In Roman times Lympne was known as "Portus Lemanis", from which (or from the British eponym of which) the English name is derived. It lay at the end of the Roman road from Canterbury, known today as Stone Street. It was the location of a Saxon Shore fort, and, according to a fifth-century source was garrisoned by a regiment originally raised in Tournai in northern Gaul. Its remains are situated at the bottom of the south-facing cliffs; they lie in private land and cannot be visited, though a reasonable view may be obtained from a public footpath above. In Anglo-Saxon times the fort was given the name "Stutfall", meaning " in which a stud, or herd, is kept".
From 1923 onwards Lympne Aerodrome was home to the Lympne light aircraft trials and air races. In the 1930s it was the starting point for several long distance record flights, including a solo one to Cape Town by Amy Johnson in 1932, and also ones by her later-to-be husband Jim Mollison. Jean Batten later flew from Lympne to Darwin, beating Johnson's long-distance record, in 1934. In the post-war years the world's first air car-ferry service was operated by Silver City Airways between Lympne and Le Touquet. The airport has now been closed and turned into an industrial estate.
Lympne has a village hall, a village shop, a hairdresser and a public house (The County Members), as well as a village football team, LVFC (Lympne Village Football Club).
Lympne straddles the B2067 road from Hythe, Kent to Aldington, Hamstreet and Tenterden. The nearest railway station is at Westenhanger. Lympne is also well known for John Aspinal's Port Lympne Zoo, which occupies the ridge of hills upon which the village stands. Nearby, on the A20 at Newingreen, is reputedly the site of England's second motel.