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Exploring Kentish history at English Heritage Deal Castle

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

  • Izzie Anderton
    February 26, 2016 at 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

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm

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

      Reply
  • Fozia S
    February 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm

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

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      I know, it was fascinating.

      Reply
  • Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One
    February 26, 2016 at 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.

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm

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

      Reply
  • Ness
    February 26, 2016 at 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!

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:38 pm

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

      Reply
  • JuggleMum, Nadine Hill
    February 27, 2016 at 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!

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      The basement was ace!

      Reply
  • Sonya Cisco
    February 27, 2016 at 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!

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      So many castles, so little time….x

      Reply
  • Zara
    February 27, 2016 at 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!

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:40 pm

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

      Reply
  • Helen Neale
    February 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm

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

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Christine
    February 27, 2016 at 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.

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 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.

      Reply
  • Kara
    February 28, 2016 at 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

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 28, 2016 at 1:42 pm

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

      Reply
  • Jen
    February 29, 2016 at 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.

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

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

      Reply
  • Sonia
    February 29, 2016 at 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 🙂

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      Kids and castles = perfect combination!

      Reply
  • Rosie Corriette
    February 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm

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

    Reply
  • oana79
    March 1, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Beautiful pictures and place, perfect for little explorers!xx

    Reply
  • Ninjacat
    March 4, 2016 at 8:32 am

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

    Reply
  • Nichola - Globalmouse
    March 4, 2016 at 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!

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 7, 2016 at 9:42 am

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

      Reply
  • Charly Dove
    March 8, 2016 at 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 🙂

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 23, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Yes, there are castles round every corner in Kent!

      Reply
  • tots2travel
    March 23, 2016 at 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!

    Reply

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