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Monday, 27 August 2012

Day Trip to Margate

Margate was the favourite seaside resort of Charles Dickens who found the place "delightful and fresh", a place where he enjoyed long walks. So when I was offered a trip there I jumped at the opportunity.

Margate has had a recent revival since the Turner Contemporary Gallery opened in 2011 after 20 years to create. Named after Turner whose early life began in Margate and was drawn back regularly because of his love of the seas, skies, quality of light and later his landlady Mrs Booth.

Artists continue to be inspired by Margate, today's most well known contemporary artist being Tracy Emin.
My trip began with a visit to the gallery to see the current exhibition of works by Turner, Rodin and Emin. It is worth going to Margate just for this show alone.

Gallery visiting makes me very hungry and so a hearty lunch was in order. We went to the Walpole Bay Hotel for a traditional English roast. What a gem this place is. It opened in 1914 as a hotel for society to spend their summer vacation. It remained in the same family until it was taken over by Jane and Peter Bishop in 1995. The original owners had not thrown away a single item in all those years. Jane and Peter quickly saw the value in these items and have turned part of the hotel into a museum.


You could spend hours looking at everything here. I recommend a weekend stay to take it all in.
Another lovely tale began in 2009 when guest Curtis Tappenden presented Jane with a sketch he had drawn on his napkin during dinner. It has now become a tradition with artists from around the world crating art on their napkins. There are currently 121 adorning the walls of the hotel.


After a hearty meal we needed a walk. As luck would have it the Tudor house was preparing to open its doors for the first time since its restoration and we were given a preview. It's the oldest remaining building in central Margate, built around 1525. (Margate was heavily bombed in WWII). It is thought the place was probably owned by a wealthy yeoman farmer.


For something totally different and rather quirky you really must visit the shell grotto. It was discovered quite by accident when in 1835 the current owner was digging a duck pond and broke through the roof. No-one knows its origins, however it is believed to date from the time of the Knights Templar. A winding passage leads to an altar room, the walls and ceiling are all covered in a mosaic of seashells. A space of 190 square metres and at best guess 4.6 million shells.

Take a fast train from St Pancras International station and you will be transported to Margate in just under an hour and half.

18 comments:

Adullamite said...

Oh to go down to the sea again....
Excellent tour and the Shell Grotto is indeed mysterious.
Tracy Emin is an artist? You sure?

Luis Gomez said...

Sounds like a great trip Mo!

jabblog said...

Ah, Margate - playground of my youth:-)

Brianna said...

Man, that looks like a place I'd like to visit. Love the pictures!

Lowell said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I know nothing about any of this so it was especially interesting. What a treasure of buildings and artifacts!

I especially love the gallery and the hotel and the grotto.

The seaside scene is also of great interest. Looks like a boat got stranded at low tide and they're "rescuing" it.

MuMuGB said...

Hi, I love your blog! Thanks for your comment on mine. I have to admit that I would love to go to Margate, but I am feeling pretty lazy this bank holiday weekend, so I think that we will all stay in London!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Thanks for the trip Mo, and I hope everyone takes the time to click onto the last image, what an amazing find.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Turner, Rodin and Emin - unlikely bedfellows! I've never visited Margate but it is clearly a place that I should avoid no longer.

Jenny Woolf said...

How nice. Margate used to be a byword for naff and it's encouraging to see how a place can reinvent itself. It sounds really interesting around there.

jennyfreckles said...

I've never been there but it sounds to have lots to recommend it, not least those big skies.

Sunny said...

What a cosy place!

Sharon said...

The place sounds magical. I'm wishing I could have tagged along. What fascinating find that grotto is. Sounds like your day was just about perfect.

RedPat said...

Sounds like a destination for my next English adventure!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you find all the best tidbits about a place Mo.
It sounds like you had a great time in Margate. Obviously it has a lot going for it.

Nicola.

Louis la Vache said...

Mo, «Louis» was happy to see you had visited San Francisco Bay Daily Photo. Sunday Bridges has continued and «Louis» welcomes your participation any Sunday you have a bridge photo you wish to show. Sunday Bridges posts every Sunday at 0001 hrs central Europe time.

Stefan Jansson said...

It was a nice trip.

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed your trip to my home town but you really wouldn't like to live here...

Sadly the town it's self is dead, not only not been invested in financially but with all this going on and the invasion from all the europenas in the past few years the streets are like rubbish tips, not a nice place to live sadly...

I wanted to live here to remember my childhood visits and talked my husband into it saying 'you won't regret it' Now 4 years later we are moving away from the seaside to further inland where the europeans aren't so dominant and intrusive...

No longer can we enjoy peace with our windows open of an evening because of the full blast music that blares out and the shouting and swearing, the only words they have picked up with ease I hasten to add! But also in the day I cannot pass along my road in my electric wheelchair without having to excuse myself to get by as they all gather outside a certain few houses on their kitchen chairs! This all happening in the last 3 years.

I am so uphappy here and can't wait to move to a very quite area off the beaten track. No more to enjoy the 5 minute wander to the seas' edge that I have at the moment...

Nikki said...

What a shame that everyones experience is not good, however Margate is a great place to visit for a weekend or even a little longer so please do not be put of by this residents comments - all large towns have there difficulties. The old town of Margate particularly has developed into a great community area - historical and cultural attractions, retro shops, cafe culture and beautiful boutique shops. Not forgetting a superb old fashioned sweet shop - Mr Simms, that cannot fail to tantalise your taste buds.

So please do not let anything put you off a visit to Margate - you will be warmly welcomed and I am sure you will enjoy your stay.

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