Deal Tourist Guide
Come and explore this wonderful Kentish town on the coast. Discover many interesting places to visit as part of your holiday in the Garden of England!
Hidden away on the A258 out of Dover past where the White Cliffs fall away into St Margaret's Bay, you'll find Deal the small town that huddles by the English Channel. Just 8 miles north-east of Dover and 23 miles from Folkestone the town is closely linked to the villages of Walmer and Kingsdown. Walmer is widely regarded as being the place where Julius Caesar first landed in Britain in 55BC. Deal became a ‘limb port’ of the Cinque Ports in 1278 and developed quickly as a seaport even though it had no harbour.
Its coastline is close to the Goodwin Sands and Deal’s------------------------7db35e28er and danger to shipping. Deal once had a naval shipyard – that building, having variously been used as a semaphore tower and a coastguard house, became a timeball tower (a Victorian Greenwich Mean Time signal located on the roof of the four-storey building) and now is a museum.
In 1702 Deal was described as one of the four great ports of England, along with Portsmouth, Rochester and Plymouth. Back then the town was a vital stronghold in the defences of what became known as 'the invasion coast'. Commanders, captains, admirals, masters, warrant officers, ratings and press gangs, have all passed through its warren of nooks and crannies at one time or another. The town's notorious reputation as a haven for the 'midnight trade' of smuggling, rife in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, has also played its part in creating Deal's rather unique and special character.
Today Deal is a peaceful town and an architectural jewel, with attractive narrow streets and fascinating buildings. Middle Street and its restored period houses and cottages were designated the first conservation area in Kent. The main shopping street, with many small specialist shops, is set back from the actual seafront. The beach is pebbly and is backed by a paved sea defence wall. Once the haunt of smugglers, you can now see small fishing boats hauled up along the front and their catches being sold from their backs. Walmer merges with Deal being linked by a continuous seafront path and period housing. Its green is sometimes used for visiting fairs and musicians frequent the bandstand. The Walmer Green-Deal Memorial Bandstand was erected in 1992 in remembrance of the bombing of Deal’s Royal Marines School of Music in 1989. Deal has always been closely linked with the Royal Marines whose first base was at nearby Chatham in 1755. Free music concerts are held during the summer – check with the Visitor Information Centre for details.
Deal is a favourite spot among sea fishing folk who make the most of the town's pier. The structure’s design is not particularly outstanding but it's pleasant on a sunny day to take a stroll along its deck, turn, and soak up the view of pretty houses that line the beachfront. Deal has had three piers in its history. The first was built in 1838 but the wooden structure was destroyed in a gale in 1857. The second was erected in 1864 and made of iron. It lasted until 1940 when it was struck by a torpedoed Dutch ship. The present pier was constructed in 1954 and stands 1026 feet long with a pierhead incorporating a café, bar, lounge and fishing decks. It has become a popular venue for sport fishing.
Before the days of radio and GPS many ships anchored in the channel have relied on this building for communication with the mainland. Built in 1796 during the Napoleonic Wars as a shutter telegraph this building became run down, however recently it has been restored to its working glory. It was rebuilt in 1820 to hold a semaphore to assist in the coastal blockade against smuggling. During 1855 the prominent black sphere was added. Still in working condition, the timeball signals the hour by raising the sphere then dropping on the hour. It continues to receive a telegraph signal from Greenwich London (GMT). The museum, situated in Prince of Wales Terrace, contains exhibits related to signalling and precision electrical timekeeping. Among other curios is an extremely rare Charles Shepherd electrical clock being one of only four known in existence and each was uniquely made. Other items on display include working examples of master clocks by Synchronome, Gents, English Clock Systems, ITR, Magneta and Brillie. For further details telephone 01304 360879 or visit www.dealtimeball.co.uk.
Opening times: Easter - Sept, 10:00-17:00 Weekends and Bank holidays. Admission: Adults £2.00; Children/OAP £1.00; Friends of Timeball Tower free.
As well as the Timeball Museum there are several others in the area – all linked to maritime history: Deal Castle Museum (+44(0)1304 364288) has displays about Henry VIII’s reign and subsequent history; Walmer Castle Museum (+44(0)1304 372762) deals with post-Tudor history; Deal Maritime and Local History Museum (+44(0) 1304 372679) tells the full historical story of this seaside town. From the trade to the local people who lived here, the historical roles of the famous Cinque Ports, the area’s Castle, lifeboats, Royal Marines, smugglers and the Goodwin Sands - all are brought to life by real and models of boats, local photos and marine artefacts.
Perhaps the activity the area is most known for internationally is golf. The Royal Cinque Ports is a first rank course and is within walking distance of the town, located along the Saxon shoreline. Perhaps the most famous of the area's courses is The Royal St George's, the home to the Open Championship on a number of occasions. The third course in the area is Prince's.
The Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
The club hosted The Open Championship in 1909 and 1920. The next two Opens scheduled to be held there, which were in 1938 and 1948 both had to be relocated when abnormally high tides inundated the course, and consequently the club was removed from the Open Championship rota. It has continued to host various other tournaments including The Amateur Championship and since 1925, it has hosted the Public Schools Championship every year. Karen Stupples, winner of the 2004 Weetabix Women's British Open, is a member of Royal Cinque Ports.
The Deal Summer Music Festival was founded in 1982 by the Swedish pianist Lennart Rabes, who had moved to Deal from London in 1978. He inaugurated the first festival himself with a piano recital containing several premières of contemporary Swedish works, and Evelyn Rothwell and Steven Isserlis gave oboe and cello masterclasses. In 1984, Lennart Rabes returned to Sweden and Roger Raphael took over as Artistic Director, to be succeeded by Steven Isserlis from 1985 to 1986 and Peter Evans from 1987 to 1988. Meanwhile the Festival had taken root and begun to grow and flourish.
When in 1985 David Matthews began to spend some of his life in a small house near the sea in the old part of Deal, he was struck by the town's resemblance to Aldeburgh, where in the late 1960s he had worked as an assistant to Benjamin Britten. So when in 1989 he was invited to become Artistic Director, his model for Deal was the Aldeburgh Festival as he had seen it in the last years before the opening of the Maltings transformed it into a much more ambitious event; and even more, his knowledge of how the Aldeburgh Festival had started, with chamber concerts by Britten's friends. It gave him much pleasure to be able to invite many of his own musician friends to give concerts in Deal to delight the steadily expanding audiences. After 10 years he stepped down to make way for another Musical Director, Paul Max Edlin.
Now re-named Deal Festival of Music and the Arts, for two weeks at the beginning of July the programme which, as always, is centred on chamber music, is now tightly packed with as wide a range of music as possible, including opera and street music. There are also festival club events, talks, art exhibitions and education projects. In recent years the festival has seen the programming of much 20th-century music - particularly music by living British composers, and performances by some of the best young performers to emerge from UK and European conservatoires. Young people from local schools participate in the festival’s work experience programme, while all school children and students are offered free tickets to most events.
The venues include the Town Hall and the Landmark Centre in the High Street, and local churches in Deal, Walmer and Sandwich – in particular the splendid 18th-century Deal Civic Church of St George. A major outreach event is the Dover Youth Arts Festival, to be inaugurated in 2007 - the festival’s 25th anniversary year. Deal Festival of Music and the Arts goes from strength to strength, not only as an arts festival for the people of Deal and the surrounding rural area, but also for those who, increasingly, travel some distance to enjoy the variety of events on offer at festival time in this historic sea-side town.
Deal Carnival and Regatta
This is one of the largest in England and takes place at the end of July.
The history of the event can be traced back to 1826. After the closure of the Naval Dockyard in Deal the townspeople started to become restless. A great number of dock workers and sailors with very low spirits living locally became a worry to the local Council. They saw a need to raise interest and attract people into the area and came up with the Deal and Downs Regatta. At this time, all the events were water borne and the press of the time reported that they were a tremendous success, with what was described as 'a very colourful display out on the sea'.
Royalty became associated with the regatta with the Patronage starting with the last Naval Commander of the former Dockyard, the Duke of Clarence, who later became William IV. This was followed years later by Queen Victoria. Sailing and rowing events were the mainstay of the celebrations, usually over just one weekend in August, or in later years, September.
The title 'Royal Regatta' appears on many programmes from earlier this Century, right up to the Second World War when the title was dropped and became just 'Deal Regatta'. There have been breaks in the running calendar for the regatta, these have been due to many of the towns people fighting away from home as the breaks all coincided with wars. Since the late 1940s the regatta has been held every year, proving that the original idea was a good one, bringing revenue and a large number of tourists to the area.
As the event evolved, the Regatta Association organised water-borne events, pet shows, motor shows, carnivals, open-air concerts, firework displays and even an 'It's-A-Knockout' tournament. The current calendar of events, put together by a Committee of less than 10 volunteers, now takes up more than a week of days and nights.
Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539-40 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It was the largest of three forts constructed to defend the area of safe anchorage known as the Downs. The other forts were at Walmer, now the official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Sandown, which was largely demolished in the middle of the 19th century.
At the centre of Deal Castle is a round tower, strongly constructed to carry guns on its roof. Around its base are six small semi-circular bastions that overlook the outer wall. This has six more massive rounded bastions, one of which forms the gatehouse. These outer bastions originally had space for four guns on their flat roofs and a further three guns in rooms below. The design of the castle meant that a total of 66 guns could be mounted, and a further 53 handguns could be fired through firing-loops at basement level. Around 1570 the six outer bastions were filled with earth, probably to strengthen the gun mounts on the roof.
The defences were never put to the test during the Tudor period and it wasn't until 1648, during the Civil War, that the castle finally came under siege. The three 'castles of the Downs' were initially held for Parliament, but the forces switched allegiance to support the Royalist cause. It took Parliamentary forces, led by Colonel Rich, nearly three months to defeat the three castles, during which time they suffered great damage. Repairs were made to the castles and in the late 1720s more alterations were made to Deal Castle to provide more comfortable accommodation. The castle ceased to have a defensive role by the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, but it remained the home of the Captain of the Castle until the Second World War.
Deal Castle is located in the town centre, off Victoria Road. 8 miles north-east of Dover, on the A258. The site is owned by English Heritage.
The castle is open from 1 April to 30 September from 10am until 6pm Mon-Sun. NB On Saturdays the castle closes at 5pm. Prices – Adults £4; Children £2; Concession £3; English Heritage Members – Free. Car park available.
This was built by Henry VIII in 1539-1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It was one of three forts constructed to defend the Downs, an area of safe anchorage protected by the Goodwin Sands. The other forts were at Deal and Sandown.
At the centre of Walmer Castle is a circular keep, surrounded by an open courtyard and protected by a concentric wall, from which four, squat, semi-circular bastions project. The northern bastion forms the gatehouse and would have had a gun on its roof; the other bastions would have had guns mounted inside them and on the roof. The central keep would also have had guns mounted on its roof giving the castle the capacity to mount 39 guns. A gallery running around the castle at basement level has 32 loops for hand-guns covering the moat.
In 1708 Walmer Castle took on a new role as the residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Cinque Ports Confederation originated in the 11th century when the five ports of Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich joined forces to provide ships and men for the defence of the coast and protection of cross-channel trade. In return for these services they received substantial local privileges including immunity from all external courts of justice and from national taxation. In the 13th century the office of Warden was instituted to oversee and regulate the affairs of the Confederation. Initially this position carried real power, but with the forming of a Royal Navy and the decline of the Cinque Ports, the role of Warden became more of an honorary position bestowed to those who had given distinguished service to the state.
Over the years successive Wardens converted the fort and its grounds into a comfortable country house and gardens. Resident Wardens included William Pitt the Younger (whose niece Lady Hester Stanhope initiated the Walmer Castle gardens, using labour from the local militia), the Duke of Wellington (who died here), Sir Winston Churchill and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Memorabilia from these past Wardens, including two rooms dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, can be viewed at the castle.
The castle is open at these times: 1 Apr-30 Sep Mon-Sun 10am-6pm. Closes at 4pm on Sat; 1-31 Oct Wed-Sun 10am-4pm; Closed 1 Nov-29 Feb; 1-20 Mar Wed-Sun 10am-4pm; Closed 13-14 Jul and to 1pm 15 Jul when Lord Warden in residence.
Adult: £6.30; Children: £3.20; Concession: £4.70; English Heritage Members: Free; Other: Family Ticket: £15.80
Travel to Deal
The M20 and M2 connect directly to Dover then take the A258 to Deal. It's a straightforward two hour drive from the centre of London. National Express Coaches operate services to and from London Victoria Coach Station.
Deal station is just a short walk from the town centre and is served by frequent trains from London Charing Cross (journey time approximately 2 hours). Eurostar passengers connect at Ashford for a 40-minute journey to Deal.
Heathrow is approximately 2 hours drive; Gatwick and London City airports are around 1¾ hour's drive.
Getting around Deal
Local buses run throughout the day. Timetable information is available from Stagecoach East Kent Buses. Local taxis are also good value and there are plenty of them. Frequent trains to Folkestone, Sandwich and Ramsgate. For Canterbury, change at Dover.
Deal Farmers' Market Sale of local farm produce, normally held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month in The Undercroft of Deal Town Hall, High Street, Deal, 9.30am - 1.30pm. Tel: 01304 361999
Deal General Market Held every Saturday morning and early afternoon in Union Road/Duke Street car park, Deal. Tel:07877 806870
The Balmoral Surgery, 1 Victoria Road 01304l 373444
The Cedars, 24 Walmer Road, Walmer, Deal 01304 373341
Bank House Dental Practice, Bank House, 1 The Beach, Walmer, Deal 01304 239000
Bute House Health Clinic, 30 Victoria Road 01304 375293
Dental Practice, 9 Stanhope Road 01304 374430
Victoria Hospital, London Road 01304 865400
To check for the latest details and to confirm times please contact: Deal Visitor Information Centre, The Landmark Centre, High Street, Deal CT14 6BB Tel: 01304 369576 or visit www.deal.gov.uk.
Open: Monday to Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-12noon.
Deal Library also holds a limited amount of local tourist information; contact the library on 01304 369576.
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015