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 insurgent 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.
A story is told respecting Charles Dymoke, in 1689 the Champion of the Oranges. It can be found in the "Gazetteer" for August, 1784, nearly a century afterwards, and is therefore open to some suspicion. It runs as follows:
The Champion of England (Dymoke), dressed in armour of complete and glittering steel, his horse richly caparisoned, and his beaver finely capped with plumes of feathers, entered Westminster Hall, according to ancient custom, while the king and queen were at dinner. And, at his giving the usual challenge to any one that disputed their majesties' right to the crown of England, . . . . after he had flung down his gauntlet on the pavement, an old woman, who entered the Hall on crutches, . . . . took it up, and made off with great celerity, leaving her own glove with a challenge in it to meet her the next day, at an appointed hour, in Hyde Park. This occasioned some mirth at the lower end of the Hall, and it was remarked that every one was too well engaged to pursue her. A person in the same dress appeared the next day at the place appointed, though it was generally supposed to be a good swordsman in that disguise. However, the Champion of England politely declined any contest of that nature with one of the fair sex, and never made his appearance.
Lewis Dymoke (d. 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 in 1821 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 this occasion was the last in full armour. But at the coronation of King Edward VII H. S. Dymoke bore the standard of England in Westminster Abbey.
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 while he bore the Union Standard.
The novelist Anthony Powell was a descendant of the family on his mother's side.
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.
- Musson 2004.
- Elliott, Ray (July 2001). St Mary's Horncastle - a church tour. The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary's, Horncastle.
- "Dymokes - Royal Champions". Horncastle Worthies. Horncastle Civic Society. 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
- british-history.ac.uk: Westminster Hall Notable events, Ch LXII: "Westminster Hall.—Incidents in its Past History."
- Musson, A.J. (2004). "Dymoke family (per. c.1340–c.1580)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/42007. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Lodge, The Rev. Samuel (1893). Scrivelsby, The Home of the Champions. Horncastle: W K Morton.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- 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.