by Janis on 10th January 2020 / 14 comments

Full of kiss-me-quick nostalgia and seafaring tales

It had been years since I’d last visited the seaside town of Ramsgate in Kent.

You’d think that as I’m a Kent dweller, I’d be visiting a bit more frequently. But so often is the way that we head further afield and miss those special treats on our doorstep.

With Ramsgate’s location being just a baguettes throw from France, it has some fascinating history, particularly around its nautical past. From the Napoleonic Wars to the Dunkirk evacuations during Operation Dynamo. Then mix that with a hearty helping of ice-cream and fish and chips, and you have a winning combination.

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An elegant Edwardian entrance to lift from the upper promenade to the lower promenade at Ramsgate. From here you have a view over the town's Harbour and is coastline.
East Cliff Lift in Ramsgate was built in 1910
Our recent visit to Ramsgate was on a bright December day, it didn’t quite include the ice-cream; however, fish and chips were certainly ‘catch of the day’.

Where is Ramsgate

How to get to Ramsgate

- By Train
You can catch a direct High-Speed train from London St Pancras International station to Ramsgate Station. Which takes around 1 hour 20 minutes, some may take longer so, check the timetable.

- By Car
It's only 20miles/35km from Dover, and 30miles/47km from Folkestone.  It's easy to get to from London, 80miles/127kms, but it make some time to get there and back.

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The Royal Harbour, Ramsgate

Granted the honour by King George IV in 1821
A little fact that makes Ramsgate unique is that it is the only Royal Harbour in the UK. It was granted this honour by King George IV in 1821.
Red brick terraces that lead up to the Royal temple Yacht Club. The red brick is very much feature of the harbourside.
Royal Temple Yacht Club
Prior to this in 1483 Ramsgate became part of the Cinque Ports confederation and was a limb of Sandwich. The Cinque Ports charter was established pre-Royal Navy in 13th-century, to recruit mariners. Ramsgate townsfolk would have been enlisted to fulfil Sandwich’s quota for the Crown.
A circular terracotta plaque with the insignia of the cinque ports which is half lion and half ship replicated 3 times on a shield.
Cinque Ports emblem

We have a new little book on our shelves that we delve into when we're heading to the coast.

Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different counties of England.  It tells tales of the history of the shoreline that surrounds our country.

Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves the English seaside.

I never knew that about Coastal England Cover

Around Ramsgate's harbour

Explore Ramsgate's nautical heart
I love it that Ramsgate is still a working harbour and the smaller modern-day yachts that are moored in the marina respect this fact. It’s a bustling harbour with locals coming and going, scrubbing decks and giving their boats an overhaul.
Small sailing boats in Ramsgate’s Marina resting on perfectly still water under a bright blue sky.
Ramsgate Harbour and SSMV Starbuck
One of the eye-catching aspects of Ramsgate is the sweeping red brick harbour wall and arches that lead up to the clifftop walk. The arches now form part of the community and are lovingly maintained. They provide a charming location to stop and enjoy the surroundings and perhaps even grab a cheeky beer.
An artisan cafe set within the red brick arches that line Ramsgate's Harbour front
Arches around Ramsgate Royal Harbour
We took a stroll around the harbour as there are so many noteworthy buildings and historical references. It reminds you just how much of a significant role Ramsgate has played in history.
The red brick Sailors Church & Mission at the harbours edge. In the Harbour you can see pair of lifeboats moored up, ready for action
The Sailors’ Church and Harbour Mission in Ramsgate
The Sailors’ Church and Harbour Mission that was built into the front of the cliff, was constructed in 1878. This place of worship was to provide rest to the men and boys who worked tirelessly in harsh conditions in the English Channel. So often risking their lives.

Visit some of Kent’s coastal towns

Kent is not short of picturesque historic towns, particularly along the Kentish coastline., and we have a collection of posts you may enjoy - why not check one out?

Operation Dynamo from Ramsgate

The 'little ships' depart for Dunkirk
During Operation Dynamo in 1940, flotillas of small boats headed over to France for the Dunkirk evacuations. Ramsgate was one of the main harbour towns that thousands of soldiers would have been so grateful to see.
A view of the ‘Sundowner’ boat moored in Ramsgate Harbour. This was one of the little boats used during the Dunkirk evacuations in the 2nd World War.
‘Sundowner’ used in the Dunkirk Evacuations in 1940
In Ramsgate harbour today you can see the ‘Sundowner’ one of the ‘little ships’ that crossed the Channel. This boat, in particular, was sailed by Charles Lightoller, the senior surviving officer of the Titanic. He managed to repatriate 130 British Servicemen on a boat licensed to carry 21.

Escape for a few days

Are you looking for that ‘perfick’ holiday hideaway to relax in while you discover the Garden of England?

After a day exploring the Kent coast and its many historic castles enjoy one of the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.

Explore Ramsgate's Tunnels

Discover a hidden secret

Strolling along Ramsgate’s award-winning golden sandy beach, you’ll come across Ramsgate Tunnels.

In 1863 a mile-long railway tunnel was built allowing the trains to reach the harbour.

Then as WWII approached this tunnel was extended to a two-and-a-half-mile network of Deep Shelter tunnels. Entrances were dotted around the town, and the air raid shelters provide protection for around 60,000 people.

The entrance to Ramsgate Tunnels carved into the soft chalk of the landscape that was once home to a railway line they run all the way onto the beach front.
Ramsgate Tunnels
There are stories of these tunnels becoming a permanent residence for some folk, to find out a little, come and pay a visit.

Good to know!

In 2014 part of the 150-year-old Ramsgate Tunnel network was opened to visitors, so you can go and take a peek for yourself.

Stroll around the lanes of Ramsgate

Discover Ramsgate's delightful architecture
Now, I have to be honest here, although Ramsgate is going through a process of rejuvenation, it hasn’t quite made it to the heart of the town centre. However, it is incredible that you only have to wander one or two streets back and you are surrounded by beautiful Regency, Victorian and Georgian buildings.
Another street in Ramsgate tucked around the corner with elegant homes the light Victorian era.
Guildford Lawn
Black iron railings around the front of a series of elegant terraced homes in Spencer Square Ramsgate
Spencer Square
All along the cliff walk and promenade are attractive homes with wide bay windows and wrought-iron balconies. All with far-reaching views across the English Channel.
An elegant parade of period houses that face the sea front. Each one has its own covered balcony giving excellent views of the coastline
Paragon Promenade
Visiting Ramsgate, you really understand why these English seaside towns were such an attraction during the 19th-century. Sweeping, majestic crescents where once ladies and gents would have promenaded.
A painted shop sign on the edge of a brick building for Pickfords furniture removals and storage.
Pickfords Removals
A view in Ramsgate of one of its many Victorian side streets. The focus is the Falstaff restaurant beautifully decorated in a Topaz blue.
The Falstaff along Addington Street
I just love strolling around the residential streets discovering the tiny lanes and finding those little reminders of eras gone by.

Tempted to?

Discover more of the Great British Isles, why not jump in a car and tour the country at your own pace. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

Discover Ramsgate's style and grandeur

Architecture to be cherished
Heading north around Ramsgate bay and the elegance continues, with more attractive homes and striking architecture. All around Albion Place, Wellington Crescent and Victoria Parade, there are some stunning buildings.
Ramsgate's bandstand in Wellington Crescent with the green glazed tiled roof above a cream tiled bandstand.
Wellington Crescent and bandstand
Ramsgate can also boast architectural designs by A W Pugin and his sons. St. Augustine’s Church and Granville House are wonderful examples of their work. A W Pugin designed many buildings around the UK, none more famous than the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben.

Where to stay in Ramsgate

- The Royal Harbour Hotel - Located within three Georgian townhouses, this hotel offers unique and charmingly decorated rooms. The views across the harbour are incredible.

- The Oak Hotel - This comfortable hotel overlooks Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour and just a short stroll to the golden sandy beach.

A beautifully ornate shelter with the bench in front of the Edwardian Granville house. Both offer excellent coastal views.
Granville House

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Kent's Strangest Tales Cover

So many Blue Plaques to discover in Ramsgate

In the footsteps of Van Gogh, Darwin and HRH Princess Victoria
Ramsgate certainly has its fair share of Blue Plaques, two of which relate to Vincent Van Gogh. He moved to Ramsgate in April 1876 and was a supply teacher in a small boarding school in Royal Road.
An elegant terraced home Spencer square that was once home to the artist Vincent Van Gough. A blue plaque on the wall tells you he lived here in 1876.
Vincent Van Gogh’s residence
A blue plaque to the artist Vincent van Gough who taught at this site in 1876.
Vincent Van Gogh’s taught here

I do love how tenuous some of the plaques can be. Charles Darwin stayed in Ramsgate in 1850, also Wilkie Collins, the novelist in the 1870s and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the English poet in 1830s.
 
Although possibly the most famous of them all is HRH Princess Victoria who resided in Albion Place between September 1835 to January 1836.

Have a peek at the latest offers from Booking.com, our preferred hotel booking website.
Booking.com
A blue plaque from the Ramsgate Society to Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria who stayed here from September 1835 to January 1836
HRH Princess Victoria resided in Ramsgate

Find out more

Head to the Visit Ramsgate website and start planning your seaside adventure. More on what to do, where to stay and further local history. Another site I found very useful is Ramsgate Town full of local knowledge and up to date activities in Ramsgate.  If you want to know more about the county, then try Visit Kent.

Only one way to finish a day at Ramsgate

I'll have cod please!
Gary and I had a lovely day strolling around Ramsgate and as we headed back along the seafront who couldn’t help ourselves and popped into Peter’s Fish Factory.
The entrance to Ramsgate Tunnels carved into the soft chalk of the landscape that was once home to a railway line they run all the way onto the beach front.
Peter’s Fish Factory
If you’re nearby Ramsgate at Christmas time head to the Royal Harbour, as lots of the little boats are decorated for the festive season.
Ramsgate’s harbour at night in the run up to Christmas with the masts of the boats decorated with twinkling lights.
Ramsgate Royal Harbour at Christmas

Map out your route

Whether you’re planning a road trip, plotting a hiking route or cycling one of UK’s scenic trails, there’s nothing quite like using a tactile paper map.

The Ordnance Survey folk are here to help, with maps, guides, gadgets and more. Take a browse through their vast array of maps and grab your ideal companion for your adventure.

Our YouTube video of Ramsgate

We have created a little YouTube video of Ramsgate. Why not take a look?

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

  1. I love a good harbor town, especially one with history. Ramsgate sounds like a great one to visit. #farawayfiles

    1. Author

      Yes, it really has some interesting history and the mixture of architecture throughout Ramsgate is incredible too.

  2. Well that was a surprise! Fascinating to learn about Ramsgate. The harbour, with the surrounding buildings, reminds me of Honfleur in Normandy. I love those houses in Guilford Lawn – gorgeous design. #farawayfiles

    1. Author

      Yes, it does remind me a bit of Honfleur and It is amazing how much history it has. The Guildford Lawn was quite quaint, it great when you come across some streets that really surprise you.

  3. Took my (not British) husband to Ramsgate once. He was utterly fascinated, and still talks about the weird British food we had in what I want to describe as a caff. Some kind of stodgy pudding and custard. It was very nice though! Just like Ramsgate.

    1. Author

      Ahh fantastic, its great that you still chat about it. I love it when a funny moment happens on your travels and it always brings back memories.
      Mmmm, most puddings are great with custard.

  4. I LOVE the photo of the East Cliff Lift – would be marvelous blown up and framed. I can definitely see pictures the parasols and pretty dresses of days gone by parading down those charming lanes. Trying to process how 130 men could have fit on that little Sundowner though! Thank you for sharing this lovely corner of the world – I do love a little seaside town and ALWAYS try to sample the local fish when there. Yum. Cheers from this side of the sea. #FarawayFiles

    1. Author

      Thanks Erin

      I’m the same when I stroll around the lanes and along the promenades, you just try and imagine what life would have been like then.

      It’s unbelievable about the Sundowner boat, and thankfully so many others like it did the same.

  5. What a perfect place for a day trip in the winter. The seaside is always ideal for blowing away the cobwebs and I do love a stroll beside a harbour. I’m really enjoying your posts about Kent’s seaside towns. It’s good to be reminded about the great places to visit closer to home. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    1. Author

      It is incredible how many attractive towns there are around the Kent coast, we seem to be discovering more and more. With Kent being so close to mainland Europe, it holds so much ancient history.

  6. Lovely video of our town thank you.
    The only shame is that you couldn’t include the grade 2 listed Winterstoke Gardens and chine, these rock gardens are just a short walk along from the Granville to King George V1 park. The gardens are now maintained by volunteers and are a wonderful part of Ramsgate.

    1. Author

      Thanks Dave, we live in Kent so we’re often around the coastline. We’ll definitely take a stroll along that part of Ramsgate next time as the clifftop walk to Broadstairs looks amazing. You never know it may appear in another video.

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