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Sep 2019

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That's Walmer as in "Mmmm, it's warmer than it was yesterday" and not as in 'Wilma' although why anyone would pronounce it that way is a complete mystery to the young barmaid[1] as well. It's really just part of Deal, these days, but with a bit of history that's not quite so  prehistoric.

Much of it is military and not normally of much interest but later this afternoon, this one will think he's Simon Sharma while secretly wishing to be Sherlock.

[1] Walmer Ale, since you ask, a micro-reimagining of a traditional, local brew.

Kick-off is at Walmer Castle where things never really did, really. Henry VIII had three of these concentric constructions built, with a few forts in between, to protect the all too convenient landing sites inshore of Goodwin Sands.

Potential invaders first included the French and then, having peed off the Pope, the Holy Roman Empire, no less, but they wouldn't even see any action against the Armada and, yes, it's known that was Lizzie I and a little later.

Sandown Castle is now just sand and Deal is disappointing but this one has been kept intact to the point of demanding a double-digit number of  English Heritage™ pounds for your entrance.

The repellent gave way to the residential when, in the early 18th century, Walmer Castle became home to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, whatever that means exactly.

A proto-protection racket, really, this once powerful position was held by  Arthur Wellesley, no less, and the actual room, and possibly the very bed, is where the Wellington kicked the bucket in 1852.

Not to issue too many spoilers but inside is quite Napoleon and Queen Mother heavy. Frequent and fairly recent use was made as a royal bolthole, you see, although the current incumbent, Admiral of the Fleet  Michael Cecil Boyce, Baron Boyce KG, GCB, OBE, KStJ, DL, isn't known to share the space with the day-trippers.

A posh, lady visitor is overheard to say she knows 'Mike' meaning she once got within 20 yards of him at a fancy, charity function, probably.

Heading outside, photography is once more allowed and a bridge over the moat leads to, if not quite topiary, some top-notch hedge management.

Now, beyond a clear bottle with 'London' or 'Plymouth' printed on it, this pair aren't particularly botanical but a good-looking garden is known when it's seen.

There's no hint of these eight acres from the front but, intricate in design, the blooms have yet to fully fade and, in keeping with the castle, some parts are certainly statuesque.

Oh! And there's a skinny, scavenging fox on the lawn.

A woodland trail showcases some bird-themed whittling, not shown, that's designed to get the kiddies acquainted with the avian. It brings to mind the gardens of Leonardo Da Vinci's lodgings in the Loire Valley[1] and leads to the recent addition of the 'Glen'.

Originally laid out by William Pitt the Younger during his term as Lord Warden, this chalk pit soon became as accessible as one of his speeches. Two million pounds and a purpose-built walkway later, there's access down to what took a year to clear and where the cuttings are carefully selected for the  calcareous soil.

Small-scale stuff, for sure, but with a café and a kitchen garden, this is all, quite frankly, rather marvellous.

[1] So you once went to France? Get over it, Grandad!

History lesson over, it's time to head into Walmer to see what's going on for those who aren't Lord Wardens. Not a massive amount, it would seem, but there's a whiff of the Good Life at some very Northern-looking allotments on Campbell Road.

Something set back and military has already been glimpsed through a gate and Cavalry Court, Trafalgar Drive and North Barrack Road should have been a clue.

Admiralty Mews, however, is right on the road and, dating from the 1790s, the grand army hospital and assorted barracks were requisitioned by the Royal Marines until they were decommissioned in the 1980s.

It's all posh, private housing now, obviously, and a bit of a contrast to the modest rows of terraces that run behind.

  The Freed Man (Dover Road)

Craft beer botherers and fans of the free house should head south down Dover Road for the  Freed Man micropub. It's a nod to landlord Ian Goodban's previous indenture to the big breweries when he might have received a tap on the wrist for selling decent booze on the side.

He's doing what the  Helles he likes now including pouring the porter via a Victorian contraption. It's as much about community as it is the gravity and there's no snobbery about draught lager but it's guaranteed to be something fancy.

George Orwell famously wrote of  The Moon Under Water, a perfect, yet fictional, pub. It's presumed here is quiet enough to talk and at least one of their fittings is uncompromisingly Victorian but what Orwell fails to mention is Quiz and Chips night every other Wednesday. Now come on!

This is now just about Deal so it's time to backtrack but this time by the seafront.

Walmer  Lifeboat Station might look like it occupies a Neo-Gothic chapel but that's just the style, built to mimic the aptly named and adjacent church of Saint Saviour's.

They're a busy bunch and that's largely down to strandings on  Goodwin Sands, not that they were called out in 55 BC.

Julius Caesar is said to have landed somewhere along this shingle stretch so that'll explain the long, straight path that's popular with cyclists and dog-walking promenaders, not shown.

There's been a lot of talk of invasions today, maybe too much talk, but there's evidence of another and it looks like there's a film crew in town.

'Bart an artist or sumfink' a bored sounding member of security explains prior to preventing any further progress over some false cobbles.

Benedictine-Monk-Cummerbund and Clair 'Lizzie II' Foy are filming a soon to be seen biopic of celebrated cat painter Louis Wain and no, never heard of him, neither.

With this being a period piece, Walmer's backdrop needs minimal dressing nor does the first-rate catering... lamb chilli, grilled swordfish, lentil dhal or just a jacket potato, perhaps?

A Brazilian with a hangover once said this one had a look of the Alec Baldwins and Mrs Guff can go very 'Judy Dench' when things aren't going to plan.

Here's a chance, then, to gatecrash the canteen but after the history lesson earlier none of that sounds particularly appealing.

There's a strange hankering for some beef... Wellington!