Celebrating Royal Harbour Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a coastal town boasting a stunning maritime history, amazing architecture and a wonderfully vibrant waterfront with a distinct cosmopolitan feel.
Ramsgate’s roots lie in fishing, boat building and farming - a history still reflected in the town’s passion for local produce and fish dishes.
The importance of the town’s long maritime history as a port and its fine hospitality, were recognised by King George IV when he awarded the harbour Royal status - a unique accolade in mainland Britain. He was particularly impressed by the harbour, the warm welcome and the hospitality he received when he set off from Ramsgate with the Royal Squadron for Hanover in 1821.
A 52ft high granite obelisk was erected and engraved to mark the occasion. This can be seen close to Royal Victoria Pavilion, now the largest Wetherspoons in the country.
Royal Harbour Bicentenary Celebrations
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the harbour’s Royal status. To celebrate, events and activities will take place around the harbour from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th September.
These include a visit by TS Jack Petchy and some of the ‘Little Ships’, which played a part in helping to rescue British and French troops from the beaches at Dunkirk as part of Operation Dynamo during WWII.
A life-size image of the King George IV statue, made by late local sculptor Dominic Grant, will be on display and a ‘Big Top’ marquee will host the Royal Harbour 200 Gala Variety Show and a cabaret. There will be guided costumed walks, vintage vehicles, heritage talks, children's street party, a handmade fair and The Combined Bands of East Kent Sea Cadets.
As some events may change, please check for up to date information and other events taking place to celebrate the anniversary.
Ramsgate’s Maritime History - Did You Know?
- In 597 AD, St. Augustine landed at Ebbsfleet, Ramsgate marking the introduction of Christianity to this country. A Celtic stone cross marks the place where he celebrated the first mass when he arrived. St. Augustine went on to become the first Archbishop of Canterbury. His shrine can be seen at St. Augustine and Pugin: Shrine and Visitor Centre
St Augustine's Cross
St Augustine's Church
- Ramsgate is a member of the Confederation of Cinque Ports, a unique association of maritime towns and villages in Kent and East Sussex, believed to date back over 1000 years.
- Construction of the Royal Harbour started in the mid-18th century and finished approximately 100 years later. Much of the fine maritime architecture around the harbour - the main embarkation point for the Napoleonic Wars - still stands today.
- The Port was at the heart of WWII’s Operation Dynamo when the ‘little ships’ helped rescue troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. The town welcomed some 80,000 soldiers back from France. Find out more about Ramsgate during WWII at Ramsgate Tunnels, home to the UK’s largest network of civilian wartime tunnels. The tunnels were capable of sheltering 60,000 people in WWII. Guided tours bring the history of the tunnels into the 21st century.
- Augustus Pugin, designer of the interiors of the Houses of Parliament and leader of the Gothic Revival, built his house, The Grange looking out over the sea, and the beautiful St Augustine's Church alongside. Pugin would often keep an eye out for shipwrecks and save stranded seamen with his own ship, pocketing the salvage money!
The Grange Dining Room
Worthy of a visit
Ramsgate still provides a warm welcome to its visitors. Enjoy the thriving continental cafe culture along the waterfront, fine eateries serving local produce including seafoods, independent shops and quirky, small galleries, and the modern marina nestled next to an award winning beach.
The town is becoming increasingly well-known as a destination for an active break. Active Ramsgate showcases the attractive coastal location of Ramsgate through a range of inspiring walks, cycle routes, canoe and kayak trails, pickleball, tennis, golf and birdwatching tours.
Ramsgate boasts a variety of other guided and self-guided walks from which you can discover more about the town and its history. The darker side of the town’s past can be discovered on a guided Rotten Ramsgate Walk, or you can walk in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh with the ‘Following in the Footsteps of Vincent van Gogh’ leaflet. The artist stayed in a house in Spencer Square in 1876.
Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone in Ramsgate, in partnership with Ramsgate Festival of Sound and Ramsgate Radio, has just launched a podcast series uncovering the stories and lived experiences of the town and particularly its clifftop promenades and seafront. The podcasts are designed as ‘sonic trails / ‘sound walks’ with three episodes.
There’s plenty to see and do to justify a long weekend or short break and Ramsgate’s visitor accommodation ranges from stylish clifftop hotels with stunning sea views, quality guest houses and B&Bs, great value self-catering town-houses and cosy cottages to a family-run campsite. Find out more about quality places to stay in Ramsgate