History of Thanet‘s Villages
Delve in to the depth of our islands history
While Thanet's three main resorts are endlessly appealing, the Isle's low-lying green hinterlands are packed with must-see history too.
The villages of Minster, St Peter's and St Nicholas-at-Wade have grown up round splendid medieval churches. At Minster, the outer walls of St Mary's even have Roman fragments. Minster also has the ancient buildings of Minster Abbey, founded by Saint Domneva in 670 AD, and later owned by the monks of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. An order of Bavarian Benedictine nuns acquired the site in 1937, which became known as St Mildred's Priory. The community continues there to this day.
At Birchington, the historic church of All Saints, is home to some fine 16th and 17th century monuments. It also has a stained glass window to the memory of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who died at Birchington in 1882 and is buried in the churchyard there.
Not far from Birchington, Quex Park was the home of the remarkable Major Powell-Cotton (1866-1940), who created the Powell-Cotton museum on the estate. Full of unique natural history displays, porcelain and ethnic artefacts, it shouldn't be missed. Neither should the interiors and contents of the Regency-period Quex House itself.
The very names of some of the villages in Thanet - such as Garlinge and Acol - evoke ancient settlements. Acol means 'oak wood' and is home to the delightful Victorian church of St Mildred, built in 1879 by C.N. Beazley. Garlinge, near Margate, has what is known as the Dent-de-Lyon gatehouse. This is an imposing 15th century building, is all that's left of the once-grand home of the locally-important Daundelyon family.
At Sarre, in days gone by, Islanders could be ferried across the narrowest point of the Wantsum (the channel at one time making Thanet an actual island) to the mainland.
Westgate-on-Sea developed as an exclusive resort from the 1860s through to the Edwardian era. It's full of attractive buildings, from Victorian Gothic through to the cheerful red-brick-and-white-woodwork houses that are characteristic of the 1890s and early1900s.
The villages and rural areas of Thanet retain a strong feel of the past. It's a rugged and enduring quality which makes them deserving of a visit. You can tour by car, but the terrain and rich history suit walking, cycling or riding too.