Spotlight on Deal – a Kentish coastal gem

PUBLISHED: 23:11 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 20 February 2013

Spotlight on Deal – a Kentish coastal gem

Spotlight on Deal – a Kentish coastal gem

Full of history and mystery, with its quaint old houses, narrow winding streets and a seafront alive with sparkling white Georgian terraces, Deal has plenty to entrance the weekend visitor

Spotlight on Deal a Kentish coastal gem

Full of history and mystery, with its quaint old houses, narrow winding streets and a seafront alive with sparkling white Georgian terraces, Deal has plenty to entrance the weekend visitor

Deals beach came first in The Telegraphs 10 top spots to lay your beach towel, its pier was voted pier of the year in 2008 and France is so close that on a clear day you can see the Gallic coast.

There are all the key shops youre likely to need in the towns High Street, yet the majority of retailers are the old-fashioned, individual kind, with an abundance of antique and specialist shops. Crucially its a very friendly town that truly lives up to its motto Adjuvate Advenas, meaning Befriend the stranger.

Around town

There are plenty of car parks, the centre of Deal is small enough to cover in an hour and there are no appreciable hills. Start your walk on the seafront on Prince of Wales Terrace, in front of the Timeball Museum. Walk to the left and after the Georgian terraces youll come to Beach Street, set back from the rest, with an attractive central area for al fresco eating. On the left of this block of buildings is the Kings Head pub (01304 368194), while on the right hand side is Dunkerleys restaurant and hotel (01304 375016). Now is the time to cross the road and investigate the pier.

Follow the road beside Dunkerleys (Broad Street) and in front of you is an interesting old-fashioned shop with a red frontage: Sugar Boy Sweetshop. Turn to your left into Middle Street and enjoy the vista of this narrow winding road with small redbrick houses on the left and on the right mostly stuccoed homes, with pargetting; along here is a beautiful mansion set back from the road in its own grounds: Queen Anne house.

Return to the sweet shop and cross to the road directly opposite Middle Street. Soon you come to the large car park, built on the central section of Middle Street that was bombed during the Second World War. From now on, all roads to your right lead to Beach Street.

Follow the narrow exit that leads out of the car park, then cross the road at the end (King Street) and you come to the remainder of Middle Street. Go along here and notice Contraband Cottage, which gives a clue to the livelihoods of previous residents! Number 73 is where Admiral Nelsons friend Captain Parker lived and died. At number 177 theres a blue plaque on a corner house commemorating the occupation of actor Charles Hawtrey.

Turn left at the termination of Middle Street into Alfred Square and at the end of this youll find The Saracens Head pub (01304 381 650). Turn left onto the High Street and continue along until you come to the Tourist Information Office, within the large Landmark Centre and incorporating a caf in what used to be a church. Soon youll come to grand St Georges Church on the right. Next is the pedestrianised part of the High Street, with the bigger shops, ending with Queen Street on your right. Finally you arrive at South Street on the left. On you right is King's Coffee Shop at 1 High Street (01304-364277), which we can recommend as an excellent place to stop for a break.

Now youre in Victoria Road, with grand 17th and 18th-century houses set back from the road on the right. Cross the highway and turn left to Sondes Street, which leads back to where you started. Deal Castle is a short walk away to your right, and well worth visiting.

Major attractions

Deal Pier (01304 363815) named pier of the year 2008, extensively repaired and renovated in 1997 and now the last remaining fully intact pier in Kent. With a caf, bar, lounge, fishing decks and a new restaurant.

  • Visitor Information Centre (01304 369576), within the Landmark Centre building.

  • St Georges church magnificent building where Lord Nelson regularly worshipped.

  • Deal Memorial Bandstand Sunday afternoon concerts throughout the summer.

  • Deal Castle (01304 372762) Amazing battlements, passages that lead through the bastions and interactive exhibition of the castle's history.

  • Timeball Tower and museum (01304 360897) Four floors packed with historical clocks, navigational instruments and interactive displays.

  • Deal Maritime and Local History Museum (01304 381344) Displays of local and maritime history of Deal and Walmer, plus smugglers galleys and naval ships.

  • Tides Leisure Pool and Indoor Sports Centre (01304 373399) Leisure pool, fun water features and giant slide and toddler pool, sports hall, caf.

  • Every Wednesday theres a Farmers Market at the town hall, and also a Saturday market at Union Road car park.


  • Walmer Castle and Gardens (01304 364288) Magnificent castle, official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, including the Queen Mothers garden, wild gardens and woodland.

  • Dover Castle (01304 211067) built deep into the white cliffs. See secret tunnels, superb views and wartime plotting rooms and telecommunications centres and interactive displays of medieval Great Tower representations.

  • Fowlmead Country Park (01304 615390) Originally the site of Bettesehanger colliery, now a preserve for wildlife and archaeology. Fossil collecting site, ornithologists observatory, wildlife, leisure cycling, adventure racing orienteering etc.

  • The White Cliffs (01304 202756) Much of this area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with rare flora and fauna, visitors centre and guided walks.

  • South Foreland Lighthouse (01304 852463) View from the balcony gives a panorama of East Kent guided tour only.

  • White Mill Rural Heritage Centre (01304 612076) 1760-built restored smockmill, millers cottage, granary with tools, museum and shop.

  • The Pines Garden, visitors centre and museum (01304 851737) organic garden offering open space, trees, shrubs, lake and beautiful views.


Julius Caesar's troops ran up the beach at nearby Walmer, and Deal muddled along as a small fishing village in the 1200s, until it became one of Englands premier ports a few centuries later. The reason for Deals prosperity in the Age of Sail was The Downs, a stretch of water beside Deals coastline that provided perfect shelter for ships awaiting favourable winds; ironically, The Goodwin Sands, a treacherous stretch of sea that wrecked many ships, was just beyond the Downs.

Henry V111 built defensive castles at Dover, Deal and Sandown. Acquiring its own Royal Charter in 1699, by the time of its heyday in the Napoleonic wars it was very much a garrison town, and there was a highly successful naval yard (Victoria Town).

But in the 19th century, steam-powered shipping spelt Deals decline, and the naval yard closed. In an effort to court tourism, Beach Street houses were demolished to make way for promenades, villas were built on the defunct naval yard and the first pier was constructed. The troops returned during the Boer War and the First World War, then there was an expansion in Kents coal mining in the 1920s, and five collieries in the area were opened, but by 1989 all were closed. The Royal Marines School of Music moved to Deal in 1930, but left in 1996.

Did you know?

  • The Rattling Cat inn, in Walmer, is said to be so-named because the owner kept many cats with pieces of bone attached to their collars, so as to give warning when strangers (excise men) were in the area

  • Smugglers hiding places were so ingenious that they are still being discovered today, especially in Middle Street, the centre of Deals excise-avoiding activities

  • Under the town there are warrens of smugglers tunnels, often leading to local churches

  • The Duke of Wellington lived and died at Walmer Castle

  • Jane Austen refers to balls held at the Assembly Rooms on the corner of Duke Street

  • Admiral Nelson caused outrage when he lived openly with Lady Hamilton in the Royal Hotel, Beach Street

  • Wrecks of sunken ships frequently appear and disappear as the treacherous Goodwin Sands change shape underwater

  • The iron ball on the roof of the Timeball Tower used to drop at precisely one oclock each day, so that ships in the Downs could synchronise their chronometers

  • Walmer Castle is the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Past incumbents have included the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother

  • Julius Caesars fleet invaded Britain on the beach near Deal (Walmer), in 55 BC

  • William Cobbett said: Deal is a most villainous place. It is full of filthy-looking people

  • Charles Hawtrey , the actor famous for Carry on films, lived in Middle Street

  • The coast of France is visible on clear days

Considering a move?

Houses are less costly than much of the rest of the south east, and a one-bedroomed flat is around 99,000, a two-bedrooomed flat 150,000, a two-bedroomed house in the region of 167,500, while a three-bedroomed house could be yours for around 193,400 and a four-bedroomed house costs upwards of 319,000.

Getting there

Deal station has a regular service to London and there are local buses and National Express coaches: contact Traveline 0871 200 2233 for details. Sandwich is 4.4 miles away, Dover 7.62 miles and Ramsgate 7.66. The simplest approach by road from London is to go to Dover, linked to London and the M25 via the M20, then take the A258 north, or alternatively travel via Canterbury and Sandwich and the M2.

Satnav postcode for the town centre: CT14 6BB.


Willie Cooper, membership secretary and marketing officer, Deal Festival of Music and the Arts (2-17 July)

Tell us about this years festival

Were involving ourselves with two local places: the Salutation Gardens in Sandwich and Pines Calyx at St Margarets Bay (where therell be performances of The Merry Wives of Windsor by the Changeling Theatre Company. On 11 July, were hosting a Champagne reception at The Bell Hotel, Sandwich, with music provided by Sarah Hale (soprano) and Alex Rider (harp), followed by a private tour of the Salutation Gardens, accompanied by music from the Pfizer Wind orchestra.

What else does the festival offer?

We do a huge amount of education work with the local community, and also do outreach work, inviting people, such as theatre groups, to come and perform during the festival.

Does anything ever go wrong?

A few years ago we booked the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (regular supporters who are coming this year), and got a phone call from them saying theyd got their drum stuck in a lift! We had to go rushing around the countryside trying to find a big bass drum for them, eventually finding one in Christchurch.

How would you improve the town?

It would be nice to see the high-speed rains coming here, because at present public transport is not great. Were lobbying for it, so theres some hope.

Your favourite place in town?

The Royal Hotel. Those of us organising the festival have worked with them for years, theyre very kind to us, happy to arrange rooms for meetings and so on. I feel very much at home there, its a nice place to go for a meal, or to stay.

What do you like about Deal?

Its a wonderful place and I suppose you could call it quirky. Lovely shops and restaurants and a beautiful seafront, and really nice people. Its a little oasis with so many wonderful things nearby. Youve got St Margaret's Bay, Pine Gardens and Walmer Castle, and you can walk miles along the seafront. I love the town.

Deal Festival of Music and the Arts

The annual event began in 1982 and has grown year on year. Highlights of 2010s festival will include the European Union Chamber Orchestra, with a programme to include Vivaldis The Four Seasons, plus Sir Andrew Motion reading sonnets, Clive James, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the City of London Sinfonia performing two concerts.

In addition to concerts, including jazz and folk in various different venues, there are also world music events, dance, poetry and drama, including open-air performances of The Merry Wives of Windsor, plus the Young performers Platform, talks and walks.

For tickets available, 01304 381134.

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