The Beach between Deal and Walmer Castle's is a vast expanse of shingle beach with a pleasant footpath and cycle path nearby. It's a nice place to walk along (and certainly the most pleasant way to get from one castle to the other) and I imagine it's a nice place for a day on the beach if that's your sort of thing. It was a quiet place not too crowded on the day that I went.
Walmer was another of the Tudor artillery forts built along the English coast by Henry VIII to repel a feared invasion by Europe's catholic powers (like Deal and Camber) but Walmer has developed since it's days as a fortress to become an attractive stately home. By the 18th century Walmer castle became the residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and successive Lords Warden have modernised the castle into a comfortable home.
Perhaps the most notable of the castle's residents was the Duke of Wellington who held the title and castle from 1829 until his death in 1852. Wellington died here and you can still see the armchair in which he passed away in the "Duke of Wellington's Room" on the first floor of the 18th century part of the structure.
Other notable Lords Warden have been William Pitt the Younger (there is also a Pitt museum room opposite the Wellington museum room in the castle), Winston Churchill and the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother who was Lord warden up until her death in 2002. She was also the only woman to have ever held the post so far.
The current Lord Warden (Admiral the Lord Boyce) does still have private apartments here but it is no longer a main home.
The audio tour of the property takes you around the rooms including the bedroom of Queen Victoria which she stayed in during the month long visit of the Queen and Prince Consort in 1842and the Dining room used by the late Queen Mother.
The gardens are equally worth visiting at Walmer Castle. In particular I liked the Queen Mother's garden with it's lovely pool and pavilion.
The property is now owned by English Heritage and so admission is free to English Heritage members. For non-members it's £7.50 for adults and £4.50 for children (as at April 2012).
The Timeball Tower on Deal seafront originally played a part in the sending of semaphore signals to ships off the coast. After this it came to house the timeball which would drop at 1pm precisely upon receipt of the electronic signal from Greenwich so that sailors could ensure their maritime chronometers were set accurately.
On this site there had previously been a shutter telegraph station that was used to convey messages rapidly between the naval dockyard at Deal and the admiralty in London during the Napoleonic wars.
The tower now houses a museum about signalling and communication which was not open when I visited on Good Friday. But it does apparently open 12noon to 4pm on weekends between Easter and the end of September. Their website says that admission is £2 for adults and £1 for children.
Deal Castle was one of the Tudor artillery forts built by King Henry VIII along the English coastline to repel an expected or feared invasion from continental Europe following his break with the Roman Catholic Church over his marriage to (and desire to divorce) Catherine of Aragon. The coastline around Deal was considered to be especially vulnerable with it's long shingle beaches near deep water and close to the European mainland making it an ideal landing point for the enemy. Presumably this is why this stretch of coast got three such fortresses (Deal, Walmer and Sandown).
The design of these forts with their curves and short height made them state of the art at the time of their building. The curved bastions prevented there being any blind spots from which an enemy could approach without being in the direct line of fire of the fort and the squat nature made the fort a difficult target to hit from the sea.
Before the castle was even complete it played host to Anne of Cleves (the 4th wife of Henry VIII) for a few days while she was on her way to London to meet her new husband before the short-lived marriage took place.
The castle did not see military action until the English Civil War. At the outbreak of this war in 1642 all three of the coastal forts along this stretch of coast, along with nearby Dover castle were under parliamentary control. By 1648 however local sentiment in Kent was favouring the Royalist cause and large numbers of Kentish men took up arms for the King (the Kentish Uprising of 1648) and aided by Royalist ships off the Deal coast the three forts came under Royalist control. The Royalists also made an attempt to take Dover castle but this seige was quickly relieved by Parliamentary forces. The retaking of Walmer, Deal and Sandown castles was a much tougher task however, particularly because they were being supplied from the sea. Eventually Deal castle surrendered to the Parliamentarians after hearing of the defeat of Royalist forces at Preston in Lancashire which had effectively ended any hope of a victory for the King.
By the 18th century the fort was widely regarded as outdated and work to modernise the accomodation and make it more comfortable for the captain rather than a fighting fort had begun. The castle has now come under the care of English Heritage.
Highlights of a tour of the castle include (for me anyway):
1) The "Rounds" which is a narrow and at places very dark passageway around the edge of the castle from which defenders could fire at attackers in the moat with hand guns. This is very atmospheric but somewhat creepy down here.
2) the views across Deal seafront and out to sea on a fine day from the Outer Bastions.
3) the kitchens (still complete with ovens) in the soldiers living quarters on the ground floor of the keep.
4) 18th century panelling and Tudor wattle and daub plaster partitions on the first floor of the keep.
As at April 2012 admission is £4.90 for adults, £2.90 for children but free to English Heritage members. The castle is open from 10am to 6pm in summer but I believe only until 4pm in winter.
The Memorial Bandstand in Deal stands on Walmer Green and is dedicated to the memory of 11 musicians who were killed in 1989 when the local Royal Marine barracks were bombed. It's a twelve sided structure and eleven sides have a plaque bearing the name of one of the killed musicians.
Apparently there are concerts held here at 2.30pm on Sundays from May to September which are free but a collection and raffle are held. Since my visit was in April, I've not had the chance to see what the concerts are like.
There are no amusement arcades or fortune tellers on this pier. Although the current pier was built between 1954 and 1957 it probably keeps more faithfully than most piers in English seaside towns to the original Victorian idea for a pier - to be near and surrounded by the water. It's a prominent local landmark and popular both with anglers and people just wanting to walk up and down it's length. The concrete nature of the pier doesn't make it the prettiest pier you'll see, but I suppose it's typical of the time in which it was built. Personally though I still much prefer Eastbourne Pier in my hometown.
The history of the piers of Deal is quite interesting. The first pier was built in 1838 but was destroyed by storms and sandworms and ended up thrown onto the beach by a large storm in 1857 and was then sold for scrap for just £50.
Work on a second pier started in the Spring of 1863 and the abutments were built of stone taken from the nearby ruined castle at Sandown. This sounds like it was probably quite a pier as it had steamers docking at it's far end, had three decks and a tramway running it's length. Unfortunately this pier had rather a lot of bad luck as well and following being hit by ships in 1873 and 1884 it was badly damaged and eventually was bought by the local council for £10,000 in 1920.
During the second world war the second pier finally met it's match when the damaged Dutch vessel Nora was towed onto Deal beach against the advice of local fishermen who knew the currents here. at night the tide came in and repeatedly smashed the Nora against the pier until the ship smashed it's way through the pier completely. What was left was then demolished on the orders of Winston Churchill to give a clear line of fire for the British coastal guns.
The garden's at Walmer Castle lived up to their reputation of being good! Lavender was in flower, hedges of it, so can you imagine the smell? .......delightful!!
Two Lord's who lived here were amateur gardeners who built the kitchen garden, glen and walled garden, then, in 1865, another Lord took over, and employed a professional landscape gardener who designed the garden in the 17th century formal, Italian Style.
What I saw in the garden....................
In 1997, a new garden was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, to commemorate her positon as Lord Warden and to celebrate her 95th birthday. Her garden contains topiary, a 95ft pool, a parterre and large mixed borders.
The Broad Walk was beautiful, full of colour on either side of the path.
The moat, is well kept lawn with lilacs, fuchsias and hydrangeas, much prettier than water!
The terraces are full of pink Rose's named after the Queen mother.
The Kitchen garden with espalier trained fruit trees, vegetables and flowers for cutting.
The main glasshouse was chocker's with beautiful plants in flower, what a picture it was!
This garden is lovely, and being a gardener, I really enjoyed my time in the garden and in the Castle.
Walmer Castle I wanted to see, as I heard the garden's were really nice.
This is another Castle that was built by King Henry VIII as a coastal artillery defence. The other two were Deal & Dover Castle [I have tips on both]
It was the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, of which The Duke of Wellington held the post for 23 years. On our walk through the Castle, they still have the armchair on display which he died in, and an original pair of "Wellington Boots."
Other important visitor's, were Queen Elizabeth II, and the Queen Mother, and we could admire the room's they stayed in when they came here for a relaxing holiday.
There are lots of old paintings, and altogether, we thought this was a very nice Castle.
There is no need to do a tour, we could wander around, and ask question's from assistant's, or included in the price was an audio guide in several language's.
Toilets, Cafe, Gift shop, and on site parking all was available.
All of these Castles are very close together, if you wish to see them.
OPEN....10 - 6PM
ADMISSION IN 2011..Adults: £7.30 ...Children: £4.40...Concessions: £6.60
.....Family Ticket: £19.00
I had the English Heritage Pass, so admission for me was free!
Driving around the countryside in Kent, we saw several Windmill's. They were different to what I had seen in other countries. This one, we saw in the distance, is very similar to West Kingsdown Mill, as it has an otagonal smock and base.
The historic Windmill's are open through-out the year, so please check the website for details, it might be an interesting day out!
From what I read, entrance fee is either small or free.
Deal Castle in an aerial photo, reminds me a bit of a Flower petal. It is a different shape, having many round walls, different to other Castle's I had seen.
Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539-40 as an artillery fortress to stop any invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It was the largest of three forts constructed to defend the area, the other's were Walmer, now the official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Sandown, [nearly demolished.]
So here I was, standing and walking in the Castle where once Henry VIII did the same, simply amazing! The Castle isn't furnished much, perhaps, because it was a Tudor Artillery Castle.
We couldn't enter the basement as it was flooded through heavy rain, it didn't matter, we knew it was for storing munition's and food. The Castle was furnished very little.
The middle floor was where the kitchen and general accommodation were, with the Officer's quarter's on the top level.
It is believed that entry to this Castle was via a drawbridge, this no longer exists! The Officer's quarters have been refurbished in the 18th century, but the rest has been left like it was in the Tudor era.
We parked our car in the car-park next to the Castle, and then did a short walk to the Castle.
The Castle has a gift shop and Toilet's and we could have an audio guide for free with the admission price.
This Castle in my opinion isn't one of the must see's, Dover & Walmer, both quite close by are much better.
OPEN....10 - 6PM
ADMISSION IN 2011.....
Adults: £4.80 ...Children: £2.90 ...Concessions: £4.30....Family Ticket: £12.50
We had the English Heritage pass, so admission was free
Unlike its illustrious neighbour just a mile along the coast at Walmer, Deal castle wasn't chosen as the residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports nor does it have a nice garden as befits someone of stature, such as the Duke of Wellington, or Winston S Churchill or even latterly HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
But it is a fine example of a coastal defensive fort built in a time when the threat of invasion from across the Channel was at its height.
Deal Castle gave artillery cover as well for the ships that would enter the Downs, the stretch of sea between the notorious Goodwin Sands (now you see them now you don't!), to anchor, whether merchant men wanting to unload or ships of the Royal Navy.
Deal itself is also famous for its long association with the Royal Marines.
Built in the early 1540's by Henry the VIII along with four other similar castles to strengthen England's defence, and designed to resemble the Tudor rose, Deal Castle was deliberately built with low rounded walls to avoid enemy cannon fire from the sea.
The seafront is easily accessible and the are not hundreds of souvenir shops to detract from the sedate feeling of the town.
It has a feeling of grntility and noting flash but it has a charm which I think coes out in this photo.