Dymoke is the name of an English family holding the office of king's champion. The functions of the champion were to ride into Westminster Hall at the coronation banquet, and challenge all comers to impugn the King's title (see Champion). The earliest record of the ceremony at the coronation of an English king dates from the accession of Richard II. On this occasion the champion was Sir John Dymoke (died 1381), who held the manor of Scrivelsby, Lincolnshire, in right of his wife Margaret, granddaughter of Joan Ludlow, who was the daughter and co-heiress of Philip Marmion, last Baron Marmion. The Marmions claimed descent from the lords of Fontenay, hereditary champions of the dukes of Normandy, and held the castle of Tamworth, Leicestershire, and the manor of Scrivelsby. The right to the championship was disputed with the Dymoke family by Sir Baldwin de Freville, lord of Tamworth, who was descended from an elder daughter of Philip Marmion. The court of claims eventually decided in favor of the owners of Scrivelsby on the ground that Scrivelsby was held in grand serjeanty, that is, that its tenure was dependent on, rendering a special service, in this case the championship.
Sir Thomas Dymoke (d. 12 March 1470) joined a Lancastrian rising in 1469, and, with his brother-in-law Richard Welles, 7th Baron Welles, was beheaded on 12 March 1470 at Queen's Cross, Stamford, Lincolnshire, by order of Edward IV after he had been induced to leave sanctuary at Westminster Abbey by the promise of a royal pardon. The Dymoke estates were restored to his eldest son, Sir Robert Dymoke (died 1546), champion at the coronations of Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII, who also distinguished himself at the Siege of Tournai, and became treasurer of the kingdom. His descendants acted as champions at successive coronations. A second son, Sir Lionel Dymoke (died 1519) was knighted at the siege of Tournai by King Henry VIII. Legend has it that a suit of armour formerly belonging to Sir Lionel, which 'kept guard' over his remains in St. Mary's Church, Horncastle, was taken from the building in 1536 and worn by a Phillip Trotter, one of the insugent leaders of the Lincolnshire Rebellion. The church contains brasses depicting Sir Lionel clad in armour and kneeling on a cushion with plates showing his three daughters and two stepsons.
Jane Dymoke (died 1743) wife of the Hon Charles Dymoke, who was Champion at the coronation of William and Mary is buried alongside Sir Lionel in the church's chancel. Her hatchment bears two devices in the form of a lozenge (the arms could not be depicted on a shield, as ladies were not allowed to bear arms): the Dymoke arms (two white lions) and the Snoden arms (a golden lion), of which she was an heiress. As Charles died without issue the title of Champion passed to his brother Lewis Dymoke of Scrivelsby.
Lewis Dymoke (died 1820) put in an unsuccessful claim before the House of Lords for the barony of Marmion. His nephew Henry (1801-1865) was champion at the coronation of George IV. He was accompanied on that occasion by the Duke of Wellington and Lord Howard of Effingham. Henry Dymoke was created a baronet in 1841; he was succeeded by his brother John, rector of Scrivelsby (1804-1873), whose son Henry Lionel died without issue in 1875, the estate passing to a collateral branch of the family. After the coronation of George IV the ceremony was allowed to lapse, and was the last to participate in full armour. But at the coronation of King Edward VII H. S. Dymoke bore the standard of England in Westminster Abbey.
Mr. Charles Dymoke Green was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting, in 1971.
The novelist Anthony Powell was a descendant of the family on his mother's side.
The current head of the family is Lieutenant Colonel John Lindley Marmion Dymoke, MBE, 33rd of Scrivelsby and 7th of Tetford (born 1926), who attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as Queen's Champion and Standard Bearer.
- Musson, A.J. (2004). Dymoke family (per. c.1340–c.1580). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 8 October 2013. (subscription required) The first edition of this text is available as an article on Wikisource: "Dymoke, John". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Dimock A family website that discusses the origins of the Dymoke family including exhaustive descriptive accounts of the King's Champions. The website also includes the connection between England and the Dymoke family origins in the United States and Canada.
- Scrivelsby : The Home of the Champions (1893) A complete downloadable copy of Samuel Lodge's book.