The Castle by the Sea

Published June 1949

A castle by the sea. One that has seen the slow passage of many centuries. Not a ruined crumbling castle, with broken, crumbling walls, but one that stands like an imperishable rock on green and alluring Tankerton hill.

It started as a tower from which watch was kept over sea and land for approaching foes. At night its beacon fires gave warning of danger to those on guard at other defence posts along the coast. English homes and the lives of those in them were always in dire peril of destruction and attack from piratical enemies.

In warding of that peril, through long years, the men of Kent who kept ceaseless from the tower on Tankerton hill played a great part. Thee tower was also used for another purpose. On it were kept burning the navigation lights that guided passing ships safely on their way.

As time passed the tower became a castle lived in by successive lords of the Manor. In 1792 it was used as a summer residence by Charles Pearson, who in that year purchased the property from Viscount Lord Bolingbroke. Wynn Ellis, who cam to Whitstable in1935, lived at the castle for many years. His collection of pictures by famous artists were shown there. One of them was the painting by Gainsborough of the Duchess of Devonshire which, sold to Messrs. Agnew, the picture dealers, was stolen their Bond Street gallery during the night of May 26th, 1976, and taken to America, where it remained at Chicago until 1901. Returned to its lawful owners, it was sold by them to the late Pierpoint Morgan, and is now in an American art gallery.

On the death of Wynn Ellis, in 1875, the Tankerton Castle estate passed to Miss Susan Alinda Lloyd, who lived their until her death in 1884. The next resident was the Rev. Arthur Conrad Graystone, who died in 1886, when the estate came into the possession of Mr. S.W. Graystone, who sold it in 1890 to Mr. C. Newton Robinson for £22,000.

Then it was taken over by “The Tankerton Estate Company, Ltd.,” a land development organisation. Living there for a few moths was the late Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, the celebrated playwright. His successor was Mr. Adams, who bought the house and grounds, and whose widow made it her residence until 1920.

Acquired by Mr. Mallandain, who made extensive additions to the building, the Castle and its beautiful grounds were sold by him in 1935 to the Whitstable Urban District Council for the small sum of £10,500 for the use of the public. There was considerable opposition to the proposed sale by local ratepayers but, fortunately for the community, it was carried through. Mr. and Mrs. Mallandain still remain staunch friends of Whitstable and great benefactors to the Almshouses, frequently coming from London to visit the old people. Ever since the Castle was bought by the town it has been the chief point of attraction for countless numbers of visitors who, passing under the shadow of the grey, old Tower, enter the lovely grounds where there is so much to charm and entertain them.

These grounds, with their tree shaded walks, green lawns and bright flower gardens, are not surpassed in beauty at any other seaside resort on the coast. In the summer months they are always crowded with visitors and residents, who can sit and listen to the music of bands and take part in the dancing that is such a popular form of recreation for most people these days.

More entertainment than ever will be provided for them this year. Sandy Sandford, the recently appointed Resident Entertainer, has for several weeks been making extensive plans for the entertainment of visitors to “The Pleasure Garden” at the Castle Grounds. His workmen have been busy under his supervision for weeks past making preparations for the opening of the season. Everything possible has been and is being done to transform the site chosen for the garden into a place where thousands of happy people will be able to enjoy themselves.

On the wide, open space where there is amply room for over 700 dancers, 52 dances, including 16 olde tyme dances, have already been arranged for. On a specially constructed stage, there will be 28 hourly shows for children of Punch and Judy, magic and ventriloquism. 12 Sunday evening concerts, in one of which the well-known B.B.C. violinist, Tom Jenkins, is expected to take part are on the programme.

There will be a baby show, a dog show, races for model cars, ballroom dancing contests, singing and talent competitions, and a big variety of other entertainments of the most popular type. Hundred of coloured lights will turn the garden at night into a veritable fairyland. The electric light installation is being carried out by experts who know how to make the utmost use of them.

After negotiating for several weeks with the B.B.C., Sandy Sandford, who has himself made 54 successful broadcasts for the B.B.C., is nearing the settlement of a plan for a broadcast from Whitstable some time in the summer in the B.B.C. Sunday programme “Down your Way.” He is also endeavouring to arrange a broadcast from “The Pleasure Garden” during the season.

At newly erected refreshment kiosks, visitors to the garden will be provided with all they need in the shape of light refreshments, and there will be shelters for use in rainy weather.

Ernest Brindle.

Another Whitstable Trade

This is the title of an article that Charles Dickens penned in 1860. It begins, “If it had not fallen to the lot of Whitstable to be celebrated for its oysters and its company of free dredgers, it might have claimed a word of notice for producing that rarest of all workmen, the sea diver.”

Dickens, who had reputedly stayed at the King’s Head pub in Island Wall and conversed in depth with the divers, went on to describe the work they carried out, some of it in gruesome detail.

In subsequent research I was often referred to a local story about brothers Charles and John Deane visiting a farm in Seasalter when the barn, housing horses, caught alight. A fire engine arrived, but the firemen could not get through the smoke. Charles, wearing a fireman’s helmet on his head and with a pipe from the now empty water-pump feeding air into it, was able to get through the smoke and free the horses.

A tale from the past that might have some basis, but it is a fact that in 1823 Charles Deane patented a smoke helmet and air pump for firemen. He and his brother tried to sell this to the Insurance companies that owned most of the country’s fire engines, but with little success.

The Deane’s worked with locals who were involved in salvaging using a diving bell and became convinced that this helmet with a suit could be developed for use under water. They spent much of 1827 and 1828 on the suit until they had a successful prototype ready in 1829.

Gradually, together with help from local seamen, the Deane’s developed new salvaging techniques and made a name for themselves in successful salvage operations.

Their big break came in 1834. The Deane’s and their team discovered and salvaged the Enterprise, a slave ship that had foundered near Copeland Island off Ireland in 1803 with £200,000 of silver dollars, the proceeds from the sale of slaves in America. With their share of the £24,000 they recovered, John Deane bought his first boat, John Gann built Copeland Cottages, now Dollar Row, in Island Wall, Thomas Gann built Copeland House at the end of the row and William Wood built the Diver’s Arms in Herne Bay. Later John merged two of the cottages to form the King’s Head pub which became the diver’s meeting place. The stores for the divers equipment is the house now known as Stag Cottage, in Sea Wall.

In 1836, whilst salvaging the Royal George off Portsmouth, John Deane and his new partner William Edwards, heard of an unknown shipwreck close by. John investigated and discovered the Mary Rose, which had sunk in 1545. He salvaged many guns, an anchor, a 15-foot section of the main mast and some skulls during the time he continued with this operation, but as much of the ship was under the sea-bed it was eventually left to become lost once again.

By this time the Whitstable divers were renowned the world over and for the next 90 years whenever there was a shipwreck the Whitstable divers were called for, including by the Navy during the Crimean War.

Many of these facts were passed to me by Dr. John Bevan, the chairman of the Historic Diving Society, when I first met him at their display during Harbour Day 2004. At that time he was researching for his book about the history of the diving industry.

I met John Bevan again in November 2009 at Whitstable Museum when the 436 paged book was launched, now the definitive history of the industry. He had given it the only title he could; Another Whitstable Trade.

Peggotty House

Before you read on,  understand that this is an opinion article based on historical fact and a love of Whitstable which encompasses all of its parishes.

In one of my Whitstable Times history articles in 2013 and expanded on in a talk to a Women’s Institute meeting, I used the phrase that some supermarkets like to

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A short update on Seasalter

A short update on Seasalter.

It’s pleasing to find some people moving into an area then starting to take an interest in their new surroundings as this is the beginning of integrating into a community. This article was put together to give an understanding of the history of Seasalter as a parish in its own right

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Time Travel Tourist Information Exhibition

I shall be assisting in this exhibition which will take place at the Horsebridge Centre in Whitstable, from 12th to 27th January 2013, 9am-6pm daily.

The Horsebridge Centre’s will be transformed into a Time Travel Tourist Information Centre from 12th – 27th January 2013 as part of an art installation by artist Alexis K Johnson in

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Dave Lee MBE

Dave Lee MBE

It was the summer of 1969 when I first met Dave Legge. Dave worked as a washing machine engineer for the same company that my father worked for as a TV engineer. My father, in an effort to increase his income, purchased two ice-cream vans and Dave helped him out as a driver

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Whitstable in 1907

I bought a map and it arrived today. A map of Whitstable from a survey in 1872, with additions to 1906 and printed in 1907. At a scale of 25 inches to one mile it’s a bit on the large size for scanning at around 40 inches by 30 inches so I guess it will

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A new car for the New Year

We start 2012 off with a Whitstable Times picture from exactly 50 years ago.

Ford Anglia – I bet these guys thought they had reached the pinnacle of their jobs with these.

Fifty years on: Garage gone, Arthur Collar Ltd gone, Rover gone. Residential flats now where this picture was taken – Tankerton Road, to

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Bullet relics from Seasalter mud-flats

I was fortunate to be able to purchase these from David Rawkins to ensure they stayed in Whitstable. David collected these in his youth between 1947 and 1953. The collection consists of 40 expended bullets of various calibres (30 lead and 10 with other metal jackets) plus 3 lead bullets which have impacted robustly and

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Another Whitstable Trade - by John Bevan pt.1

Another Whitstable Trade by John Bevan

Today I had the great pleasure of meeting up once again with Dr. John Bevan of the Historical Diving Society. The occasion was the Whitstable launch, at Whitstable Museum, of his new illustrated book of helmet diving history, very appropriately named “Another Whitstable Trade” – the title Charles Dickens

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Oystertown goes Green

As you explore Whitstable from the past you soon realise that the early industries here, particularly the Oyster fisheries, were extremely efficient in terms of usage of natural resources – so much so that today they would have been regarded as examples of Green management (no pun intended) at its best.

Oysters themselves help purify the

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