Paul Nash was here….and here…and here…

Paul Nash and his wife Margaret had a fairly nomadic sort of lifestyle. Paul found new inspiration from a changing environment, although he had a permanent London residence in Judd St. Bloomsbury.

When the Nash’s arrived in Dymchurch, post-World War 1, Paul made a note for his (never completed) autobiography, it said;  “A new life in a different world”.

A few months ago I visited the National Art Library at the V&A in London. This fantastic library in a magnificent setting holds a considerable archive of Nash letters.  My aim was to get to the truth as to where exactly the Nash’s lived during their six year stay in Dymchurch.

Paul Nash outside The Little Cottage

This photograph from “Paul Nash Places”, purports to show Nash in 1920 outside 2 Rose Cottages on the High St.  Anyone who knows the village would confirm that Nash is in fact standing outside ”The Little Cottage”, which is one of a row called Dormers Cottages at the south end of Dymchurch.  I needed to prove that Nash was staying at the Little Cottage, not merely visiting.

I proceeded to wade through the Nash archive searching for the proof for my theory. And indeed there it was, one letter only sent from The Little Cottage, amongst hundreds of others. Nash was announcing that he had arrived in Dymchurch and this was his new address.

The Nash’s only lived there for a short while, around 1921 they moved down the High Street to a property in a row known as Rose Cottages, No; 2 to be precise. They rented from a man called Mr Austin. There is a plaque on the wall  marking where the Nash’s are thought to have lived. The houses have been re-numbered and are no longer called Rose Cottages. So there is some dispute about which one the Nash’s actually used.

2 Rose Cottages (note the plaque above the right hand door)

After a period of about 3 years the Nash’s upped sticks and moved a little further down the road to a little place called Pantiles Cottage, opposite what is now the Waterside Guest House, on the Hythe Road.  Pantiles fulfilled Paul’s desire to live in a small cosy home, he seemed happy and settled there and produced a number watercolours of the interior and surroundings.  In the grounds of the property was a large poplar tree which had a very distinctive shape. The tree was so tall and prominent it was used by fishermen as a landmark when returning to Dymchurch. Nash included the tree in some of his pictures.

Pantiles Cottage

The Nash’s stayed at Pantiles for three years. Growing tired of Dymchurch, Paul wrote;  “Poor Dym is swamped not with water, but with people. Oh what people, I almost wish the sea would come over the wall and drown the bloody lot”  Nothing changes…

A view of the extraordinary poplar tree

In 1925 they moved to Oxenbridge Cottage at Iden near Rye, the artist was no longer inspired by Dymchurch. Paul wrote in his autobiography notes; “We find a home of our own in Iden, goodbye to Dymchurch”

And what of the three properties now?  The two High Street cottages are still there, pretty much the same. Pantiles Cottage is no longer standing, demolished to accommodate the widening of the A259. Sadly, all that remains of the once mighty poplar is its rotting stump.


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