Ramsgate, on the Isle of Thanet, the furthest east you can go in
Once a favourite for family bucket-and-spade holidays, the
elegant Georgian terraces, Regency crescents, and fine harbour
offer plenty of grown-up attractions.
What to see
The splendid harbour with its yacht-packed marina is the focus
of the town. Designated a Royal Harbour by King George IV in 1820
(the only one in England), it has seen the departure of British
troops for the Napoleonic Wars and played an important part in the
1940 Dunkirk evacuation.
Ramsgate Maritime Museum, on the quayside, has four galleries,
and includes an important collection of artefacts from ships
wrecked on the notorious Goodwin Sands. The Ramsgate Meridian runs
through it.ucked against the cliff on the edge of the harbour, the
little Sailor's Church is a quiet place with a sense of the sea and
those who sail it.
A wander along the town's crescents, parades, and squares
reveals blue plaques to famous residents and visitors, from
Princess Victoria and Jane Austen to Wilkie Collins - who wrote
The Woman in White while staying at 14 Nelson Crescent -
and Vincent van Gogh, who lodged at 11 Spencer Square when he was
teaching at 5 Royal Road.
St Augustine's, on the West Cliff, is the "ideal church" of
Pugin, who spared no expensive in designing and building it
according to his "true principles of Christian architecture". He
was attracted to the site because it was close to where St
Augustine landed in AD 572. In 2012, the church was designated an
official shrine of St Augustine for pilgrimage.
Next door, The Grange, the house Pugin built for himself and his
family, has been beautifully restored by the Landmark Trust, and is
open to visitors by appointment (you can stay there, it sleeps
eight). Its colourful décor is reminiscent of the interiors he
designed for the Houses of Parliament.
Where to eat and drink
For good British cooking by a highly regarded chef with a
passion for ingredients gleaned from the coast and countryside of
Kent, seek out Age and Sons Restaurant, Café, and Bar in Charlotte
Court, a stylishly converted Victorian wine warehouse near the
Minster Abbey, founded in AD 670 by a great-granddaughter of
King Ethelbert, is one of the earliest monastic foundations in
England. Broadstairs has a lovely beach, retro ice-cream parlours,
and Charles Dickens connections, including the clifftop Bleak
House, where he wrote David Copperfield, and the
memorabilia-packed Dickens' House Museum. The excellent seafront
art gallery Turner Contemporary makes a visit to Margate a must.
Cross the road to wander the cobbled lanes of Margate's Old Town,
lined with galleries, cafés, crafts, and funky shops.