In late 2019, the chairman of the parish council enquired whether I would be prepared to extend my tour portfolio beyond Folkestone to its neighbour along the coast, Sandgate. Following several discussions and nearly three months delay perpetrated by the pandemic, the first tour took place on 18th July 2020. We are now in the third season, and they continue to prove popular.
The village has an important history, disproportionate to its size, which surprises long term residents as much as visitors. Home to the Shorncliffe Army Camp, with the associated Royal Military Canal and Martello Towers nearby, it was a crucial defence against the anticipated Napoleonic attack in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries as well as a significant shipbuilding base and elegant seaside resort (long before Folkestone) – both at the same time!.
The tour, which lasts between two and a half and three hours, consists of a leisurely stroll along the characterful High Street from the Chichester Memorial Hall to the Esplanade, where we pause to reflect on the village’s military and social importance, before turning onto the stunning promenade, where a free hot or cold drink – and “call of nature” facilities – is available at the lovely Boat House café.
From there, we walk to Sandgate Castle (the Martello Tower that isn’t a Martello Tower!), and then up to Radnor Cliff for spectacular views along Hythe Bay and three houses inhabited by H.G. Wells in his most productive period ata the beginning of the twentieth century, before dropping down again into the High Street, where the tour ends.
Among other celebrated individuals with strong connections to Sandgate were the leader of the campaign to abolish slavery in the British colonies, a recipient of the Victoria Cross and a much-loved Carry On star! We encounter several other, perhaps less well known, but fascinating characters along the way too.
To make a booking go to the Tour Booking page.