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Doctor Syn

The original Doctor Syn book was first published in 1915. Written by Russell Thorndike, brother to the actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, it was clearly written as a one off novel with no consideration given at the time to any further tales of the Dymchurch Vicar or his associates.

However such was the popularity of the book that a further six novels were published some twenty years after the original release, these were written as prequels, Doctor Syn having been killed off toward the end of the first book.

The book "Doctor Syn" tells the story of the vicar of Dymchurch at the turn of the 18th century. The vicar was once the infamous Capt Clegg, a pirate of much repute who was believed to have been hanged 10 years previously in Rye. "Syn" lives a secret life with his true identity known only to the likes of Mr Mipps the church Sexton. Seen as a respectable man of the church to most, he is in fact "The Scarecrow" feared leader of the "Marsh Men", a gang of smugglers that travel the Romney Marsh on horseback at night. All is well in "Syn's" world until the kings men pay an unexpected visit to Dymchurch looking for smugglers.

The Doctor Syn novels written by Russell Thorndike are:

Doctor Syn on the high seas.
Doctor Syn returns.
The further adventures of Doctor Syn.
The amazing quest of Doctor Syn.
The courageous exploits of Doctor Syn.
The shadow of Doctor Syn
The Slype. (Not part of the "Syn" series but includes several of the characters)

All of the books are now out of print except for the original Doctor Syn.

The popularity of the character not only encouraged the author to write the six prequels, it also captured the attention of the movie world with no less than three films being made based on the Doctor Syn character.

Doctor Syn (1937)
This was produced by London Films and was based on the original 1915 novel. It starred George Arliss and Margaret Lockwood. The film ran pretty much as per the novel apart from the end which was changed.

Doctor Syn, Alias the Scarecrow (1962) also known as: "The scarecrow of Romney Marsh"

This was made by Walt Disney Productions and was originally intended to be shown on American TV as three 1 hour episodes. Starring Patrick McGoohan, of Dangerman & The Prisoner fame, a large proportion of it was actually filmed on Romney Marsh using Old Romney church as "Syn's" parish. Some of the characters in the film were not as per the novel, these being taken from a later work about Doctor Syn titled "Christopher Syn" which was written by William Buchanan.

Captain Clegg (1962) also known as: "Night Creatures"
While Walt Disney were writing the script for Doctor Syn, they discovered that Hammer Films (famous for their horror movies) were embarking upon a rewrite of the original 1937 film. Hammer had purchased London Films and as a result now had the film rights to Doctor Syn. Peter Cushing starred as "Syn" but the character was later renamed "Blyss" due to legal intervention by Walt Disney who claimed the rights to the Doctor Syn name.

Dymchurch village celebrates it's connection to the novel by staging a "Day of Syn" on a biennial basis. The year 2006 will see the next of these events which are usually held during the August Bank Holiday weekend. (Check this website for details as they become available)
Re-enactments of various parts of the books can be seen at many locations throughout the village, with the "Kings Men", "Mr Mipps" and of course "The Scarecrow" in attendance.

Contact the Days of Syn committee using the following numbers:Mrs Sheila Jones at 01303 873661 and Mrs Ruth Peters at 01303 874354.


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The Dymchurch Day of Syn.

The Dymchurch Day of Syn.

The Dymchurch Day of Syn.

The Dymchurch Day of Syn.

The Dymchurch Day of Syn.



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