White Cliffs of Dover

Famous in White Cliffs Country

Our list of famous visitors and residents reads like an historical Hello! From Henry Vlll who gave us three castles to the Duke of Wellington, hero of the Battle of Waterloo. Within the walls of Dover Castle, Churchill masterminded World War ll strategy and Lord Nelson visited Lady Hamilton in Deal just along the sea front from Deal Castle.

Louis Bleriot

The first person to fly the English Channel in an aeroplane was a Frenchman called Louis Bleriot. The flight took place on 25 July 1909 and won Bleriot a prize of £1,000 from the Daily Mail. An earlier attempt five days earlier, by Englishman Herbert Latham, had ended when he had ditched in the sea.

A memorial in the form of a stone silhouette of Bleriot’s plane is set into the ground at the place where he landed.

Captain Matthew Webb

The first person to swim the English Channel on 24 August 1875, diving from the Admiralty Pier a few seconds before 1 pm and reaching Calais at 10:41 am the next day. He had been in the water for nearly 22 hours and had swum 40 miles rather than 22, having been carried off course by strong currents.

Charles Dickens

He stayed in Dover on a number of occasions and also made frequent trips through the port on his way to the Continent, often staying at the Lord Warden Hotel.

Although he didn’t find Dover entirely to his liking, writing to Mary Boyle on 22 July 1852 from Dover he said:

“My Dear Mary, you do scant justice to Dover. It is not quite to my taste, being too bandy (I mean musical; no reference to its legs) and infinitely too genteel. But the sea is very fine, and the walks are quite remarkable”

Thomas Tallis

(1505 - 1585) was an English composer during the Renaissance Period in music.

The first record of Tallis dates from 1532, as organist of Dover Priory, a small Benedictine monastery consisting of about a dozen monks.

Duke of Wellington

1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), hero of the Battle of Waterloo, became Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle in January 1829. He held the post of Lord Warden for 23 years at Walmer Castle and died there on the 14th September 1852 in his campaign chair. His famous wellington boots can be seen at Walmer Castle & Gardens.

Charles II

King Charles II arrived in Dover in 1660 on his way to London to secure the throne after the restoration of the Monarchy. Ten years later he signed a secret treaty at Dover Castle which was negotiated with the French King Louis XIV.

Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I visited Dover on 14 July 1573 on her progress through Kent.

It is likely that the Queen stayed at Dover Castle before proceeding onto Sandwich.

Henry VIII

King Henry VIII had a long connection with Dover and Deal, and held the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle before he became King.

Henry had a chain of castles built along the south coast to protect the country from French or Spanish invasion. Deal Castle was one of the first and largest castles to be built, followed by Walmer and Sandown castles.

Victoria & Albert

On 14 November 1842, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria visited Dover while staying as guests of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Only short notice of the visit was given but there was sufficient time to decorate the town with a considerable number of flags.

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

During World War ll, Dover Castle was an important command centre, with Naval operations being run from a secret underground headquarters deep in the chalk cliffs below the castle. From here Admiral Ramsay organised the evacuation of Dunkirk, where 338,226 British and allied soldiers were brought back to Britain.

On completion of this great achievement Ramsay reported on the operation to the King in person, and was rewarded by the honour of the K.C.B. from the King.

Charles Rolls

On 2 June 1910, the Hon. Charles Rolls, co-founder of the Rolls-Royce Company, made his historic flight from Dover to France and back without landing.

The flight, of about sixty miles, won him the Ruinart Cup presented by a French champagne company.

Matthew Arnold

Victorian poet, he brought his new wife in 1851 to Dover. They stayed one night before setting off for their honeymoon on the continent. He wrote a poem that night, DOVER BEACH.

Ian Fleming

Fleming’s connections with White Cliffs Country began in the early 1930s when, as a founder member of a small dining club ‘Cercle’ made up of old Etonian friends, he spent weekends playing golf at the Royal St Georges course at Sandwich.

In two of Fleming’s books part of the story is set in this part of Kent. Moonraker, written in 1955, is largely based in St Margaret’s and Kingsdown. Goldfinger, written in1959, features the ‘Royal St. Marks’, otherwise known as the Royal St. Georges golf links at Sandwich. The landscapes and buildings Fleming described are real places which he knew and visited, many of which can still be seen today.

Norman Wisdom

After a period in a children's home in Deal, Kent, Wisdom ran away when he was 11, but returned to become an errand boy with a grocery store on leaving school at 13.

He had a long and varied film career, often returning to visit the town.

Charles Hawtrey

Hawtrey retired to Deal in Kent in the 1980s, where he was recognised as a colourful and eccentric figure. His former house in Middle Street, is marked with a blue plaque.

Lord Nelson

He had associations with Deal and in 1801 he commented that “Deal must be the coldest place in England, most assuredly”.

Lord Horatio Nelson is known to have had a long and close relationship with Lady Hamilton. They often stayed at The Royal Hotel in Deal.

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809

Thomas Paine moved to Sandwich in 1759. He lived in a small house in New Street, where he practised his trade as a master stay-maker. He is still remembered in Sandwich and a blue plaque marks the house where he lived.

The Earl of Sandwich & the Sandwich

The word 'sandwich' for an item of food was possibly named after John Montagu who was the 4th Earl of Sandwich. It is said that in approximately 1762, he asked for meat to be served between slices of bread, to avoid interrupting a gambling game.

The family of the Earls of Sandwich has no real connection to the town itself, only the title. The fleet he was commanding in 1660 was lying off Sandwich, before it sailed to bring back Charles II to England.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was a frequent visitor to Goodnestone Park in the 1790s and early years of the 19th century. Her eldest brother, Edward, had married Elizabeth, one of the daughters of the house, and the couple began their married life at nearby Rowling. Elizabeth's widowed mother lived at the Dower House - Goodnestone Farm. Jane Austen wrote several letters from here.