St Margaret's at Cliffe
PUBLISHED: 19:51 05 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:18 20 February 2013
Dame Vera Lynne's wartime anthem made the coastline around St Margaret's-at-Cliffe into a national icon, with South Foreland Lighthouse at its apex the first place in Britain to catch 'the first light of day
St Margarets at Cliffe
Dame Vera Lynnes wartime anthem made the coastline around St Margarets-at-Cliffe into a national icon, with South Foreland Lighthouse at its apex the first place in Britain to catch the first light of day
St Margarets at Cliffe is a quiet village three miles inland characterised by a mixture of flintstone and plain white-painted buildings, a post office, and a village stores that sells virtually everything. Theres also a beautiful old church, some fine pubs and award-winning hotel/restaurants.
Its sister settlement, St Margarets Bay, is on the coast, the point where Channel swimmers and submarine cables begin, because its closer to France than anywhere else. Variously known as White Cliffs Country or First Light Coast and Country, the area is part of the Kent Downs AONB, famous for chalk escarpments, secluded dry valleys, networks of tiny lanes, historic hedgerows, ancient woodlands and stupendous wildlife and flora and fauna.
- South Foreland Lighthouse (01304 852643): Victorian lighthouse on the white cliffs, the site of Marconis wireless experiments and once illuminated by Faradays first electric lamps. Splendid views across the Channel, childrens events in school holidays and guided walks throughout year. No approach road for cars and limited disabled access.
- St Margaret's Church of Antioch: 12th-century church with interesting rounded doorways and arches.
- The Pines Garden: museum, conference and events venue (01304 851737) comprised of six acres of organically managed gardens, with a cascade and rock garden, kitchen gardens, labyrinth, tea room and museum, featuring changing displays on environmental themes and local history. Sense-ability garden and a Sustainability Trail for children.
- Dover Patrol Memorial is at the highest point on the cliffs above the Bay, a tribute to commemorate the Dover Patrol, who kept the English Channel open for British troops and supplies during both world wars. Bluebird Tea Rooms.
- Walmer Castle (01304 364288): Tudor castle surrounded by gardens with panoramic sea views. Official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports.
The White Cliffs
The White Cliffs (Langdon Cliffs): famed as a fantastic natural feature and recognised as one of Britains most spectacular landmarks and icons, even before Dame Vera Lynns famous wartime song. Clifftop walks here give you unrivalled views of the Channel and, on a clear day, you can see the French coast. White Cliffs Country park and viewpoint overlooks the Dover Continental ferry port, and has a convenient car park. Gateway to the White Cliffs Visitor Centre (01304 202756) has information on the history and flora and fauna particular to this grassland-on-chalk region. Self-guided walks, Tracker Packs, events, guided walks plus a gift/souvenir shop and caf.
â— Coast Along St Margarets Bay coastline you can find rockpools, caves and fossils, where there are winkles, crabs and starfish; theres also beach fishing, where you can land sea bass, mackerel, dogfish and sole.
â— Beaches There are two fine beaches from where you can swim: St Margarets Bay, with a sand and pebble mix, which is renowned for kite flying, surfing, kayaking and canoeing, and secondly Kingsdown (pebbled) beach, which enjoys tremendous morning daylight. Beach creatures you might spot include seals, guillemots, Great Crested Grebes, Little Egrets, sometimes even dolphins and sharks.
â— Walks Try the National Trust Coastal Walk, the circular Frontline Britain Trail, and the White Cliffs Walk a seven-mile hike from Deal Castle up steps to the cliff path and following the coast along the white cliffs to St Margarets Bay.
â— Horse riding The many bridleways and tracks make the area perfect for horse riding: contact The Owl House Stables (01304 852035) or Braeside Equestrian Centre (01304 852959).
â— Clay pigeon shooting Organised by Kelly Country Sports (07714560853).
â— Fitness Gym and Swimming pool at The Oxide Fitness Studio at Walletts Court Country House Hotel (see below) and also at St Margarets Holiday Park.
â— Golf Thriving local golf clubs are Royal Cinque Ports (01304 374007) and Walmer and Kingsdown Golf Club (01304 373256).
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
The White Cliffs Hotel and The Bay Restaurant (01304 852229) (one AA rosette) offers excellent locally sourced foods, such as Romney Marsh lamb and Kentish asparagus. The Coastguard (01304 853176), on the beach at St Margarets Bay, has been awarded Best UK Dishes award and winner of the best UK cheeseboard. Walletts Court Country Hotel (01304 852424), with two AA rosettes, has a nationally commended restaurant, swimming pool and health club, while the excellent Dunkerleys Restaurant and Hotel (01304 375016), in nearby Deal, has been awarded two AA rosettes and VB Silver Award. Great pubs include The Smugglers (01304 853404), a classic, dark old smugglers bar (also a restaurant), and the Red Lion (01304 852467), all serving fine beers.
A suburb of Dover, the village itself has evidence of both Roman and Saxon settlements; 10th-century St Peters church has Saxon windows. There are several shops, The Archer pub, and the Ramada Dover Hotel. Home to the White Cliffs Business Park. Theres opposition to proposed development by the Whitfield Action Group, whove successfully reduced the number of new homes being built there.
A small settlement with The Chance Inn, a post office and a Saxon church plus a small number of houses, one of which is a converted windmill.
Coastal village adjoining Deal, -famous for its castle. Julius Caesar purportedly landed here on the beach in 55 BC, the actual spot marked by a concrete memorial. There are three churches: Old St Marys, St Saviours and St Marys.
Also on the coast, some parts of the village are on or behind the shingle beach, while other areas of Kingsdown are on the hills inland. The main road is Upper Street, a steep hill, with the post office, butchers shop, village hall and vicarage. St John the Evangelist church was built in 1848, and there are three pubs: The Kings Head, The Rising Sun and the Zetland Arms, which is on the beach.
Named after the mill built near the village of Martin. This operated until 1923, when the owner cut off its sails. The mill was demolished in the 1960s, and the villages main feature is its railway station. The nearby village of Martin has a splendid 16th-century country Inn, The Old Lantern Inn.
CONSIDERING A MOVE?
Very good schools in nearby Dover, reasonable transport links, yet all the advantages of rural tranquillity. Property prices are generally below those of the rest of the south east, with a one- and two-bedroom flats being in the region of 70,500 and 105,000 respectively, a three-bedroom semi approx. 171,000 and a four-bedroom house about 304,000.
St Margarets at Cliffe is on the east coast between Dover and Deal, about 70 miles from London and 17 miles from Canterbury. By road from London, follow the M20 leading off the M25, head for Dover, then take the A258 for Deal and follow signs for the village. Nearest stations are at Martin Mill (two miles) and Dover Priory (four miles), both with hourly services to London. Coaches to London from Dover and Deal and local buses to the village. Traveline, 0871 200 2233.
Satnav postcode: CT15 6AT.
Linda Fielding, membership communication system representative, St Margarets at Cliffe Womens Institute
Tell us about the WI?
We have a meeting every month, usually with a speaker, and we also have a darts team, go for walks, have groups for French conversation, sewing, canasta, swimming and three book groups. Were open to suggestions from anyone who has a new pursuit they want to try.
Is it a large group?
About 100 members, most of us from St Margarets, plus some from Dover and Walmer. I heard about it because both my neighbours belonged and asked me along, since when Ive been a regular that was 28 years ago!
Has the WI changed in recent years?
A lot of the newer groups have lots of young people, often set up in the workplace. However our institute here is more for people of retirement age.
What activities are there in the village?
There are a couple of football clubs, a cricket club, bowls, tennis and amateur dramatics. The large village hall stages local community events and am-dram productions.
What do you like about the village?
Its a really nice, friendly community with a lot going on.
Would you change anything?
We could do with catering for both young people starting out in life, as well as elderly people who want to live independently. Building developments are concentrating on expensive properties, tailored to neither of these groups, which I think is a real shame.
Your favourite walk?
Theres a lovely walk from here along towards Dover to the cliff, overlooking the docks. You can have coffee at the little caf there and come back, and go along the path on the cliffs. You can also walk the other way to Kingsdown along the coast, from there you can see as far as Ramsgate.
Your favourite pub or restaurant?
All the village pubs serve excellent food, but offer different types of cuisine, so it depends on what you fancy. The Smugglers does a very nice mixed menu, including Mexican food and pizza.
What would you say to a newcomer?
Come and join things, youll only get the best out of the village if you take part. Theres plenty of things to do, and its a really nice community, theres so much going on.