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coastal town of Deal in East Kent
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DEAL - a town by the sea

Ask most people from outside the area where Deal is and the chances are you'll get a quizzical look and a shrug of the shoulders. Tucked away on the A258 out of Dover past where the White Cliffs fall away into St Margaret's Bay, you'll find Deal the small town that huddles by the English Channel.

In 1702 it was described as one of the four great ports of England, along with Portsmouth, Rochester and Plymouth. Back then the town was a vital stronghold in the defences of what became known as "the invasion coast".

Commanders, Captains, Admirals, Masters, Warrant Officers, Ratings, and Press Gangs, have all passed through its warren of nooks and crannies at one time or another. The town's notorious reputation as a haven for the 'midnight trade' of smuggling, rife in the 17th and 18th centuries has also played its part in creating Deal's rather 'unique and special' character.

Today, history sits lightly upon Deal, tucked away in a corner of SE England that modern tourism has largely overlooked. The town might be better known if it were situated in other, more fashionable, parts of the country. If, for example, Deal were somehow transported to Devon or Cornwall - where it would not look out of place - it would quickly become another tourist honey pot.

Deal is remarkable in being a port without a harbour, providing an historic anchorage, the Downs, for ships waiting for a change of wind to carry them through the channel, which runs between the shingle foreshore and the watery graveyard that is the Goodwin Sands.

These days, Deal is a peaceful town and an architectural jewel, with attractive narrow streets and fascinating buildings. Middle Street and its restored period houses and cottages were designated the first conservation area in Kent. The Timeball Tower, on the seafront, was built in 1821 as one of a chain carrying semaphore messages along the coast about the nasty doings of smugglers, and contains a display of marine communications. Deal Maritime & Local History Museum in St George's Road has a fascinating collection of boating paraphernalia and interesting prints from the glorious days of sail. And then of course there are the castles built by Henry V111 to defend the coast from the French.

Deal is a favourite spot among sea fishing folk who make the most of the town's pier. It's a delight on a sunny day to take a stroll along its deck, turn, and soak up the view of pretty houses that line the beachfront. At the head of the pier is the new award-winning Jasin's Restaurant - just one of Deal's fine eating places.

Perhaps the activity the area is most known for internationally is golf. The Royal Cinque Ports is a first rank course and is within walking distance of the town, located along the Saxon shoreline. Perhaps the most famous of the area's courses is The Royal St George's the home to the Open Championship on a number of occasions. The third course in the area is Prince's.

The town is well served by supermarkets but more interestingly you will still find speciality traders selling everything from fresh fish to duck eggs.

Property in Deal and the surrounding area is still amongst the best value for money in the South of England. That may change as Kent's high speed train link and increased services linking Deal to London begins to make a real difference to the county's transportation infrastructure.

For more details of what to see and do in Deal, see our Visitors' Information Links
This page was updated on January 5, 2015
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