A passion for local history, specifically the history of their former shop, is what sparked the creation of the Dymchurch and District Heritage Group.

Colin Walker and his wife Margaret used to own and run Wellworths, a Dymchurch emporium adored by locals and visitors alike for its assortment of beach gear, sweeties, and everything you could ever need – or never even thought you might want! – for a great day out.

After the couple retired, and inspired by their shared love of history, they decided to write the story of their shop – an endeavour which resulted in the Dymchurch & District Heritage Group, started in 2012 and going from strength to strength 10 years later.

Very sadly, Margaret passed away in November 2021, and is greatly missed by all her family and friends in the village and beyond.

Colin has continued with their shared passion – we talked to him about his work.


Colin and Margaret’s painstaking research tells the story of Wellworths, a village shop in Dymchurch from 1784 to 2010 and still trading today, under a different name.

Over the years it was owned by the Walker, Francis, Pope, Packman, Caister and Parris families, and saw the reigns of nine monarchs from George III onwards, as well as the Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer and both World Wars.  It remembers Wellington and Waterloo, Nelson and Trafalgar, and of course shipwrecks, smuggling and Dr Syn!

Colin and Margaret knew about the ghost downstairs, thanks to both Colin and the young lad working in the shop…  but it was a member of the Francis family who remembered there was another one upstairs too.

In the early 1970s, just before Colin and Margaret took over the shop, there was some major building work.  In the course of it, in some secret tunnels were revealed beneath a hidden trap door, and a headless and limbless human torso found.  Despite the coroner being called in, no details were ever revealed, and the tunnels soon filled with builders’ debris.  Who knows what secrets were covered up?


“Margaret and I both always loved history, and after we wrote the book it just grew from there.  Others joined in, and we hired a meeting room in the Village Hall to gauge interest and to see what we could do.  I put out 50 chairs – Margaret thought I was out of my mind! – but in the end it was packed out” says Colin.

“From small acorns big oaks grow, and now we have 1,500 members via our Facebook page.  People bring artefacts and documents in, and we are in touch with people all over the world who have an interest in our village and the district.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, the pandemic saw a huge leap in contact from other areas, as people had more time to research their ancestors, or maybe the village where they came on holiday in their childhood.”

The Dymchurch & District Heritage Group is currently housed in the Resource Room at the Methodist Chapel in Church Road, Dymchurch, open from 2-4pm on the first Saturday of the month from March to November.  The group holds regular meetings with guest speakers, with upcoming topics including Deadman’s Island, Dungeness History, and Hop Picking.

Displays of historic photos, maps and artefacts jostle cheek by jowl with folders of information and books – it’s a treasure trove of minutiae about the lives of the people who left their footsteps behind in days gone by, and a place you could spend hours and hours.


With many thanks to Colin Walker, and in loving memory of Margaret.