marsh fever – until the early 18th century, and was a haven for smugglers, thanks to the isolated shores where contraband could be landed. Its coast is a windswept stretch of sand and shingle, with unique sites such as Dungeness, where an imposing power station and a lighthouse overlook a shore lined with fishing boats and driftwood, and the shingle is dotted with ramshackle bungalows, including the former home of celebrated artist Derek Jarman.
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