Holiday

The Beauty of Ramsgate and Margate

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Friday, October 18 2013

Ramsgate and Margate

Ramsgate and Margate are both seaside towns that are situated on the south east coast of England in the county of Kent. It takes just over one hour forty minutes to arrive at both towns from London, approximately eighty miles in distance. Both towns are situated in idyllic locations on the beautiful coastline, making them a great escape for the city dwellers. Both Ramsgate and Margate are easily accessible via road and rail.

Image courtesy of ©Marcus T Ward (Flickr)

Ramsgate

The main attraction of Ramsgate would have to be its beautiful coastline which attracts many tourists year after year. Ramsgate Main Sands is a particularly popular location. In having a close connection to Northern Europe, Ramsgate has appeared to have developed a continental style culture, an example of which can be seen with its restaurants and bars that are situated along the sea front.

The port and harbour  situated in Ramsgate are certainly both defining characteristics of the town and have their own history attached, for example, when the people of Ramsgate gave King George IV such a loyal welcome in 1821, he gave Ramsgate Harbour the unique title of “The Royal Harbour”. Not only that, it was one of the main embarkation harbours during the Napoleonic wars. This harbour was also where many thousands of soldiers disembarked after escaping from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo; one of the boats, Sundowner, used in the evacuation is kept in the marina today. More information about the phenomenal history as well as more recent news of the Dunkirk Little Ships can be found here.

Image courtesy of ©Nick Traveller (Flickr)

Ramsgate is also famous for its two white chalk cliffs, simply named The East Cliff and The West Cliff. These are both mainly residential areas but there are parks at either end and promenades run between the two. There are various cliff top walks as well as sandy beaches below that attract many thousands of tourists and locals alike.

Along with the stunning coastline of Ramsgate, with its clear, clean and tranquil beaches, the market of Ramsgate is another must see. It is held every Friday and Saturday between the hours of 8.00am and 4.00pm, on the High street, King Street and also on Queen Street.

There are also a few landmarks situated in Ramsgate such as the Hugin in Pegwell Bay. This is a reconstructed Viking long-ship which is a replica of the Gokstad Ship. The Hugin was built in Denmark and sailed to England by 53 Danes as a donation from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the arrival on Hengist and Horsa to the country in 449. It landed at Viking Bay in nearby Broadstairs in 1949 before being moved to its current location at Pegwell Bay in Ramsgate.

Image courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)

There are also a few galleries based in Ramsgate such as the Isle Of Thanet Arts gallery, which is based on the harbour front and the Updown Gallery based in the beautiful Victorian era Satis House. There is also the Ramsgate Maritime Museum, which is near the harbour quayside.

The architecture of Ramsgate is simply stunning, most of which is generally a mix from the Regency and Victorian architectural periods and including 900 listed buildings in the town with more than 200 surrounding the marina itself so even the buildings themselves deserve attention.

Margate

Margate is a small seaside town situated in the district of Thanet in East Kent. Margate is a famous, traditional seaside resort which is a popular holiday destination typically for Londoners wishing to find peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city on the sandy beaches, such as Margate Sands.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

Margate, along with its fantastic nine miles of lovely sandy beaches, is probably most famous for its links with the painter JMW Turner, who created some of his world wide acclaimed art work using the scenery of Margate and is the namesake of The Turner Prize. The world class Turner Contemporary is the focus here in Margate. It brilliantly houses both historical as well as very modern work and showcases many pieces by JMW Turner who was famously inspired by the fabulous scenery and seascapes that Margate has to offer.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

In addition to its beautiful, stunning coastline, Margate has many other attractions for holiday makers. There are two highly acclaimed theatres in Margate. One of which, the Theatre Royal in Addington Street is the second oldest theatre in the country and the other, the Tom Thumb Theatre is the second smallest theatre in the country. If you are visiting Margate in July, the annual Jazz festival is highly recommended as a must go-to event, more details of which can be found on their Facebook page here.

Like Ramsgate, Margate also has a museum. The Margate Museum represents the town's historical past with a huge range of displays and exhibits.

Another must see attraction of Margate is that of the Shell Grotto. This “building” of unknown age and origin was first discovered in 1835 and the walls and roof are covered in an amazing decoration of well over four million shells, which cover the whole 2000 square footage. The shells have also been placed in elaborate patterns.

Image courtesy of ©Mr Moss (Flickr)

Margate also has many interesting cultural, popular and literary references. It features as a setting in many novels, including Graham Swift's novel 'Last Orders', T. S. Eliot referenced Margate in one of his poems and Margate also featured quite predominately in an episode of British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Where to Stay

Well it depends what you are looking for in terms of accommodation. If you are looking for a B&B, Margate has the wonderful and welcoming Hopewell House. Bob and Sandy are extremely friendly and Bob has an extensive knowledge about the history of Margate and Kent in general. If you are looking for a B&B in Ramsgate then look no further than the Glendevon Guest House. Charles and Rebekah have owned this brilliant establishment since October 2006 and are doing an amazing job (just take a look at all the wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor). Charles does a full English breakfast that is not to be missed and Rebekah has a huge knowledge of Ramsgate so can give you more pointers on places to visit during your stay.

Or maybe you would like a hotel instead? Then try the Pegwell Bay Hotel in Ramsgate which is beautiful to look at from the outside and a joy to stay in. If you are in Margate then I suggest The Hussar Hotel which has swings and slides in the garden, this can be helpful if you are travelling with children.

I have to say though, speaking as a travelling Mum, my personal favourite accommodation option is a holiday let. My kids go through fussy stages (like most do) so I love the option of self-catering and cooking food for my family from scratch (to sneak those vegetables in). With this option, there isn’t the worry about noise from other guests and I don’t have to share a bedroom with my kids either, as much as I love them dearly, my daughter talks in her sleep and my son snores so there is NEVER the option of me getting a good night’s sleep when sharing a bedroom with them! Beeches Holiday Lets provide some wonderful, reasonably-priced houses with modern amenities, a full kitchen (as opposed to a microwave and a kettle like some places I have stayed in) and some have lovely gardens that are enclosed so I feel safe in letting my children play outside. They have houses in both Margate and Ramsgate as well as Broadstairs so can be an option regardless of which part of Thanet you are staying in.

Are They Worth a Visit?

Yes, both Margate and Ramsgate are worth a visit whether you are a Kent local or from further afield. As stated above, both are amazing traditional seaside towns which ooze holiday-town charm; with traditional promenades and seaside amenities, a variety of museums to view, as well as land marks to see and theatres to visit.

There is definitely something for everyone in Margate and Ramsgate, with or without children.

Tags:
Categories: Curious Margate | General | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Margate | Museums | Tourism | travel

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.

Margate

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)

Ramsgate

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)

Broadstairs

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)

Birchington-on-Sea

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.

Manston

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.

Minster

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?

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

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