"The Official Website of "The Lost Village of Dode"
In an almost forgotten valley between Luddesdaown and Holly Hill, astride the North Downs of Kent this beautiful Norman building stands sentinal over the site of it's former village.
Come with us if you will to this most magical of places
The Lost Village of Dode was voted in the Independent in 2011 as being one of the countries 50 best Wedding venues, and has featured as a "Dream Venue" on BBC Televisions Don't Tell The Bride. Dode was a finalist in 2013 in the Kent Wedding Awards.
06 Nov 2012, Rhiannon & Rocky Haines
“In my opinion, Dode Church is one of the most beautiful buildings in England. The photos, although lovely, don’t truly do it justice”
06 Oct 2012, Claire Hyland
“The grounds, the church and stones are
picture postcard. The church was beautifully decorated with candles and hops and lavender. All tell me it was the most memorable wedding they had ever been to”
10 Aug 2011, Mr & Mrs Warfield
“ This place is beyond perfect. Its more than magical, its more than spiritual (in a non religious way), its breath taking, its positive, its epic and its emotional. If we could re live this day again and again, we would”
21 December 2012, Libby and Keith
"A totally perfect place for one of the most important days of your life"
Father Michael Robson ITV Sunday Sunday
"Here I find things that are eternal"
"One of the most moving churches that I have ever set foot in"
2nd August 2013 - Rob and Sophie
"it was a perfect and unforgettable day and best of all we got to include our horses and dog. I cannot thank you enough for making our dream come true."
The Lost Village of Dode Is undoubtedly one of the most exclusive and sought after Wedding venues in Kent.
Its unique marriage room, built over 900 years ago is small in scale and suitable for parties of up to a maximum of only 45 people – people that are truly special to you as a couple. Only one wedding per day is held on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays from the 1st April to the 31st October each year. Every wedding ceremony is special and unique to your individual requirements.
Christmas weddings on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays may also be held from the 1st until the 23rd of December.
Arranging a wedding can sometimes be daunting. To help we have an experienced wedding Co-ordinator who can talk you through every aspect of the build up to the day itself and if required to arrange any aspect for you.
To see a number of testimonials relating to Dode please visit
Hire Charges for ceremony
2015 from £1,700.00
2016 from £1,800.00
2017 If booked before September 2015, 2016 prices apply
The following is a list of colleagues who regularly attend Weddings at Dode
We have no financial incentive to recommend them, we do so because not only are they local but they share our ethos and are fully committed to making each couples day special in every way.
Photographer - Matt James - www.mattjamesphotography.co.uk
Photographer - David Fenwick - www.davidfenwick.co.uk
Photographer - Ian Booth - www.ianboothphotography.co.uk
Jon Sutton - Telephone Number: 07799 265820
Caterer - Jo Leek - www.whiteheadcatering.co.uk
Caterer - Flying Pig Roast - www.flyingpighogroast.co.uk
Mini Bus Hire - Grange Travel - www.grange-travel.co.uk
Taxis - www.meophamcars.co.uk
Wedding Car Hire - White Rose - www.whiterose-carhire.co.uk
Duo-Haste - Larry Klatzko - Telephone Number: 01233 750461
Harpist - Romona - www.ramonamusic.co.uk
Harpist - Carys Hughes - Telephone Number: 07759 930200 - www.classicalweddingentertainment.co.uk
Birds Of Prey - Lavenham Falconry - www.lavenhamfalconry.co.uk
Free Fying Doves - www.beau-doves.co.uk
Owl Delivery of Rings - NuptuOwls - www.nuptuowls.co.uk
Caricaturist - Richard Nairn - www.myspace.com/richnairn
In keeping with the ancient way of life that Dode holds so sacred and as a result of considerable public demand we are able (in addition to performing Civil Ceremonies)to conduct Hand Fastings which are often referred to as Pagan Weddings.
Whilst it has no legal significance - a Hand Fasting is a binding of a couples “ hearts and souls” publicly performed and enacted before their relatives and friends. The vows that they make express both individual frailties and united strengths in an ancient ceremony which far pre-dates marriage itself.
At Dode whilst offering considerable guidance in a structured Hand Fasting format we encourage individual promises and vows to be written and made, each vow ( usually seven) being accompanied by the couples hands being tied together (hence Hand Fasting). It is usually concluded by the couple "jumping the broom stick" a symbol of their new life together.
Hand Fastings are full of ancient folk- law and meaning, spanning not just centuries but millennia. At Dode we are more than happy to discuss and explain this ancient ceremony (which is now gaining considerably in popularity) with all couples who are interested.
The Lost Village of Dode is now available for all to share, its magical atmosphere provides a backdrop for your special day. Private gatherings for up to 40 of your guests can be tailored to suit your needs at those important days of your life, be it a wedding, welcoming a new child, or saying goodbye to a loved one.
At times such as this the sharing of food and drink has always been a central feature. The sharing of sustenance is perhaps the greatest of our common bonds.
At Dode simple fare can be provided to meet guests particular and dietary requirements, although in keeping with the atmosphere, whole lambs, hogs and poultry, spit roasted on site, are a regular feature particularly for weddings, and three meat roasts are especially popular.
In addition the requirement for "Afternoon Teas" can be met
The unique setting and environment at Dode is also considered ideal for small family events in the warmer days where an unusual and clearly unique venue is required, and an outside element is important.
To Celebrate the Millennium a new building a companion for the old – was erected, the first at Dode in over 650 years. Beautifully crafted in English Oak and with traditional materials and ironwork the Retreat was specifically designed to promote inward reflection whilst offering unparalleled views and complete serenity in this most remote of Kentish locations. Each of the two cottages contains a Sitting room, Kitchen area, 1/2 bedrooms and 1/2 shower/w.c. The larger unit 2 bedrooms contains a Jacuzzi. Each is fully equipped to a high standard.
The Retreats were architect designed to the specific and exacting specification of the Owner, Douglas Chapman. A blueprint of 10 features (which would probably in todays mass produced and “compliant” age be considered unusual) included the brief to use as far as possible wholly sustainable or re-claimed materials; the requirement for the sleeping areas to be completely dark at night by the use of medieval style shutters; and the therapeutic affect of rain falling on the roof and dripping from the eaves to be heard internally, in other words to take our guests back to a bygone and simpler age, whilst providing all modern conveniences.
If you require further details please contact Hideaways:
Woodside (Sleeps 4)
Hill View (Sleeps 2)
Please check back, we will post details of all events
At a time of loss we often re-evaluate our lives, it is a natural process which is perhaps common to all mankind. Part of this process is to find our true place in the world - what we stand for – how we love and are loved – why indeed we exist.
At times such as this continuity with the past, a sense of “belonging” is important. The single thread that joins time present with time past becomes for a while clearer. Many people have found this continuity with the past comforting particularly when encircled and protected by the ancient walls of this sacred place, a place which has seen every human emotion.
Within these four walls you become “at one” with the people who wept here 800 years ago, their feelings exactly the same as your own, you are part of a never ending story, one that will be told in this place for generations to come – for Dode is more than a building it is a moulding together of the human spirit existing in times present, past and future.
In this beautiful valley overlooked by the ancient church and surrounding woodland your loved ones ashes may be scattered and memorial trees planted, a fitting tribute in a timeless place.
An experienced and compassionate celebrant will fully liaise with you in the days prior to the ceremony and, should you wish, will lead the proceedings.
Baby Welcomings and Naming's
In addition to Weddings we are able to provide Baby Welcomings and Namings in which the family play a much greater and (in our opinion) a more meaningful role than they do in traditional Baptism. Family involvement particularly of the Elders (Grandparents etc) is encouraged and a fully trained Celebrant is on hand to assist, although always in a relatively low key capacity.
Renewal of Vows
For many couples the renewing of Vows, perhaps taken many years ago is a meaningful and emotional moment. It is an important reminder to family and friends alike, of the importance of companionship and trust. The sacred element of the words spoken in such an ancient place is a moving force indeed: again a fully trained Celebrant is available to assist if required.
If you would learn of history - of a fragment of rural history in these hidden vales of Kent - come with me to this Ghost Village of Dode - So wrote Donald Maxwell - 1926.
This Little Norman Building is a rare and magical place indeed, looking almost exactly as it did some 900 years ago when it was first built in the reign of William Rufus, the son of the Conqueror.
As you stand beneath the massive stone arch, you stand where, over 800 years ago, a Priest told of the death of Thomas Becket. As you sit beneath the sturdy Oak roof, you sit where almost exactly 650 years ago the Villagers prayed for their loved ones as the Black Death swept England. You are in their space within the four walls which they Knew.
Dode is more than an ancient building, for it is a far older place than perhaps we can imagine, it's beginnings go back into
the mist of time. If you walk into the meadow surrounding the Building you will see that it is build on a substantial mound which is man-made. The hill which totally surrounds and shelters the Building has been known from time immemorial as Holly Hill and the Building is approached by a narrow roadway which goes nowhere, its ancient name is Wrangling Lane. Here then are the clues to a site of deep antiquity, for Holly Hill is a corruption of Holy Hill and the name Wrangling Lane indicates that here on this mound may well be the site of a Moot or Meeting Place perhaps going back thousands of years.
Archaeological evidence confirms occupation of the site during the Roman period and on a still night when the moon is full it is not difficult to imagine pre-Christian rites in this secluded Valley where real harmony with nature still exists, Dode is indeed a place of myth and legend.
The mound stands at the end of a ley-line which stretches to the east for some 10 miles, exactly upon this line stands three Pre-Reformation Churches, two Roman sites, a Bronze Age Burial Ground and two of the Medway Megaliths, the Coffin Stone and enigmatic Little Kits Coty.
Ancient stones are also to be found on the ley-line including a substantial Sarsen now buried within the fabric of the building itself. This truly is an ancient place, steeped in history which is needed as much today as it was in the distant past, and perhaps more.
The Village of Dode was destroyed in 1349 as a result of the Black Death and shortly afterwards the building was abandoned, it was not to be used for regular worship again. If you have read the last few lines quickly, please re-read them, and think exactly what they mean. To help, visualize that the last Masses were said and that the Building had been silent and sleeping for almost 150 years before Columbus discovered America. Indeed it was to remain asleep until 1901 when it was purchased by a local antiquary who restored it at his own expense, thereafter it gradually began to wake up and for the last 95 years occasional use has been made of the building although it is still very much a silent place.
Today Dode is in private ownership and after an almost unimaginable time span, regular use is again made of the building. To celebrate the millennium a beautiful retreat building has been constructed in English Oak - a place of solitude and peace for those wishing to escape the world for a few days.
Responding to requests from many couples to be married at Dode, some 16 years ago it was licensed as a Civil Wedding Venue, a use which continues. Baby naming's, Renewals of Vows and Memorial Services are also a feature of this sacred place. The basic simplicity of the building, which has always been Dodes abiding strength, will however remain unaltered. Light will only be provided by candles and braziers, and straw and autumn leaves scented with herbs will always cover the floor.
The 12th Century seating - still in place - around the walls will continue to be used and to provide a reminder of the circle of our forefathers who once gathered here to celebrate important times in their lives, long before any building occupied this special place.
Dode has been loved and cared for the last 25 years by Douglas & Mary Chapman
Turn off the A228 at Cuxton and proceed along Bush Road.
At the junction take left fork, sign posted Luddesdown.
Follow this lane and watch out for the signpost indicating
Before reaching Great Buckland there is a 'no through road' sign to the left. This is the lane leading to Dode & which is on the right after half a mile or so.
Post Code DA13 0XF
GPS E 0.39491° N 51.34817°
Some of the sights you may see on your journey to Dode.
Mary & Doug Chapman
For further details or
if you would like to visit.