The counties of Kent and (particularly) Sussex have many folkloric legends of great dragon-like monsters said to inhabit the ancient woodlands and forests. Sceptics often discount such beasts as superstition and instead blame possible encounters with adders or escaped reptiles. However, the following accounts suggest that something far bigger than your average snake once lurked in the foamy waters off the coastline of Kent and Sussex.
From Bygone Kent magazine, Vol 6, No. 9, 1985, featured in an article named ‘Submarines, A Ghost And A Sea Monster’ by W.H. Lapthorne, ‘Each year during the silly season the media revel in fresh sightings of Nessie, the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Yet the sea monster encountered off the North Foreland in 1917 was far from legendary and more than just a product of a “wee dram”. In July 1917 the ‘Paramount’, an armed drifter from Ramsgate attached to the famed Dover Patrol, was cruising a mile from the Long Nose Spit, between the North Foreland and Margate. Suddenly the sharp eyes of the look-out sighted a large snake-like creature rearing out of the sea ahead of them “hard on the port bow”, a creature which the startled man later described as being “like some gigantic conger eel about fifty-feet in length, with a long scaly body, a large spiny dorsal fin and dark olive green in colour”. At the approach of the oncoming vessel the creature inquisitively raised its head, as the craft steamed past at a steady eight knots. At a distance of 300 yards the skipper gave the order to open fire on the curious but seemingly inoffensive beast. Six shells were fired, the last of which struck the creature in the dorsal fin. After thrashing violently on the surface for a few seconds it sank from sight in a welter of blood. Years later in 1957 a sequel to this narrative came some miles down Channel at Seaford in Sussex, when local fishermen reported having their nets ripped to pieces by a strange sea serpent some fifty-feet in length, with a long scaly body bearing traces of a deep seven-foot scar. The same thing happened again in 1968, when the incident was reported in a national daily and described as the Martello Monster, as it took place off Martello Tower No. 74 at Seaford, but this time the assailant remained unseen below the surface.’