September 15 – Heritage Open Days in Deal

Gold Medal Winning Garden in Sandown

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Yesterday it was announced that the Sandown Castle Community Garden had won a gold award & overall category award winner in the Our Community section in the South & South East in Bloom! I have been following them on Facebook since we visited last time when we met John and Linda Ford while looking for a geocache. The garden was started in 2015 by a group of enthusiastic volunteers and as you can see by their success, this has paid off. The garden was part of the Heritage Open Days programme but unfortunately, none of the volunteers were there when we visited. It was a beautiful day and the garden was looking at its best.

Sandown Castle was built by Henry VIII as part of his coastal defence. It was similar to Walmer castle in design and built with recycled stone from a nearby monastery, it was completed in 1540. It was to be guarded by a captain and 34 men. In 1553, it was given to Lord Clinton, the Lord Warden of Cinque Ports after which it passed through a number of hands. In 1642, Sandown Castle was held by Parliamentary forces and during the Kent Rebellion in 1648, it was taken and declared for the King.  Cromwell’s army besieged the castle and it finally fell. In 1664, under Charles II, it was used as a prison for Colonel John Hutchinson who died there. It suffered sea damage in 1785 and it was remodelled in 1805 and garrisoned to assist in the defences against Napoleon. Following further sea and fire damage, the castle was finally sold and demolished in 1863, with the stone being used to repair the castle at Walmer.

Next, we visited the Convent of Our Lady of the Mission in Rectory Rd. We were greeted at the door by a sister who was visiting from Napier in New Zealand who was very excited to meet us. The sisters welcomed us enthusiastically telling us about the history of the convent, the schools and orphanage which they served. They gave us a cup of tea and a scone and we sat in the garden chatting with one sister who spent 50 years working in Bangladesh. The sisters are all retired now but they were full of stories and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit with them.

On the way down the road, we stopped to visit St Leonards church. We did the church micro here last year but the church was not open then. Today it was open as there was a wedding beginning in less than an hour so we asked if we could have a quick look. It is an unusually shaped church as the pews were to the left-hand side of the altar and it had a three-sided Georgian gallery. There were also ten funerary hatchments. The altar frontal and reredos are beautiful with a lovely stained glass window above it.

A visit to the Masonic Hall in Sondes St was next as it was a rare chance to see inside the world of Freemasonry featuring the symbolic and ornate temple. The Masonic Hall dates from 1910 and is home to five Masonic lodges in Deal. They fundraise for various charities and it was interesting to hear about their history. They had some particularly lovely stained glass window featuring the set square and compass symbols. There were also some lovely banners featuring those symbols.

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. Its roots lie in the traditions and ceremonies of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles. Freemasonry can trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients.

On walking to Stanhope Rd we visited the Kent Museum of the Moving Image. This is a new museum that explores the deep history of the moving image from the days of candle-lit magic lantern performances and hand painted slides through victorian visual experimentation to the advent and heydey of the cinema. This museum had some interesting displays of movie posters as well as props for movies and puppets. All manner of interesting things to be seen including a small theatre showing old movies. The museum featured the first photograph taken in 1827 by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. It also had a shadow theatre with puppets, books and silhouettes used in the production of the movies.

An interesting day visiting places that we would not usually get the opportunity to see. During dinner, we started watching the series “Touch” which we enjoyed being all about a savant child and his relationship with numbers, featuring Kiefer Sutherland.