History and Heritage
A wealth of history: From Saints to WW2 planes
Thanet teams a vibrant present with a super-rich past. Romans, Saints and Anglo-Saxons - they all arrived here. The Isle's inspired famous authors, architects and artists. And has helped defend our nation and define our seaside style. The past is present in Thanet - it's time to discover more.
Start with the cliffs - 80 million years old, chalk-white and carved by the sea into exquisite stacks and bays. The Romans landed here; the Jutes Hengist and Horsa battled for power; the early-Christian missionary St Augustine brought faith. The Normans brought countless fine churches that still survive today.
The 1700's passion for saltwater bathing sparked the seaside holiday boom. The legacy is the fine Georgian, Regency and Victorian buildings dotted around Thanet's atmospheric resorts. The Isle can boast some tourism 'firsts': bungalows in Birchington; donkey rides (1890) and deckchairs (1898) in Margate. Rural Thanet is studded with brick-built Dutch and Flemish gabled cottages and farms.
The Isle's beauty drew famous names. Charles Dickens adored "delightful", "fresh" Broadstairs; JMW Turner was inspired by Margate's stunning sunsets; Augustus Pugin chose appealing Ramsgate as the place to build his home. Explore these connections today: Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs; Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate; Pugin's home, The Grange, in Ramsgate and the home of the remarkable Major Powell-Cotton (1866-1940), who created the Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington
WWI brought an airfield at RAF Manston. A museum houses a Spitfire and Hurricane that served in WWII. Ramsgate sent 'little ships' to Dunkirk, and welcomed 80,000 soldiers safely back from France. The arts and crafts, and Art-Deco-style houses of Cliftonville deliver Jazz Age glamour; the Walpole Bay Hotel brings the era vividly to life.
And that just scratches the surface. Watch our film to find out more