Bohemian buzz

Kent Life - - Art Life - WORDS: Caro­line Read PIC­TURES: Manu Palomeque

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

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