Deal and Sandwich
Be prepared to fall madly in love.
View of Sandwich The charming sea front in Deal
This beautiful corner of Kent might be known for a more famous city with its magnificent cathedral and tales of Chaucer that is Canterbury. However, if you explore some nearby places you will, luckily, end up in Deal and Sandwich, which are also within easy reach from Dover.
Two very different towns, both picturesque, and if like me, you love quaint English spots, be prepared to fall in love and don't be surprised if you catch yourself researching house prices whilst dreaming of living in this astonishingly beautiful part of the world.
I took the children on a day trip which for them, was more than enough time to explore. I certainly intend to go back with more time and enjoy all the corners of Medieval Sandwich and the cool sea front bars and the live music in Deal.
We started off in Deal Castle. Built in the 16th century by Henry VIII, this fortress was the kingdom's way to protect this part of the coast constantly under threat by the French. Looked after by the English Heritage, it is very much worth a visit, particularly if you have small people with you. Park your car and just walk this utterly charming seaside town that is as elegant as Brighton is colourful. Take Beach Street and enjoy the waterfront collection of pastel coloured buildings and fishing boasts spread along the pebble beach. We stopped at the sleek and relaxed Boathouse Bar for a drink before exploring the Middle Street, a long stretch of Historical houses that were homes of fishermen in the 19th century and now is one of the most sought after and expensive addresses to live in Deal. A few minutes from there, the high street. I recommend lunch at the Pop Up Café. They have a selection of great vegetarian options and super healthy and delicious salads. Some great milkshake choices are also on offer, so the whole family were very happy indeed. We also recommend a visit to the High Street bookshop as they have a really brilliant selection of children's titles.
The Pop Up Café - The bookshop at the High Street and an archway leading to Beach Street in Deal
From Deal, Sandwich is around a 15 minute drive. A model of a Medieval town, Sandwich is so quaint and historic, I suspect its old town must be one of the spots with the most Tudor buildings in England. A 14th century Fisher Gate is one of the very few Medieval gates still standing. The sense I had from Sandwich was of a half sleepy town. It is quiet and with just under 5,000 inhabitants it is hard to imagine it as a party place. However, it is dotted with very old pubs, wine and books shops and art galleries, which is my idea of perfection. The old town harbour is only a stretch of the river now, but take your time to sip a glass of white, if the sun is shinning, in the nearby The Crispin Inn and guess some of the reasons for the town's peculiar road names such as No Name Street, Holy Ghost Alley and a more welcoming Love Lane.
We recommend finishing your trip with a visit to the marvellous Medieval church of St Peter's. The vast and lofty building preserves an incredible amount of original features in this space dedicated to Sandwich's guardian of a very old tradition: the curfew bell. Still to this day, at 8pm, the tower bell rings reminding its people to keep safe in their homes and that their animals were then, allowed in the streets. You can visit the bell tower, an extraordinary experience. Over one hundred steps to reach the top, you will pass an impressive collection of bells until you reach a very small door that tells you to keep it shut due to pesky pigeons entering the tower. Closing the door behind you after climbing this medieval building and ending up in a very narrow balcony at the top is not exactly a relaxing feeling. But try to forget the fact that the door could slam shut and you could be locked in the tower until the next person comes up, and enjoy the utterly sensational views of Sandwich, this silent, quaint, historic and truly special town.
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