Exploring Kentish history at English Heritage Deal Castle

Exploring Kentish history at English Heritage Deal Castle

Regular readers of this blog will know we’re big history fans. So, when we were invited to stay in a fisherman’s cottage in Deal, Kent for the weekend, there was no way we could leave the town without paying a visit to Deal Castle.

Deal Castle

Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII in the late 1530s and is in the care of English Heritage. Along with Walmer and Sandown Castles, it’s part of a trio of defensive castles along this shoreline that are so close you could easily visit them all in one day. There’s a cycle path linking the three, and on a fine day I imagine it would make a pleasant trip along the coast.

Deal Castle

 

Deal Castle

It was a fresh, sunny day when we visited, and the children spent a long time running around the outer bastions, which are only a little more than a stone’s throw away from the sea. There are several cannons and stacks of cannonballs, which give a sense of how the Tudors might have defended the shoreline against the Catholic powers of Europe.

Deal Castle

The fortress ramparts were open, with a spectacular view of the sea. Even so their walls were high enough that it felt safe for little visitors to race around on top of the castle, playing soldiers.

Deal Castle

After a good runaround in the fresh salty air, we headed down into the Keep.

Deal Castle

As with most historic buildings, at Deal Castle you had to be careful on the stone staircases.

Deal Castle

 

Inside the basement of the Keep, there was a small interactive display, where the children could read more about the castle, and answer history questions.

But my two (aged 6 and almost 4), were more taken with ‘the Rounds’, the narrow passageway running around the entire basement, with gunports overlooking the outside. These were dimly lit, a bit spooky, and liaible to occasional flooding.

Deal Castle

Perfect for mini explorers, then.  There were only a few exits and hardly any other visitors (it was February, off-season); although we lost sight of the children a few times, it felt very safe inside the castle. It was a great place for allowing kids to roam uninterrupted.

Deal Castle

The basement was full of nooks and crannies, like the cavernous oven above (and yes, the children did try and climb inside it….)

Deal Castle

 

The upstairs of the Keep had been modenised and was, to my mind, less exciting. It did give more information about what life might have been like for soldiers in the garrison though, and we came across an interesting Burma Star memorial (in the picture above).

Deal Castle

Deal isn’t a large castle; it was only ever used as a garrison, rather than a permanent residence and so it’s possible to whizz round the place in an hour or two. It’s cheaper to enter than many English Heritage places (£6 per adult; £3.60 per child over 5; free with English Heritage membership),  and with all its cannons and gunports it was a good place to start a discussion with the kids about Kentish history, and war with other countries.

Deal Castle

Deal Castle is situated in the town of Deal, Kent, 9 miles from Dover. In winter it’s open every weekend apart from Christmas and New Year bank holidays, from 10am until 4pm.

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We were given entry to Deal Castle for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.

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32 Comments

  1. February 26, 2016 / 11:53 am

    Looks like a brilliant place to explore for children of any age! Happy to hear that Gwen and Austin had a fabulous time x

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:35 pm

      We’d happily go back there – a nice place to pop into for a couple of hours.

  2. February 26, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    Oh looks like a place the kids would love to explore! All that history aswell!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:35 pm

      I know, it was fascinating.

  3. February 26, 2016 / 8:38 pm

    I wrote a post about Deal Castle recently from a visit we made a while back. It’s a great place to explore in conjunction with Walmer Castle as they are so close together aren’t they. My son loved the cannons too.

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:38 pm

      The cannons were a great touch. I’d love to visit Walmer too – an excuse to go back!

  4. February 26, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to this part of Kent before. We have English Heritage membership but we usually end up more round Folkstone way. I think the kids would love to storm Deal Castle!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:38 pm

      Kent’s fabulous, isn’t it. So many different things to see and do.

  5. February 27, 2016 / 7:49 am

    Ooh that basement looks equally spooky and interesting! Great photo of the brick cavern! I’m glad you all enjoyed your day!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:39 pm

      The basement was ace!

  6. February 27, 2016 / 8:15 am

    Looks fab – we love a good castle – it is a bit far for a day trip for us, but if we end up having a break in the area it will be top of the list!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      So many castles, so little time….x

  7. February 27, 2016 / 12:17 pm

    I have never been to Kent, it is on my never ending to-do list. I love your photographs and it looks like there is so much to explore! I love that it has so much space for the littles ones too!

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      Kent’s a fabulous place – definitely worth a visit.

  8. February 27, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    A loot to explore there and I really like your photos .

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      Thank you!

  9. February 27, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    That oven looks huge! We wnt to Dover castle last year but never got around to visiting the others. I like the idea of cycling between Walmer, Deal and Sandown; that would make for an excellent day out.

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:41 pm

      Yes, you could have baked a lot of buns in that oven! I’ve heard that Dover’s brilliant too – will have to give that a try soon.

  10. February 28, 2016 / 9:32 am

    We always seem to head west when visiting places, I have relatives in Kent so need to make it my mission to visit more often and head off to see this castle, it looks really interesting

    • Nell
      Author
      February 28, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      Kara you’d love Kent – I think it would be right up your street.

  11. February 29, 2016 / 10:15 am

    I am going to admit that Kent is not somewhere we have been, well unless you count driving through it for the tunnel! Living in N Yorkshire it is a bit of a trek for us.

    • Nell
      Author
      February 29, 2016 / 8:35 pm

      Ha ha yes – and you’re not short of castles up in your neck of the woods, either!

  12. February 29, 2016 / 10:22 am

    I love visiting castles and this one looks awesome, My oldest son used to love them when he was little we always went to a castle or three when we went anywhere 🙂

    • Nell
      Author
      February 29, 2016 / 8:35 pm

      Kids and castles = perfect combination!

  13. February 29, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    Pretty sure I went there on a school trip many years ago – looks like you had a lovely time! 🙂

  14. March 1, 2016 / 11:53 am

    Beautiful pictures and place, perfect for little explorers!xx

  15. March 4, 2016 / 8:32 am

    I do love Leeds castle it’s such an amazing place

  16. March 4, 2016 / 9:58 am

    I grew up in Kent and Sussex and have never been here!! It looks briliant, must plan a visit back to the area!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 9:42 am

      There are so many gorgeous places to visit in the Kent/Sussex area.

  17. March 8, 2016 / 3:34 pm

    Oh what a fabulous castle, it looks amazing and what a great place to explore. Love the rounds! It’s a lovely part of the world Kent, we’ve not been for a while. Stayed in a cottage last time with the in-laws, loads of fun 🙂

    • Nell
      Author
      March 23, 2016 / 10:15 am

      Yes, there are castles round every corner in Kent!

  18. March 23, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    I love history too. Your children look the perfect age to start engaging with all the tall tales and gruesome stories. Mine are still small but can’t wait to introduce them to history appreciation!

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