Deal has played an important historical role in the past having, not one, but three castles built by Henry VIII, namely Deal, one of the finest Tudor artillery castles in England, Walmer, a favourite retreat for the late Queen Mother and Sandown. The first two, now owned by English Heritage, you can visit but for Sandown only a few stones remain. Henry VIII built these Castles as part of an elaborate chain of coastal forts to defend against potential invasion from the Continent in the 1500’s and they were then called into action again during the Napoleonic war. Prior to that Deal was a member of the Confederation of Cinque Ports along with other important Ports at the time such as Sandwich, Hythe, New Romney and Hastings.
For the historians Deal is mentioned in the Doomsday book, but evidence suggests its history goes back much further. Julius Caesar is said to have landed on the Deal- Walmer coast in 55 and 54 BC.
There is something for everyone in Deal, fantastic independent shops, a Farmers market on a Thursday and a very popular main market every Saturday, delicatessens, pubs, restaurants and cafes. There is a long Pier, very popular with anglers, and the beach is perfect for soaking up the coastal scenery and gazing out to France and the infamous Goodwin Sands. Deal is a genuine Georgian town with winding streets inviting you to explore them and their fascinating history combined with a lovely promenade which extends from Kingsdown to Sandwich as part of the Saxon Shore Way.
Other things to do in Deal include the Time Ball Tower Museum, which is a Semaphore Tower and was used to pass messages along the East Coast to warn of smugglers. This museum contains many curious items and is well worth a visit. Many houses along the seafront and in the Conservation area still have evidence of secret hideaways where the smugglers used to stash their contraband. The Deal Maritime and Local History Museum in St. George’s Street is also very interesting as it tells the full and fascinating historical story of this seaside town. The Deal Memorial Bandstand is a remembrance of the bombing of Deals Royal Marine School in the 1980’s. The bandstand is still in use and there are free concerts from May to September on Sunday afternoons, a perfect way to finish a weekend.
For sandy beaches Sandwich Bay and Broadstairs are a short drive away. There are two fantastic zoos' to keep the children amused, Howletts and Port Lympne, both part of the Aspinall Foundation, plus a number of other excellent family days out at Deal, Walmer and Dover Castle as well as The Canterbury Tales, Canterbury Cathedral, Wingham Wildlife Park. If you are looking to go a little further afield you can now be in London with the high speed rail link in just over an hour from Dover or explore Dickens’ World or the historic Chatham dockyard on the Medway, both within an hour’s drive.
For garden enthusiasts there are a number of places well worth a visit such as Walmer Castle, Goodnestone Park and The Salutation in Sandwich.
It is golfers paradise in this area with the Championship course of Royal St Georges at Sandwich, Royal Cinque Ports at Deal and Princes at Sandwich Bay. Other sporting activities include water sports and fishing. For bird lovers, there is a wonderful Bird Sanctuary in Sandwich Bay. For more information see our “things to do” section.
If you feel like a day trip to France, then taking a ferry from Dover or the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone couldn't be easier, just don’t forget your passport!