Dr Syn rides again in new publication


THE terrifying marsh phantom Dr Syn is revived in a new book by local author Keith Swallow.

Dr Syn, with his sinister scarecrow disguise, was the creation of author Russell Thorndike and inspired by smuggling legends on Romney Marsh.

The book, entitled The Book of Syn - Russell Thorndike, Dr Syn and the Romney Marsh, is launched at the Mermaid Inn, Rye on Friday March 22 from 6.30pm - 8.30pm.

The historic Mermaid provides a fitting setting for the launch with its association with the notorious Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers who allegedly drank there with loaded pistols on the tables.

The Dr Syn legend is synonymous with Romney Marsh and relates to legends of Marsh phantoms and bogeymen evolved by smugglers to frighten off any unwanted presence while they went about their shadowy business.

In the novel, Dr Syn was the leader of a smuggling ring but was also a country vicar based at Dymchurch on the Marsh.

This has historical association as it was common for country parsons used to be comp licit in smuggling and there are many tales of local vicars hiding barrels of French brandy under pews and in the church tower until they could be safely moved.

It is even reflected in a line from the famous Kipling smuggling poem - “brandy for the parson, baccie for the clerk”.

Thorndike wrote six Dr Syn books in all, published between 1915 and 1944. Thee have also been three film versions including one by Disney in 1963.

The new book is published by Pett based Edgerton Publishing Services and should be available through local bookshops following publication.