September 16 – Interesting places to Visit in Deal

Heritage open Days 2018 venues

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We had a nice sleep in this morning although I did get up to feed Boris after he came to walk all over me for a while. A sure signal that it was time for breakfast!

This year the Heritage Open Days took place over two weekends. This weekend Deal has lots of places open which you would usually have to play from. We visited some yesterday and today we visited some more.

The first which was just around the corner was “Captain’s Garden”. Historically this was an ornamental and a kitchen garden for the Captain of Deal Castle, a very prestigious post in its time. For years neglected, this is now being brought back into use by the community. Deal Hop Farms is starting to return the 1.2 acres back to a garden with some vegetables and flowers including a wildflower area but also 12 dwarf hop plants and a patch of barley. They got 2 kg barley when it was harvested a few weeks ago and the hops with other hops grown in gardens all around Deal go to an artisan brewer in Ripple, nearby. The “Deal with It” community takes part in various projects around the town and the volunteers come to tend the gardens in a similar way to Incredible Edible.

Next, we walked around the corner to the Deal Timeball Tower and walked up to the top of the tower looking at the museum displays on each level. It is a Grade II listed building and is a reminder of the importance of the town to the navy in Georgian times. The museum features exhibits about the uses of the tower for navigation, signalling, timekeeping and the mechanics of operating time ball, which was established in 1855 by the Admiralty and maintained by the Greenwich Observatory from 1864 to 1927. It is a fascinating museum and I was particularly interested in the video which clearly explained the measurements used to find latitude and longitude. Before it became a time ball tower, the tower was a semaphore tower used to signal to ships at anchor or passing in the English Channel.

Today there are over sixty time balls standing, though many of these are no longer operational except Deal, Greenwich, Edinburgh and Lyttelton, New Zealand. The Lyttelton time ball was damaged in the earthquakes to hit Christchurch in 2011 and 2012  and finally collapsed on 13 June 2011 after a magnitude 6.4 aftershock. It is currently being rebuilt. On August 1st 2018 the Lyttelton time ball station flagpole was craned back on site and installed in its rightful place.

As we walked along the beach front we saw a street organ playing. It was a Jan van Eyk Dutch street organ and makes a brilliant sound. Books of perforated cardboard book music are loaded to play the music. The three characters at the front of the organ moved in time with the music and we were able to see the back of the organ where the drums, and organs were played and the music books were loaded.

We also looked at the free walking tours of Deal which take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was very interested in the 4 pm smuggling tour but we did not make it back in time. Maybe next time when we return in two weeks time.

When we got to High Street we found that the whole street had been closed off to hold a once a year “Braderie” market with lots of antique stalls. We had fun walking down the entire length although we were not tempted by anything for the obvious reason that we would have to eventually get it home to New Zealand. It was interesting though and a perfect day to wander along enjoying the weather and the atmosphere.

Next, we went to the Maritime and Local History Museum in St Georges St. The museum portrays the changing history of Deal, Walmer and the surrounding area and is packed with fascinating glimpses into the past. A lady told us all about the museum which had exhibitions about the boats that went to Dunkirk and also the great history of smuggling. There was also an exhibition on the Royal Marines and we talked to a gentleman there at great length. One of the especially interesting things is the Goodwin Sands.

Goodwin Sands is a 10-mile (16 km) long sandbank at the southern end of the North Sea lying 6 miles (10 km) off the Deal coast, The area consists of a layer of approximately 25 m (82 ft) depth of fine sand resting on an Upper Chalk platform. The banks lie between 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in) above the low water mark to around 3 m (10 ft) below low water, except for one channel that drops to around 20 m (66 ft) below. More than 2,000 ships are believed to have been wrecked upon the Goodwin Sands because they lie close to the major shipping lanes. The few miles between the sands and the coast is also a safe anchorage used as a refuge from foul weather known as The Downs. It is also a graveyard of WWII pilots. There is an ongoing controversy as the Dover Harbour Board which to dredge the area which will disturb wrecks and watery graves.

We then walked home, an easy walk of about 500 metres to feed Boris and water the garden. A very interesting day in Deal. I can see why people would like to live here as there are lots of interesting things to do and groups to belong to, places to eat, entertainment and being by the seaside.