Sandwich and Deal – Exploring Kent

Our previous explorations have by-passed Sandwich and Deal, so we decided to have a look.
     We went to Sandwich first. Talk about a quiet backwater…… the little town is very pretty, with many attractive old buildings, but it feels as if the world has totally forgotten it.
     Once it was a busy and important Cinque port, but long ago silted up and is now two miles from the sea. The place has an impressive history. The important Roman site at Richborough is nearby. I read that the first elephant to be seen in England landed at Sandwich Quay in 1255, as a gift for Henry III. In 1457, in common with many ports on the Kent and East Sussex Coast, Sandwich was sacked and burned by the French.. In the seventeenth century it was a major embarkation port for colonists heading for the New World. In 1660, during the Restoration, King Charles II anchored in Sandwich. In the 1914-18 war Richborough Fort was a major military camp, and in 1939 the camp was used to house Jewish refugees.
     These days, celebrities are somewhat different, and of course, we had to find the home of the current media stars, Gogglebox’s Dom and Steph. They own the Secret Gardens of Sandwich, and ‘The Salutation’.  The house, designed by Edward Lutyens, is lovely. The  Lutyens/Jekyll gardens were badly flooded, and although we have seen Dom on telly telling us that they are now getting back to normal, we will return to visit later in the year. I bought a nice mauve drum-head primula from the little plant centre, to replace one in the garden here that has died. No signs of Dom or Steph – probably still sleeping off the night before. Philosopher said that if he lived in Sandwich he’d probably take to the gin bottle…..

As seen on TV – where are Dom and Steph?

     Walking along the street, we encountered a couple of visitors who asked us where the ‘main shopping centre’ was – we broke the news that there wasn’t one!
     We had a coffee and a piece of coffee and walnut cake on our way back to the car. The coffee was as strong as I have ever had, and I guess they must have also boiled down the residue of the previous day’s ferocious brew to a super-strong concentrate and used it to make the cake. More about that in a bit….. Here are a few pictures of Sandwich. It is hard to avoid the jokes…..

Who will start me at 20p for the BLT?
Sandwich beacon – or should it be Beacon sandwich har har
Interesting church tower
Toll bridge
Table of tolls – 2s 6d was a lot of money in 1905

      At first view, Deal seemed no big deal….. it has a castle, built by Henry VIII, and a strange 1950s concrete pier. It is clearly a newer place than Sandwich, and was apparently a big naval port in the eighteenth century. It has usual run-down seaside resort High Street full of pound shops, charity shops and bookies, and a lot of pubs. We walked out along the pier, screwed up our eyes to see France, and then discovered the interesting Time-ball Tower, which was originally part of a Napoleonic invasion early-warning system. It then housed the Time-ball, which dropped down its mast at regular intervals to enable ships to set their chronometers. The ball still drops every hour – we saw it go.
     Found a nice old pub for lunch, and were just settling down to our butties and a pint of Shepherd Neame when we were both, simultaneously, seized with gibbering dizziness. Extreme caffeine overdose from earlier on.  It was like being in an Amsterdam coffee shop but without the laughs… Anyway, we had to sit, pale, agitated and clammy until we were able to stagger off down the street. I was actually seeing double at one point.
     So, we have explored all the towns on that top bit of the Kent coast, except for Dover itself. Neither of us were too keen on Margate, Broadstairs I liked, Ramsgate was very interesting. Sandwich we’ll revisit for the gardens. Deal, probably not. Folkestone we liked. I have only blogged about Margate and Broadstairs – shame, I’ll do the others some time. Next, we’ll do along the top of the Thames Estuary – Whitstable, Chatham, Rochester…

Deal Pier
View from the pier
Time ball down….
Time ball up – ready to drop….
Kings Head – nice pub


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