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Deal seafront.jpg
Deal is located in Kent
Deal shown within Kent
Population 30,085 (2011 census Deal Urban Area)
OS grid reference TR375525
• London 83.9mi
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DEAL
Postcode district CT14
Dialling code 01304
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament

Deal is a town in Kent, England which lies on the English Channel, eight miles north-east of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate. It is a former fishing, mining and garrison town. Close to Deal is Walmer, a possible location for Julius Caesar's first arrival in Britain.

Deal became a 'limb port' of the Cinque Ports in 1278 and grew into the busiest port in England; today it is a seaside resort, its quaint streets and houses are a reminder of its history along with many ancient buildings and monuments. In 1968, Middle Street was the first Conservation Area in Kent.[1] The coast of France is approximately twenty-five miles from the town and is visible on clear days. The Tudor Deal Castle, commissioned by King Henry VIII, has a rose floor plan.


Deal is first mentioned as a village in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Addelam. It is referred to as Dela in 1158, and Dale in 1275. The name is the Old English dael meaning 'valley', cognate with the modern English 'dale'.[2] Deal developed into a port by the end of the 13th century. Sandown, Deal and Walmer castles were constructed around the town by Henry VIII to protect against foreign naval attack. In 1861 a Royal Marines Depot was established in the town.

Maritime history

The proximity of Deal's shoreline to the notorious Goodwin Sands has made its coastal waters a source of both shelter and danger through the history of sea travel in British waters. The Downs, the water between the town and the sands, provides a naturally sheltered anchorage. This meant that, despite the absence of a harbour, the town became a significant port (both for merchant ships and for the Royal Navy) with transit of goods and people from ship to shore conducted using smaller tender craft. Deal was, for example, visited by Nelson and was the first English soil on which James Cook set foot in 1771 on returning from his first voyage to Australia. The anchorage is still used today by international and regional shipping, though on a scale far smaller than in former times (some historical accounts report hundreds of ships being visible from the beach).

In 1672, a small Naval Yard was established at Deal, providing stores and minor repair facilities.[3] On the site of the yard there is now a building originally used as a semaphore tower linked to London, and later used as a coastguard house, then as a timeball tower, which remains today as a museum of time and communication.

The Deal Maritime and Local History Museum is housed in an historic complex of light-industrial buildings in St George's Road, dating from 1803. It contains a series of displays and artefacts, narrating the town's maritime, industrial, domestic and leisure history.[4]


By the time Dickens came to Deal it had been largely forgotten how the government of 1784, under Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, ensured that the Deal boats were all set ablaze, suspecting some of the Deal luggers of being engaged in smuggling. Pitt had awaited an opportunity that January, when the boats were all 'hoved up' on the beach on account of bad weather, to send a regiment of soldiers to smash and burn them. A naval cutter was positioned offshore to prevent any of the boatmen escaping.

The boatmen's ancestors had the right, under charter, freely to import goods in return for their services as Cinque Port men in providing what had been long recognised as the sole naval defence of the realm. These men continued to risk their lives and their boats, in saving the lives of shipwreck victims. The irrepressible spirit of the Deal boatmen remained undaunted by these events throughout the Napoleonic Wars, and they continued to assert their hard-earned right to trade. From these activities news of the events unfolding in France would reach England quickly and regularly, with about 400 men making a living off Deal beach at that time. The war only made the boatmen’s efforts more profitable, so that afterwards the Government immediately turned a part of its naval blockade into a coastal blockade, which lasted from 1818 to 1831.

Naval and Military

The Navy Yard

A Naval storehouse was built in Deal in 1672, providing for ships anchored in the Downs. In time, the establishment grew to cover some five acres of land, to the north of the castle. There was also a Victualling Yard on site. In contrast to other naval yards, there was no place for ships to dock alongside at Deal, so instead a number of small supply boats were maintained at the yard; these would be launched from the shingle beach, carrying supplies, provisions, personnel or equipment as required. The Yard closed in 1864.[5]

The barracks

The Royal Marines Depot, Deal were constructed shortly after the outbreak of the French Revolution. They originally consisted of adjacent cavalry and infantry barracks (later known as South Barracks), alongside which were separate hospitals for the Army and Navy. In due course the hospitals were also turned into barracks (known as North Barracks and East Barracks respectively). From 1861 the complex served as a sizeable Depot for the Royal Marines; latterly it was known in particular for the Royal Marines School of Music, which had moved there in 1930.[6]



The 1957 Deal Pier

The seafront at Deal has been adorned with three separate piers in the town's history. The first, built in 1838, was designed by Sir John Rennie. After its wooden structure was destroyed in an 1857 gale, it was replaced by an iron pier in 1864. A popular pleasure pier, it survived until the Second World War, when it was struck and severely damaged by a mined Dutch ship, the Nora, in January 1940. This was not the first time the pier had been hit by shipping, with previous impacts in 1873 and 1884 necessitating extensive repairs.

The present pier, designed by Sir W. Halcrow & Partners, was opened on 19 November 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh. Constructed predominantly from concrete-clad steel, it is 1026 ft (311 m) in length (a notice announces that it is the same length as the RMS Titanic, but that ship was just 882 feet in length), and ends in a three-tiered pier-head, featuring a cafe, bar, lounge, and fishing decks. The lowest of the three tiers is underwater at all but the lowest part of the tidal range, and has become disused. The pier is a popular sport fishing venue.

Deal's current pier is the last remaining fully intact leisure pier in Kent and is a Grade II listed building.[7] Its structure was extensively refurbished and repaired in 1997, with work including the replacement of much of the concrete cladding on the pier's main piles. Work began in April 2008 to construct a new pier-head with a modern restaurant, with the restaurant opened in December 2008.


Deal has several museums; all are related to Deal's maritime history. Both Deal Castle and Walmer Castle are operated by English Heritage - Deal has a display on the events in the reign of Henry VIII that led to the invasion threat which caused its construction, along with some material on its subsequent history, whereas displays at Walmer concentrate on Walmer's post-Tudor role as the Lord Warden's residence. There is also a ruin of the third Tudor castle, Sandown Castle, in North Deal. The Deal Maritime and Local History Museum has exhibits of boats, smuggler galleys and model naval ships. It also contains extensive histories of the lifeboats as well as local parish registers. The Timeball Tower Museum, on the other hand, focuses on the importance of timekeeping for ships, and the role the building it occupies played.

Notable references

Diarist Samuel Pepys recorded several visits to the town, being moved on 30 April 1660 to describe it as "pitiful".[8]

Deal was notorious in the 17th century as a location for smugglers, and Daniel Defoe wrote of the town:

If I had any satire left to write,
Could I with suited spleen indite,
My verse should blast that fatal town,
And drown’d sailors’ widows pull it down;
No footsteps of it should appear,
And ships no more cast anchor there.
The barbarous hated name of Deal shou’d die,
Or be a term of infamy;
And till that’s done, the town will stand
A just reproach to all the land

William Cobbett passing through in September 1823 noted in his book Rural Rides:

Deal is a most villainous place. It is full of filthy-looking people. Great desolation of abomination has been going on here; tremendous barracks, partly pulled down and partly tumbling down, and partly occupied by soldiers. Everything seems upon the perish. I was glad to hurry along through it, and to leave its inns and public-houses to be occupied by the tarred, and trowsered, and blue and buff crew whose very vicinage I always detest.

In fiction

Dickens, who had visited the town, had Richard Carstone garrisoned here in Bleak House,[9] so that Woodcourt and Esther's paths can cross when Woodcourt's ship happens to anchor in the Downs at the same time as Esther and Charley are visiting Richard:

At last we came into the narrow streets of Deal, and very gloomy they were upon a raw misty morning. The long flat beach, with its little irregular houses, wooden and brick, and its litter of capstans, and great boats, and sheds, and bare upright poles with tackle and blocks, and loose gravelly waste places overgrown with grass and weeds, wore as dull an appearance as any place I ever saw.

Deal is the setting for local novelist George Chittenden's smuggling saga, which is set in the late 18th century when the town was a haven for criminal gangs smuggling contraband across the English Channel. In Chittenden's debut The Boy Who Led Them a child rises through the ranks to control the biggest smuggling gang on the Kent coast, fighting wars with rival gangs and revenue men at every turn.[10]

In Chittenden's next book The Boy Who Felt No Pain he takes the reader on a journey back to the dangerous coastal town of Deal, fleshing out the back story of main characters from the first novel whilst also raising some interesting new questions.[11]

In Jane Austen's Persuasion,[12] the town is mentioned as the only place where Admiral Croft's wife Sophia Croft was ever ill, as it was the only place she was ever separated from him, whilst he was patrolling the North Sea.

  • A renamed Deal served as the setting for the William Horwood book The Boy With No Shoes.[13] It is also the setting for part of his earlier novel The Stonor Eagles.
  • It is the (renamed) setting of Frances Fyfield's crime novel Undercurrents.[14]
  • It is the setting for David Donachie's book A Hanging Matter, a murder and nautical mystery.[15]
  • North & South Deal were swapped round in the semi-autobiographical novel The Pier by Rayner Heppenstall.
  • Deal features briefly in H. G. Wells The War of the Worlds.
  • Deal is mentioned as the destination for a Marine recruit from Edinburgh in the novel Guns of Evening by Ronald Bassett. "What's Deal?" the recruit replies having never heard of it.
  • Deal is the setting for Ian Fleming's 1955 James Bond book Moonraker. Villain Hugo Drax has built his Moonraker rocket just outside Deal, where Bond has to go and investigate a murdered undercover operative.
  • Characters in the Aubrey-Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian frequently stay in Deal waiting for their ship to be ordered to sea.
  • Horatio Hornblower (in The Commodore, by C. S. Forester) departs from Deal on his voyage to the Baltic.

Local media


Deal has one paid for newspaper, the East Kent Mercury, published by the KM Group.


The local radio station for Deal is KMFM Shepway and White Cliffs Country. Deal is also served by the county-wide stations Heart, Gold and BBC Radio Kent. Deal Community Radio[16] is an online radio station with music, interviews and information on upcoming activities at The Astor Community Theatre along with the latest news from around Kent.

Sport and Leisure

Deal has a Non-League football club Deal Town F.C., which plays at The Charles Sports Ground.

The Rugby Club, Deal & Betteshanger Lions plays at the old RM Drill Field off Canada Rd.

There is a Farmer’s Market on Wednesday which sells local produce, as well as a long-running market on Saturday. The town has an independent retail sector in the North End of Deal High Street, and a number of chains on the High Street, though there are some retail voids.

The Astor Theatre in Deal offers musical performances, live theatre, exhibitions, movies, classes and clubs, and more.

Deal, used to have two cinemas up until 1981, but these finally closed in the 1984 with the closure of the Cannon Classic in Queen Street and although a small cinema re-appeared in the former Cannon Classic Cinema building, that too closed in 2007. Deal's former bingo hall the Regent another art deco cinema building closed in 2008 and has been sold by the local council to reopen as a branch of Silver Screen Cinemas. As of January 2013, the building remains shuttered.

Twin towns

Notable people


  • Charles Hawtrey (1914 – 1988) [26] comedy actor and musician. Hawtrey moved to Deal in 1968 and lived at 117 Middle Street.
  • Sir Norman Joseph Wisdom OBE (1915 – 2010) [27] actor, comedian, and singer-songwriter; lived for a period in a children's home in Deal, but ran away when he was 11
  • Bruce Montague (born 1939 in Deal) [28] actor, best known for his role as Leonard Dunn in the television sitcom Butterflies
  • Richard Cant (born in Dartford in 1964) [29] actor, best known for his roles in the ITV1 television series Midsomer Murders
  • Neil Stuke (born 1966 in Dover) [30] actor best known for his role of Matthew in the TV sitcom Game On and more recently for playing Billy Lamb in the BBC legal drama Silk
  • Jack Scanlon (born 1998) [31] actor and musician, best known for his role in the Holocaust film The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008). Lives in Deal with his parents and younger brother


  • Edward Francis Fitzwilliam (1824 in Deal – 1857) [32] composer and music director.
  • John Ireland (1879 – 1962) [33] was an English composer and teacher of classical music, lived at Comarques, 122, High Street, Deal from 1936-1939 [34]
  • Dick Morrissey (1940 – 2000 in Deal) [35] jazz musician and composer. He played the tenor sax, soprano sax and flute.
  • Adrian Brett (born Deal in 1945) is a British male flautist. [36] His album, Echoes of Gold appeared in the Top 20 of the UK Albums Chart


  • Elizabeth Carter (1717 in Deal – 1806) [37] poet, classicist, writer and translator, and a member of the Bluestocking Circle around Elizabeth Montagu
  • Stephen Phillips (1864 – 1915 in Deal) poet and dramatist, who enjoyed considerable popularity early in his career. Lodged & died in Deal [38]
  • Nathaniel Gubbins (1893–1976) journalist and humourist, [39] lived at 109 Beach Street from 1947-1958, known as ‘The Wars Leading Humorist’
  • Elizabeth Bartlett (1924 in Deal – 2008) [40] poet
  • William Horwood (born 1944) novelist, [41] he grew up on the East Kent coast, primarily in Deal
  • Sean Gabb (born 1960 in Chatham) [42] writer, lecturer and broadcaster, lives in Deal. He was the Director of the Libertarian Alliance from 2006 to 2017


The nearest UK Met Office weather station is in Langdon Bay. Deal has a temperate maritime climate, with comfortable summers and cold winters. The temperature is usually between 3 °C (37 °F) and 21.1 °C (70.0 °F), but the all-time temperature range is between −8 °C (18 °F) and 31 °C (88 °F). There is evidence that the sea is coldest in February; the warmest recorded February temperature was only 13 °C (55 °F), compared with 16 °C (61 °F) in January.[43] [44]

Climate data for Langdon Bay (Nearest station to Deal) (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
Average low °C (°F) 3.3
Record low °C (°F) −5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 74.9
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 12.3 10.6 10.6 10.5 8.1 8.2 8.2 8 10.2 11.6 12.6 12.7 123.5
Average relative humidity (%) 88 86 84 81 83 84 84 82 82 84 87 88 84.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 66 83.4 117.5 185.2 214.7 213.3 221.6 223.4 159.4 126 76.7 55.8 1,743


  1. ^ "Deal Middle Street". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.140.
  3. ^ Lavery, Brian (1989). Nelson's Navy. London: Conway Maritime Press. 
  4. ^ "Museum website". 
  5. ^ Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet. Swindon: English Heritage. 
  6. ^ "WalmerWeb: Local History - The Royal Marines". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Deal Pier - National Piers Society". Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  8. ^ "Monday 30 April 1660". The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Chapter XLV
  10. ^ "The Boy Who Led Them: George Chittenden: 9781849631280: Books". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "The Boy Who Felt No Pain: George Chittenden: 9781849634489: Books". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  12. ^ Chapter 8
  13. ^ William Horwood (2004). The Boy with No Shoes: A Memoir. Review. ISBN 978-0-7553-1317-4. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  14. ^ Frances Fyfield (4 October 2012). Undercurrents. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-4055-2048-5. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  15. ^ David Donachie (1 April 2002). A Hanging Matter. McBooks Press. ISBN 978-1-59013-016-2. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "Deal Community Radio - Something for everyone". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  17. ^ Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography retrieved 3 October 2017
  18. ^ 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13 retrieved 3 October 2017
  19. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10 1986 retrieved 3 October 2017
  20. ^ Sports Reference LLC retrieved 3 October 2017
  21. ^ The Aerodrome website retrieved 3 October 2017
  22. ^ retrieved 3 October 2017
  23. ^ The Peerage, Person Page 12487 retrieved 3 October 2017
  24. ^ Members of the House of Lords retrieved 3 October 2017
  25. ^ Sports Reference LLC retrieved 3 October 2017
  26. ^ IMDb website retrieved 3 October 2017
  27. ^ IMDb website retrieved 3 October 2017
  28. ^ IMDb website retrieved 3 October 2017
  29. ^ IMDb website retrieved 3 October 2017
  30. ^ IMDb website retrieved 3 October 2017
  31. ^ IMDb website retrieved 3 October 2017
  32. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 19 retrieved 3 October 2017
  33. ^ Stewart R. Craggs, John Ireland. Ashgate Publishing (2007) retrieved 3 October 2017
  34. ^ "Blue Plaque Walks in Deal". High Street Deal. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  35. ^ The Guardian, Thursday 9 November 2000, Obituary retrieved 3 October 2017
  36. ^ Biography on Becker Ensemble of London site retrieved 3 October 2017
  37. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica retrieved 3 October 2017
  38. ^ Blue Plaque Walks in Deal retrieved 3 October 2017
  39. ^ Blue Plaque Walks in Deal retrieved 3 October 2017
  40. ^ Guardian Obituary Tuesday 29 July 2008 retrieved 3 October 2017
  41. ^ William Horwood website 2017 retrieved 3 October 2017
  42. ^, Own website retrieved 3 October 2017
  43. ^ "Deal climate". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  44. ^ "December Climate History for Dover - Local - Kent, United Kingdom". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 


  • Green, Ivan. The Book of Deal and Walmer, Barracuda Books Ltd, 1983, ISBN 0-86023-156-9

External links

6 Annotations

steve h  •  Link

Deal castle. which is still standing though remodeled in the 18th century was "one of a lengthy chain of forts built in the early part of the sixteenth century by Henry VIII, to defend England and Wales against invasion from Catholic Europe....The long shingle beach directly in front of Deal castle contributed to the need of the fort as protection against invasion and it also meant that the anchorage between the coast and the sandbar, or Downs, in front of the shore could be defended from the castle"

More of its history and pictures:

vincent  •  Link

Deal to London : 2 day journey; including Gravesend to Temple by Water ( Liza Lizard Restoration London P 71)

Pauline  •  Link

The Castles about Deal
“Deal, along with Walmer and the much destroyed castle at Sandown were all known as the “castles in the Downs”.”

“Deal Castle, Kent, is one of a remarkable group of coastal defense forts built in 1539 by Henry VIII. They were designed for artillery, and consist of a central cylindrical citadel, girt by a ring of half-round casemates, the whole enclosed by a moat conforming in outline to the fort.”

“After Henry VIII divorced his Catholic wife, Catherine of Aragon, in 1533 England was threatened by attack by France and Spain.
“To protect the southern coast Henry immediately set about building a series of forts using the proceeds from the disolved monastries. Deal and Walmer, just to the south, are two of these forts. Both castles are plain, functional constructions whose only purpose was defence.”

Glyn  •  Link

"The cut-throat town of Deal", Lucy Hutchinson 1664.

I don't think that the town had a proper harbour in the 1660s, but nevertheless it was an important assembly points for ships because the adjacent hills provided a great deal of protection from gales and tempests, and Pepys records his and other ships doing this on 9 April 1660.

The town grew up around the Castle and also to provide the supplies required by the ever-increasing fleets of ships as the British navy grew in size. But the town had a black reputation in the 17th century as a home for smugglers, and people who deliberately wrecked ships in order to rob them. Daniel Defoe would later write:

"If I had any satire left to write,
Could I with suited spleen indite,
My verse should blast that fatal town,
And drown'd sailors' widows pull it down;
No footsteps of it should appear,
And ships no more cast anchor there.
The barbarous hated name of Deal shou'd die,
Or be a term of infamy;
And till that's done, the town will stand
A just reproach to all the land."

Lucy Hutchinson cursed it as "a cut-throat town" but she did have personal reasons to hate the place. Colonel John Hutchinson who strongly defended Nottingham against the Royalist Forces at the time of the Civil War was imprisoned by Charles II in Sandown Castle at Deal and eventually died there. His wife, Lucy Hutchinson found rooms in Deal to be near to her husband.

Pepys was also dismissive of the place when he visited it on 30 April 1660. He had sailed through it at least once previously (on 9 April) but perhaps not disembarked on that occasion. As the town did not have a harbour, his ship would not have been able to sail directly into port: instead he would have had to transfer to one of the local galleys or small boats to be taken ashore.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech/British 1607-1677)

The fleets off Deal; long view printed from two separately bordered plates, the castle to the centre left of the left-hand plate, annotated with letters and corresponding key. Etching ,1640

Wyze  •  Link

The motto of the town is "ADJUVATE ADVENAS" in latin which means Befriend the Stranger - it is still a popular town for visitors to this day source -

The town also has a rich history peppered with tales of smuggling and Tudor Kings.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.






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