History of Deal

In the 16th Century King Henry VIII built three castles close by as artillery fortresses against invasion from France and Spain, Sandown Castle up the coast from Deal, Deal Castle which is the largest of the three and beautifully shaped like a Tudor Rose, and Walmer Castle, in Walmer. All three castles saw military action once, during a civil war siege in 1648 and were designed to protect the area of coast known as the Downs, giving these castles the name ‘Castles of the Downs’.

Deal has a long naval history and in the 18th Century became a significant shipping and military port and naval shipyard because of its sheltered anchorage even though it has no harbour. The port has been used by many famous people, including Lord Nelson, Captain James Cook and Charles Dickens.

Deal has a long history of smuggling (bringing goods illegally into England without paying tax on them) and so also coastguard action against smuggling dating from the late 1700s when boats were burned on the beach to the coastguard barracks, which were stationed from 1815 until 1840.

The Time Ball Tower was built as a semaphore tower, and later used as a timeball tower, where the ball on top of the museum was dropped each day at 1pm to enable ships to set their chronometers accurately (important for navigation).

Deal’s pier is the last remaining fully intact leisure pier in Kent. Deal has a long history of use in fiction, ranging from Charles Dickens Bleak House, Jane Austen’s Persuasion and H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds to Ian Fleming’s James Bond book Moonraker.

Some things to do in Deal:

  • Deal Castle
  • Time Ball Tower Museum
  • Deal Maritime and Local History Museum
  • Tides Leisure Centre
  • Deal Railway Station
  • Walmer Bicycle Hire
  • Walmer Castle and Garden
  • Walmer Railway Station
  • Sandown Castle Ruins
  • Fowlmead Country Park

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