South Foreland Lighthouse
In Charles Dickens' novel, DAVID COPPERFIELD, the young David arrives in Dover, looking for his great aunt, and one of the more outrageous suggestions put to him is that she 'lived in the South Foreland Light, and had singed her whiskers by doing so'. The Lighthouse had been built in 1843, six years before DAVID COPPERFIELD was published, and was obviously already a well-known local landmark. David eventually finds his great aunt, Miss Betsey Trotwood, by climbing the heights and carrying on to 'some houses facing the sea'. This must be St Margaret's and here David spends many happy years in his aunt's 'neat little cottage', flying kites and helping her chase the donkeys off the green.
In 1945, Noel Coward took the lease of the beachside house, 'White Cliffs', which was to be his weekend retreat for the next six years. His diary entries convey his delight in his new home. 'Another perfect day at White Cliffs. I don't think I can fail to be happy there', he writes on 16th September 1945.
Coward spent his time writing and painting and entertaining such well-known friends as John Mills and Ivor Novello. But the very delights of living by the sea proved too much of a distraction and, regretfully, Coward decided to leave the house in 1951. 'I shall miss the sea and the ships...White Cliffs has given me immense pleasure but I have never worked really well here...there is something curiously distracting about it; someone crunches by on the beach or a big ship passes and one's concentration snaps.'
(DIARY 2nd July 1951)
When Coward left White Cliffs, Ian Fleming moved in, and so the house continued its literary associations.