Travel Back in Time in Thanet

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Tuesday, October 8 2013

The district of Thanet boasts a large number of exciting destinations and attractions. History lovers will find a large number of enchanting towns and villages to explore in Thanet, many of which have preserved their prominent landmarks and offer a wealth of interesting historical attractions. Here is a selection of some of Thanet’s most captivating and vibrant historical attractions.


Exploring the traditional Old Town of Margate is an uplifting experience that people of all ages are sure to love. Old Town is home to Margate’s first harbour, which was built in 1320 and offers visitors an insight into local life in the 17th and 18th centuries. The area is also home to the Theatre Royal, the second oldest theatre in the whole of England. Culture vultures will want to make sure that they catch a show in order to appreciate the layout and acoustics in all its glory. Many of the buildings around the harbour are from different eras and have been restored and renovated to their former glory so this is a great place to wander around and explore on a sunny day.

Image courtesy of ©Iain Farrell (Flickr)


The charming seaside town of Ramsgate is steeped in rich history and can be found high on a cliff overlooking the sea. Taking a trip to the Maritime Museum is the perfect way to gain an insight into Ramsgate’s rich maritime history and can be found in the impressive and eye-catching Clock House (which dates back to the turn of the 19th century) at the Royal Harbour. This harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the UK awarded the right to call itself a “Royal Harbour”. The title was bestowed upon it by King George IV after he was touched by the hospitality and adoration shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour in 1821.

Other local attractions that should not be missed by local history buffs include St Augustine’s, a gothic era church designed by August Pugin and completed by his eldest son, Edward, who was also an architect. While you are there, be sure not to miss The Grange (aka St Augustine’s Grange). This is a Grade I listed Victorian Gothic style building that was also designed by August Pugin, the interior was designed before the outside which was in contrast to the Georgian style that preceded it and was designed to be his personal family home. The interior of the house was completed in 1850 and Pugin passed away just 2 years later at the age of only 40.

Visitors will be able to check out a range of vintage gaming machines in the Pinball Parlour, which is situated inside a stunning Georgian period Italianate greenhouse.

Image Courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)


Situated just a few miles along the coast from Ramsgate, the town of Broadstairs is simply bursting with old world charm.

The town enjoys connections with the popular novelist Charles Dickens as it is said to have been his favourite holiday spot. Visitors who are interested in the life and times of the great writer will want to head straight to the Dickens House Museum. In addition to the hordes of prints and photographs that can be found in this well maintained museum, visitors who wander through the streets of Broadstairs’ old town will find numerous other connections to Charles Dickens.

Wandering along cobbled streets in the pedestrianised section of the town really sets the scene for history lovers, while many of the local cafes and restaurants have been restored to their 19th century appearance and some have even taken on the name of famous Dickens characters. Taking a trip to Bleak House is the perfect way to follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, as this impressive cliff top building is the place where the writer spent his holidays in the 1850s and 1860s.

Visitors can also take one of the local heritage tours, while the Crampton Tower Museum displays a wealth of interesting machines and is a tribute to Victorian era engineering.

Image courtesy of ©Jon Curnow (Flickr)


Take a trip to the tiny village of Birchington-on-Sea to admire the colourful stained glass window that commemorates the burial of poet and Pre-Raphaelite hero Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the Parish church there. His grave is also there and is marked with a large Celtic cross for his gravestone which was designed by his old friend Ford Madox Brown.

Visitors will also want to take the time to wander through the picturesque Quex Park, which is home to a number of interesting historical attractions such as Regency Quex House with its 7 acres of elegant, picturesque, Victorian gardens and natural woodland or the Powell-Cotton Museum, which contains a large number of local curios and one of the most fascinating collections of natural history in the UK.


Why not visit the tiny village of Manston to discover the important role that Thanet played during World War II? A number of legendary aircraft can be viewed in the impressive RAF Manston History Museum and several of the stories of local airmen are retold here in exciting detail.


The village of Minster has been an important religious site since 670 and visiting the gently crumbling Minster Abbey is the perfect way to get a feel for this. Minster Abbey was one of the earliest monastic foundations, rebuilt in 1027 after the original buildings were destroyed during Viking raids of the 9th and 10th centuries. It is believed to be possibly the oldest inhabited house in the country and is now inhabited by Nuns who give guided tours giving an explanation of the historic background to this ancient site.

Visitors can also find the St Augustine’s Cross nearby which, according to legend, marks the very spot where St Augustine met with King Ethelbert and preached his first sermon to people of England in 597. There is a Latin inscription on the base of the cross which can be translated as:


"After many dangers and difficulties by land and sea Augustine landed at last on the shores of Richborough in the Isle of Thanet. On this spot he met King Ethelbert, and preached his first sermon to our own countrymen. Thus he happily planted the Christian faith, which spread with marvellous speed throughout the whole of England. That the memory of these events may be preserved among the English G G L-G Earl Granville, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports has erected this monument, AD 1884"

Image courtesy of ©Shirokazan (Flickr)

Where to Stay?

There are many wonderful places to stay in this beautiful area to tie in with the rich history that this area has to offer such as Bleak House in Broadstairs where Charles Dickens himself used to stay all those years ago, or how about the beautiful Victorian building that is now the Comfort Inn at Ramsgate? Then there is the Georgian Grade II listed Royal Harbour Hotel, a delightfully quirky 19 bedroom townhouse with magnificent views of the harbour and sea. Or why not take a break from all the culture and history by staying in the wonderful holiday lets provided by Beeches Holiday Lets? These wonderful and functional self-catering houses come in a range of sizes and are “homes away from home” with all the comforts you could ever need. There is a wide variety available across the areas of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

So as you can see, there are many wonderful places to explore a wealth of rich English History in Kent that is fascinating for the young and old alike. You can walk in the same footsteps as many important figures from our past and visit the places that inspired many historical greats. Why not take the children and give them a history lesson they won’t forget?

Categories: Charles Dickens | Curious Margate | Education | Entertainment | History | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Manston | Margate

Lounge on the Farm shows it's not about Dylan, Prince and the Eagles

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Saturday, July 27 2013


Organisers of this year's Lounge on the Farm promised the festival would return to its roots as a small, family-orientated event.

That is a nice spin to put on things when lots of people were disappointed at this year's line up, compared to last year's stellar acts.

Seasick Steve, Jessie Ware and Soul II Soul don't quite measure up to Emeli Sande, the Wombats and the Charlatans.

The supporting acts of Aswad, Scratch Perverts and Willy Moon are not in the same league either, compared with Chic with Nile Rogers, Mystery Jets and Goldie in 2012.

Despite this it seems festival-goers are happy to go along with the "family-orientated" line, asserting that small is beautiful and that they wouldn't want their festival to change at all.

Most are in agreement that Merton Farm has kept its intimate flavour.

Max Lamdin, 15, of Ashford Road, Thanington, said: "It’s more like a social gathering than people being here for the music.

"Even though the line up is not as good this time, the atmosphere is still amazing."

Georgina Gothard, 23, of Vine Close, Ramsgate, said: "I like Lounge because it is a lot smaller.

"Last year there were a lot of good bands on and you can get a lot closer and see them. When it is a big festival you are quite far away.

"A lot of it is family orientated as well. It’s just chilled out."

Ryan Tully-Fleming, 20, of Connaught Road, Folkestone, added: "There’s a pure love for everyone. You get people from everywhere talking to each other.

"It is a small festival which is the beauty of it. More local people come here. It is like when Glastonbury started."

Emily Clarke, 18, of St Thomas Hill, Canterbury, said: "Lounge on the Farm is local and not too expensive.

"Because it’s local, your friends can come with you and it is not too far to travel."

Perhaps this could be a lesson to the Hop Farm Music Festival, which was cancelled this year after reportedly suffering huge financial losses in 2012.

It's not about getting your Dylan's, Prince's and Eagles to headline.

It's about creating the right atmosphere and making sure that you build a core base of fans who feel ownership of the event.

That is why Lounge has still got it spot on this year.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | music | Showbiz

Huts on pier could be the start of something big for sleeping seaside town

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, July 4 2013

The opening of the beach hut village in Herne Bay will be a big moment for the seaside town.

It could mark the beginning of a shift in fortunes when the ribbon is cut by Sandi Toksvig, much-loved back in the day as a captain on Call My Bluff with the late Kent broadcaster Bob Holness.

It will be the first step in regenerating a town which has suffered a series of false starts.

Sometimes, it’s seemed like Herne Bay will never get a break. Independent shops continue to struggle in a tough economy; Pressure groups argue over the future of the pier; Morrisons pulled the plug on a lucrative bigger store in the town centre.

This week, the Gazette revealed how the mini-golf course will not go-ahead on the pier platform until next year at the earliest, prompting a wave of eye-rolling from those who say nothing changes in Herne Bay.

Yet the first shoots of a new start are appearing.

Lottery money for renovating the clock tower looks to be on the way and independent businesses will host a showcase of their wares on Saturday, July 13.

And the pier will come to life again with the beach hut village.

So turn up for the launch this weekend. You could be in at the start of something big.

Categories: Economy | Entertainment | Tourism

East Kent's failed bid - were we not confident enough in what we've got?

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, June 19 2013

It was never going to happen.

East Kent’s bid to become the UK’s city of culture in 2017 was as likely as Dover Athletic becoming Roman Abramovich's next project to squander his millions.

Why the negative attitude? Well for the same reason you had a negative attitude. East Kent is not a place.

Imagine for a moment you heard that north Scotland or west Cornwall or south east Norfolk were making a bid. You would scoff.

“That is not even a place” you would say. Have Inverness, Plymouth and Norwich not got enough to offer on their own? Are they are so culturally lacking that they need to invite their smaller, provincial buddies in to the party because they are too scared to step onto the dancefloor of the artistically-enriched on their tod.

That is how your average Joe anywhere else in the country would have viewed East Kent’s bid.

It just sounds daft and is somewhat detrimental, surely, to Kent’s only official city, Canterbury. Why are its quirky streets, fascinating museums, glorious Marlowe Theatre and traditional pubs not deemed suitably cultural to impress the judges at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport?

At least then, the decision-makers would have been able to identify with the ‘city’ they were supposed to be assessing. And would it not have been ok anyway to shoehorn in a mention of Margate’s Turner Contemporary, Folkestone’s Triennial art installations and Whitstable’s oysters, as was surely the aim of lumping together a series of towns which, on the whole, are not really that bothered about each other.

Of course, credit where it is due to Kent County Council for being ambitious enough to put together a bid which, ultimately, did make the longlist.

But are Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay really all that superior culturally to the towns and cities we are already proud of in the county?

Perhaps next time, we should go with what we know and resist trying to reinvent the wheel.

Categories: Business | Economy | Entertainment | Leisure


by Dan Millen Reviews Sunday, May 26 2013

So I went to see The Hangover: Part III today with mixed expectations. The first one broke new ground in the movie arena, bringing a fresh concept to a party style movie with the twist of what happens when the sun comes up the next today. I laughed so much that when the second part was announced, I found myself itching to get in the cinema to watch it. (That was 6 months before its release!) Unfortunately, aside from the hilarious scene in a Bangkok Strip Club, I felt that Todd Phillips and the gang were just reproducing the first outing in a different location. The fans wanted more.

And boy oh boy, in Part III, Todd Philips has shown why he had to make the trilogy and answer his critics (myself included) following the second outing.

First thing you need to know is there is no-one getting married, hence no stag do (batchelor party), no mayhem… yeah right!

The film opens in Thailand where Mr Chow escapes his prison cell, worthy of Andy Dufresne might I add, during a riot. A chase through the sewers leads him to jump from a cliff edge, plunging into the Gulf of Thailand.

Alan has not changed since we left him. He is still immature, brainless and damn right funny. His parents are sick of him because he is a constant disappointment, and when it all becomes too much for his father (quite emotional but funny at the same time), it’s decided by his mom, sister and the Wolf Pack that he needs to go to Arizona Institution for an ‘intervention’.

ROAD TRIP! Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan hit the open road but are quickly side tracked, and rammed off the road, by Marshall, a gangster trying to track down 40 odd million dollars’ worth of gold bullion from Mr Chow. We then find out that subtle little hints have been dropped into the previous two movies to build up to this moment.

Always given the short straw, Doug is held hostage until the three amigos can track down Mr Chow, retrieve the gold and return it to Marshall before the sunrises 3 days later.

Cue the ‘hangover’. What follows is pure genius, with a bit of long windiness to prolong the Wolf Pack’s agony. I don’t want to give too much more away but you’ll be treated to a trip to Tijuana, old faces reappearing, seductive lollipop sucking in a pawn shop, abseiling down Caesar’s Palace and finally the finale just outside of Vegas. Oh, and a happy ending too.

All in all, enough to make you feel as though you’re the one with a hangover.

I am pleased to say that this movie is a good one to see, but do take it with a pinch of salt because after all, it is a comedy and therefore, not meant to be judged on anything more than whether it can make you laugh or not.

Salt or Sweet? Definitely Sweet.  

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Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Film | General | Humour | Just Life | Leisure | Media | People of Kent

3,000 homes? Give us more Peter!

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, May 16 2013

The KM Group brings the people of Kent important news about housing developments, council decisions, murders and schooling issues.

Yet when Peter Andre arrives, our website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts go into meltdown.

Is it not a sad indictment of our society that readers are most engaged with their local media when they are on the hunt for a minor celebrity?

Last week's Herne Bay Gazette included five pages of coverage of the draft Local Plan, to a modest reception.

If approved it could mean nearly 3,000 houses are built around the town. It received a respectable 23 comments on the Gazette Facebook page in its first day, although after a week it had not been shared once.

In less than 24 hours, the Gazette’s story on Peter Andre had been shared 82 times.

That is not to mention the countless photos and videos posted, depicting a tiny figure in the distance or an orange blur sweeping past rain-soaked fans.

As scores of people gathered to try and catch a glimpse of the reality TV ‘star’, no one questioned whether it was worth all this fuss for a bloke whose biggest – and only – hit single came out in 1995.

For heaven’s sake, he stayed at the Premier Inn. Some perspective, please.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

Finally, a decent act announcement

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Friday, April 12 2013

As news broke that double Brit Award-nominee Jessie Ware is set to headline Lounge on the Farm, a collective sigh of relief was heard.

The prospect of Seasick Steve and Soul II Soul being the biggest two acts to play Merton Farm, Canterbury, this summer was a bitter pill to swallow after last year’s star turn of Emeli Sande, the Wombats, Chic and the Dexys.

That feeling was compounded by the news that this year’s Hop Farm Festival would go ahead (hooray!) but in a much smaller form than the past two years (boo!)

It is a wonder there will be any Hop Farm at all after the financial troubles suffered by festival guru Vince Power and the site itself going into liquidation earlier this year.

It only opened over the Easter holidays after a last-minute sale of its troubled operator. The two-day festival will be headlined My Bloody Valentine and Rodriguez. Snore.

So the expectations for Lounge were high, as it looked set to claim the crown of Kent’s biggest music festival.

And after apparently scoring an own goal with its first, lukewarm announcement, there is optimism once again at the addition of Jessie Ware, Willy Moon, Man Like Me, Scratch Perverts, Tribes and many more.

Do not be surprised if there is one more big announcment to come from the Canterbury event, taking place from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, July 28. 

If Lounge still does not impress and you crave pure, unadulterated pop, then you have been served a treat at the Sound Island Festival.

Jessie J, Rita Ora, James Arthur, Lawson and Union J will all perform at Quex Park, Birchington, on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.

And for those who like their chart hits with jagged edges, topping the bill is Ill Manors rapper Plan B.

Although, with this line up, he will surely focus on his Strickland Banks soul music exploits than his gritty, south London material.

Categories: Business | Celebrities | Entertainment | music | Showbiz

Small talk!

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Saturday, March 2 2013

So I was sitting discussing with my colleague (JS) various different topics when we stumbled across old films we used to watch as children. There is not a significant age gap between us, only 5 years, but our choices in favourite films does differ quite considerably.

Once we had finished listing our favourite films, JS touched on the main actor in one of her films (The Indian in the Cupboard) and how she used to have a crush on him when she was 3 years old! I was more shocked at the age of her first crush then the fact she had a crush on Henri from the film.

After controlling my laughter, JS added fuel to the fire by declaring two further crushes: the first, Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone and the second, Buzz McCallister from Home Alone. This send me into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, some of the others joined me. JS literally smiled and joined in with us.

The dreaded question fell on me when on of the girls asked me who I had a crush on when I was younger? I could honestly say I went blank and could not think of a single crush at such a young age.

So now I've had time to think about it, I think it only fair I declare my crushes from childhood films:

1. Allie from The Karate Kid Part I (She also appeared in Back to the Future)

2. Andy from The Goonies

3. Jessica from The Karate Kid Part III

So there you have it, my three choice.

Keep reading and I'll keep you posted on my life as The Odd One Out.

Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Family Life | Film | Leisure | Moaning | Moans and groans | Work

Inbetweeners reunite for film screening in Gravesend

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 28 2013

The cast of the Inbetweeners gave an ironic thumbs up when they were asked what they thought of Gravesend, as they attended a screening of the movie at the town’s Woodville theatre.

“I love Griggs bakery, which is surely just a copy of Greggs” joked a bearded Simon Bird, known to fans as Will McKenzie, at the event promoting the new cinema at the venue.

A near sell-out crowd sat for an hour as actors Simon, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and co-creator and writer Damon Beesley answered audience questions on Friday.

They posed for photos and signed various items of memorabilia from the show, which were auctioned to raise money for new seats at the theatre.

A signed poster of the Inbetweeners Movie – the highest grossing British comedy film – was bought for £200, while t-shirts and a jumper worn in the film and series sold for more than £100.

The four stars agreed to attend the screening as a favour to writer Damon, who grew up in New Barn and went to Longfield Upper School.

The audience laughed as Damon confirmed, unfazed, that the Woodville itself was the real-life setting for one particularly hands-on scene in the series, involving character Simon and a young girl at a school disco.

Damon himself agreed to attend thanks to a childhood friend who works at Gravesham Borough Council, who asked him to come along.

The Q&A got off to a spluttering start, as a couple of the mics did not work and the panel were flummuxed with some bizarre questions.

Damon, 41, confirmed there would be no more series but hinted a few ideas were being floated around between himself and co-writer Iain Morris about making a second film.

Just as the cast warmed up, the Q&A came to a close, almost too soon, with the film screened shortly after to roaring laughter from fans.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Gravesham | Showbiz | TV

Put a sock on it

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, January 23 2013

The greatest pleasure of interviewing Inbetweeners co-creator and writer Damon Beesley was finding out that the stuff viewers didn’t see on camera was just as funny as what made it onto TV in the Bafta-winning show.

Ahead of talking to fans at a Q&A and screening of the Inbetweeners Movie, Damon revealed his sense of humour was still equally as juvenile as that of Will, Simon, Jay and Neil.

As well as his own adolescent experiences, the 41-year-old, who grew up in New Barn, near Gravesend, revealed his cast were such good sports that he could use their moments of embarrassment for comic scenes.

“Over the course of three series we have managed to get all four of them partially naked,” he said with glee, pictured below, right, with co-creator and writer Iain Morris.

“We have seen all their bottoms, which Iain and I are very proud of.

“Joe [Thomas, who plays Simon] gets the brunt because he is most pliable. There are a lot more rude bits just for Simon because Joe is just so up for it.

“When we were filming on the boat for the field trip episode and Joe had to stand naked, there was a quite a lot of concern for him because it was freezing cold in January.

“In the scene, he falls into the water and they have to take all his clothes off because he is going to get hypothermia and at one point he stands up naked, to wave back at the land.

“We asked costume to give him some coverage to go over his front parts, to save his embarrassment, but what wardobe didn’t tell us was that instead of putting a box on, for some reason they put a sock over his bits and it looked mental.

“As James Buckely [Jay] pointed out, they may as well have covered him with a condom because it was so tight. It wasn’t saving anyone from any embarrassment at all.

“We all fell about laughing and because it was so funny, during the edit we wrote in a few lines to the script that Neil [played by Blake Harrison] had put a sock over his parts – why would you do that?

“But it was brilliant and it made a good joke.”

As all four stars arrive with Damon at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls for the Q&A and screening – which is drumming up support for the new cinema which launched at the theatre this month – many will wonder what other behind-the-scenes gems will be unveiled.

The Inbetweeners Movie is shown on Friday, January 25, at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls with a pre-screening Q&A with writer Damon Beesley and the four stars. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Showbiz | TV

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