Deal in Kent – A Town Full of History

Official Deal Tourist information number : 01304 369576

Early History

Deal gradually grew from a small fishing village and by the end of the 13th century, Deal was an important port.

Deal is a town in Kent, England with a history dating back to the medieval period. During the 16th century, Deal was a major port for shipping and a center for shipbuilding.

Deal is mentioned as a village in the Domesday book but archaeological evidence suggests its history stretches back much further. Julius Caesar is said to have landed on the Deal-Walmer coast in 55 and 54BC.

In the 17th century, it was a popular destination for smugglers and privateers.

In the 19th century, Deal became a popular seaside resort for the wealthy and by the 20th century it was a thriving commercial center with a bustling fishing industry.

During World War II, Deal was heavily bombed and much of the town was destroyed, especially around the railway lines and major infrastructure.

However, it was rebuilt and today it is a bustling coastal town with a rich history and heritage.

3 Tudor Castles

Sandown (of which only a few stones remain), Deal and Walmer castles were all built along the Deal coast in 1539-1542 by Henry VIII because of the threat of invasion by France and Spain. Their rounded walls were designed to resist cannon fire. When viewed from above they resemble the Tudor rose. Both Deal and Walmer castles are open to the public.

Walmer castle is the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

William Pitt the Younger lived here with his niece Lady Hester Stanhope. She acted as his society hostess and was responsible for much of the original layout of the gardens.

After his death, she became the most famous woman traveller of the age. Sometimes dressed as a man, she travelled in the middle east and even crossed the Syrian desert. Her biography by Kirsten Ellis charts her rollercoaster life in vivid detail.

Other notable Lord Wardens include the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. All have left their mark and mementoes from their time are on show, including Wellington’s boots!

To learn more about Deal and Walmer castles go to our ‘Castles’ page.

Borough & Market Town Status

Deal was granted borough and market town status by King William III in October 1699. Deal market has moved from its original location in Market Street but is still going strong over 300 years later at Union Road.

The mayors of Deal still wear black ribbons/rosettes at Cinque Port events as a mark of respect for the mayor of Sandwich who was killed in an attack by 4,000 men from Honfleur, France in 1457.

Click here for Deal’s later history and its links with smuggling.

Deal’s Historic Walking Tour

Learn more about Deal’s fascinating history with The History Project’s walking tour. 

These engaging tours are filled with interesting stories about Deal’s past and its famous and infamous residents. Fun for all the family.

Click here for more information.

Ripple Windmill

Another slice of Deal history is now open to the public. Following a lengthy restoration, Ripple Windmill is now back in working order and open on selected days. The history of milling on this site dates back to at least 1695.

Visit Ripple Windmill to find out about the checkered history of the current mill and how it helped keep sailors safe from the Goodwin Sands.