A true mix of structural styles. Classic seaside architecture, charming squares and crescents, Georgian delights, and one-off curios in between, (we even have listed menagerie cages and a grotto lined with over 4.6 million shells!) the Isle of Thanet is loaded with marvellous architecture. There are approximately 2,500 listed buildings in Thanet; and 27 conservation areas.
Please remember to check with attractions directly before visiting for their opening times.
Before the bathing machines lined our golden sands, Thanet was rich in agricultural land and the remains of this ancient past can still be seen today. What’s left of this period notably are two Monastic Granges - Minster Abbey (near Ramsgate) and Salmestone Grange. The former was founded in 670 and after a Viking attack, was later rebuilt as a Monastic Grange in 1027.
Located next door to the Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex House is home to a unique collection of decorative arts and furniture assembled over 200 years.
The picturesque Tudor House (External Viewing only) (built around 1525) is arguably Margate’s oldest building after Salmestone Grange and is characterised by its beautiful contrasting black and white beams.
Sea bathing brought about a plethora of temporary structures- the modest bathing machines are long gone; except for the recent locally created run Haeckels Community Sauna at Walpole Bay yet after this boom we saw hotels, theatres, tea rooms and general places to hang your (sun) hat!
Margate is home to not one but two subterranean wonders. Journey into one of Kent’s biggest mysteries - The Shell Grotto, with walls covered by 4.6 million shells in images of gods and goddesses, trees of life and patterns. Is it a pagan grotto or an ornate regency folly, but with no definitive explanation or history, it is one big mystery. Margate Caves, a curious cavern with paintings and murals of an elephant, crocodile, soldiers and more.
ARK, Cliftonville Cultural Space, recently opened in the refurbished former Margate synagogue built in 1929 and retaining a number of original features including decorative stained glass windows and the ladies’ gallery. The building provides a resource for local people with an engaging cultural programme of talks, shows and events.
Ramsgate too had its fair share of Victorian influence. It was here that internationally renowned architect AWN Pugin decided to construct ‘The Grange,’ a house he called ‘My own child,’ which reflects his belief in gothic style as being the only true form of Christian Architecture. He was best known for his interiors of the Houses of Parliament and this vibrant, idiosyncratic style is echoed throughout The Grange.
Current owners The Landmark Trust has sympathetically restored the building and its interior designs. The ‘En Avant’ (onward/forward) wallpaper is the perfect motto to spur you on along a bracing clifftop walk. Nestled alongside this remarkable house is the ‘St Augustine and Pugin Visitor Centre and Shrine,‘ which celebrates the connection between Pugin himself, and St Augustine who landed in Thanet. The Church is built of knapped flint with Whitby stone dressings and fish slated tiled roofs. Pugin and his family architectural legacy can be seen throughout Ramsgate.
Broadstairs became popular during the late Georgian and Victorian period and its charming, wide promenade encapsulates this relaxed bygone era, encompassing leisurely coastal walks and chocolate-box views. Stunning grand listed structures such as ‘The Yarrow Building’ and Charles Dickens’ holiday home ‘Bleak House’ overlooking the traditional wooden pier, are mixed with classical cottages made of beach-scavenged chalk and flint, beach huts and smuggling tunnels.
Speaking of tunnels, our fair isle is built on top of a myriad of smuggling and war time tunnels. The latter you can visit in Ramsgate, on a tunnels explorer tour, that includes a Victorian Railway Tunnel, that provided shelter to over 60,000 people in WWII.
Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour is the only one in the country to be given this regal stature and its sparkling waters are adorned with yachts of all shapes and sizes. You’ll also find numerous fine examples of nautical buildings and red brick archways home to restaurants, bars and galleries.
Just a short walk from the harbour you’ll find the ethereal, domed Grade II* listed Italianate Glasshouse, covered with ornate fish scale glass, which is just one of a handful of ‘Montefiore’ heritage structures (Sir Moses Montefiore was a prominent philanthropist, financier and Jewish figure). The Montefiore Synagogue and Mausoleum, built by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1833 and the location of the tombs of him and his wife Lady Judith Montefiore.
At Dreamland, the aforementioned Grade II menagerie cages and Grade II* listed Scenic Railway are key architectural gems of the amusement park. The scenic railway is the oldest surviving roller coaster in Britain, second oldest in the whole of Europe and is amongst the five oldest in the entire world and you can even still ride it!
We hope you can sample and explore these and our many other remarkable architectural treasures - this is just the beginning! Enjoy. www.visitthanet.co.uk