ST MARGARETS BAY
Reach Court Farm Cottages are found just outside the picturesque village of St Margarets. The village is approximately 10 minutes walk (or 1 minute by car!) and boasts several good pubs, restaurants and a well stocked convenience store.
St Margaret's Bay joined the modern world in 1865 when Lord Granville, then the new Warden of the Cinque Ports, decided the little fishing village should blossom into a popular seaside resort. The Granville Flats (formerly The Granville Hotel) still stands as a memorial to his lordship's dream and the resort that developed became home, at different times, to such famous residents and visitors as Lord Arthur Cecil, Lord Byron, Max Beerbohm, Noel Coward, Ian Fleming and Peter Ustinov.
At the turn of the 1900's the area was dubbed 'The Piccadilly of the Sea.' Looking out across the channel, you could once see warships, cargo carriers, tankers and ferries, in the busy waters. Although today the most common sight are the cross-Channel ferries and the occasional cruise liner in the summer, the English Channel is still said to be the busiest shipping lane in the World. A private path and 5 minute walk will take you right to the top of the famous White Cliffs of Dover, overlooking the busy Port and extensive views of the French coast.
In 1918, the last bomb to be dropped in England in World War One fell on St Margaret's. When World War Two began, the area, like many others along the south coast, was evacuated of all unnecessary civilians and occupied by troops in readiness for the expected invasion. Just outside the village, Britain's first two big naval guns, known as 'Winnie' (after Prime Minister Winston Churchill) and 'Pooh' were installed, locked onto the French coast. Unfortunately these guns were somewhat unreliable, doing more damage to local windows than enemy lines.
There are many fantastic walking tracks around the farm, either through the wooded valley, along the blustery cliff top or down into the Bay itself. Look out for pieces of local history scattered around the countryside here, you will find old gun placements, bunkers and magazines from the Second World War.
The Bay and beach area is a 15 minute walk from the farm (or 25 minutes back!), taking you down a winding path with some fantastic sea views through the pines. You will pass the beautiful Pines Gardens and fascinating St Margarets Museum next door, both are well worth a visit, rounded off with afternoon tea at the Noel Coward dedicated team-room!
On the pebble bay you can dabble your toes in the rock pools or if all the walking has taken it's toll, grab yourself a drink at the Coastguard pub, relax, and watch the day go by. Also on the beach is the former home of Noel Coward, later bought by author Ian Fleming. Local legend would have it that Fleming took the name 007 from the bus that travelled between St Margarets and nearby Martin Mill!
If you're looking for some sporting action, there are several top class golf courses nearby, the most famous of these being Royal St Georges at Sandwich, home of the 2003 British Open. There are many local riding schools in the area too, or if your passion is watching rather than riding, Folkestone Racecourse is 30 minutes by car. Cricket lovers might like to spend a day at the St Lawrence ground, Canterbury, recognised as the most attractive county ground in the country.
The town of Dover is a 10 minute drive from Reach Court Farm. Dover Castle sits proudly overlooking the town and is well worth a visit. Known as the 'Key to England,' the castle boasts 2000 years of history and includes a Roman Lighthouse, Saxon Church, and Norman Keep. The tour of the secret wartime tunnels that run through the chalk cliffs (Hellfire Corner) is a must, and includes many wartime operation rooms as well as the underground bunker that would have played home to the most important people in the country had Britain come under nuclear attack! It is said that only 25% of the tunnels have been found so far.
Dover's history as a military and garrison town can be seen in the extensive remains of its Roman forts, Napoleonic forts and defence from both the World Wars when Dover was Britain's Frontline Town.
Today, Dover still relies on the harbour for its prosperity. It is the busiest passenger ferry terminal in the world, the busiest cruise liner terminal in Britain and a major port for freight. There are regular ferries to France from the Port of Dover, which is a delightful way to spend a day or even just an afternoon or evening sampling wines and local cuisine. Don't forget your passports!
The nearby town of Deal is also a 10 minute drive from St Margarets and was named as a 'limb port' of the Cinque Ports in 1278. Due to its position on the Downs, the town grew to become for a while the busiest port in England; today it enjoys the reputation of being a quiet seaside resort, its quaint streets and houses the only reminder of its fascinating history.
If you're feeling peckish, where better than to stop for some locally caught, fresh fish and chips! You could get it to take away, have a wonder along the pier and watch the local fishermen ply their trade or spot the shipwrecks out on the infamous Goodwin Sands.
Its finest building is the Tudor Deal Castle, commissioned by King Henry VIII and designed with an attractive rose floor plan. There is a fascinating exhibition, 'The Story of Deal Castle,' or simply explore the exciting battlements, dark passages and huge basement yourself.
The cathedral city of Canterbury is 20 minutes by car from St Margarets Bay, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of All England, head of the Church of England. There has been a settlement in Canterbury since prehistoric times, and the city later became became a Roman administrative centre: it lay at the junction of three roads from their ports of Regulbium (Reculver), Dubris (Dover) and Lemanis (Lympne); and it stood on what has become known as Watling Street. The city walls and one of the city gates remain.
The city has a wealth of history surrounding it, in fact, too much to write here! Canterbury Cathedral is a great place to learn about Canterburys religious history, and also don't forgot to visit St Augustines Abbey and Canterbury Castle.
The Canterbury Tales give you an insight into the life, sounds and smells of Canterbury through the ages. If the weather is good, why not learn about the history of Canterbury along the canal.
During World War II the city was severely damaged by bombing after it was targeted by the Luftwaffe in the Baedeker Blitz. Post-war large scale redevelopment of the city centre started quickly with the rebuilding of much of the bomb damaged east of the city, including what is now the Whitefriar's development.
Today Canterbury welcomes visitors from all four corners of the globe and has, with its many ancient buildings, shops, bars and restaurants, retained both an old world charm and a cosmopolitan vitality.
The small and compact city centre is closed to traffic during the daytime to enable the narrow streets and the many attractions to be more easily and safely accessed by visitors. From April to October guided walking tours leave from the Canterbury Information Centre where you can buy your tickets. Canterbury Cathedral alone attracts well over one million visitors each year. Canterbury also boasts some fantastic shopping, or an evening visit to the famous Marlowe Theatre adds to the many attractions available in the area.
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