Closer to Calais than London and with a thriving
arts scene and growing reputation as a foodie destination, get away from it all in delightful Deal
S o far Deal is doing a great job of juggling its dual roles; remaining true to its roots while appealing to newcomers looking for the next trendy hotspot. It’s a traditional seaside town, away from it all, and with the kind of friendly community and slower pace of life that’s ideal for those escaping the rat race. With a long stretch of pebble beach, an iconic pier and a thriving foodie scene, Deal is one of those places visitors fall in love with and never leave.
Overlooking the Channel (you’ll see France on a clear day), this town became a ‘limb’ of the Cinque Ports in 1278 and one of the busiest ports in England. Today it is a peaceful seaside resort but its history – a mix of fishing, mining and military – adds to its character. The picturesque town has a large conservation area, with the ancient, pastel-coloured houses of Middle Street at its heart. Recognised for its architectural importance early on, it was the first designated conservation area in Kent.
For lovers of history, there are Tudor castles overlooking the sea at both Deal and nearby Walmer. Under the care of English Heritage, the former artillery forts were constructed on the orders of Henry VIII and designed to look like a Tudor Rose from above. Then there’s Deal Maritime & Local History Museum. Currently closed for the winter, but due to reopen in April, it has excellent collections and archives.
Launched last year, a two-hour walking trail through Deal and Walmer looks into the area’s close links with the Royal Marines, which go back some 350 years. Pointing out some of the remaining landmarks of the former RM Depot, it’s a great way to explore the town and its military legacy (see also page 128).
Due to open at the end of March is Kent Mining Museum, which will be based at Betteshanger Sustainable Parks. Just one of the environmentally sustainable projects being set up on this 121-hectare site, which was the last of Kent’s collieries to close, the museum will include interactive displays about how coal was discovered, how it was mined and the day-to-day lives of the miners themselves.
Opened last spring, Deal’s Kent Museum of the Moving Image is a not-for-profit museum that explores the history of the moving image, from magic lantern performances to the heyday of cinema. It was founded by Professor Joss Marsh and David Francis, one of the originators of the award-winning London MOMI.
Deal has an active community and a thriving arts scene, with plenty of writers, photographers, artists and musicians. Live music can be found at one of many small venues every weekend and The Astor Theatre is an important part of local life. Head to the annual Deal Music & Arts