Celebrate St. George’s Day and feel part of England’s story when you discover Dover. Immerse yourself in the stunning coastal location and breathe in fresh sea air whilst you enjoy the spectacular views of the iconic White Cliffs. Dover has a wealth of heritage, with many historic buildings, sites and monuments. The town boasts a lively arts scene with a host of independent galleries and seaside shopping at De Bradelei Wharf, set in the beautiful Dover marina. Relax with some retail therapy and a spot of lunch in the sunshine! You’ll find a great choice of restaurants serving excellent quality, locally sourced ingredients; seafood lovers may wish to try the freshly caught fish and famous Dover sole!
Many artists, designers, writers and musicians have visited the beautiful coastline of Dover and have been inspired by the chalk downs, the stunning countryside, smugglers’ alleyways, historical heritage and nautical charisma. Charles Dickens stayed in Dover on a number of occasions and made frequent trips through the port on his way to the Continent, often staying at the Lord Warden Hotel. The nearby streets of what was then the maritime Pier District provided the atmosphere of the “Tom-All-Alone’s” described in, Bleak House. Dickens knew the Lord Warden Hotel well enough to mention the proprietors – Mr and Mrs Birmingham – by name in his short piece The Calais Night Mail of 1865. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was so inspired by White Cliffs Country, he describes Dover Castle as ‘the wonderful cardboard castle’ in his novel Moonraker, published in 1955 and largely based at St. Margaret’s Bay. Finally, Jane Austen, one of the most famous writers in English literature, was familiar with country house life in Dover, and used her experience as inspiration for some of her novels.
White Cliffs of Dover
The steep chalk cliffs of Dover, for centuries a proud symbol of the “splendid isolation” of England and the first sign of home for returning sailors, are crowned to the east by the mighty castle. The western cliffs bear Shakespeare’s name, an ode to the finale of King Lear.
Perched high above the English Channel and known as the ‘key to England’, the great fortress of Dover Castle has played a crucial role in the defence of the realm for over nine centuries, a span equalled only by the Tower of London and Windsor Castle. Dover Castle came to be in 1168 by the order of King Henry II, on the site of ramparts that were already some 1,000 years old. The central Norman keep, built in 1180, houses most of the castle’s exhibits. Why not climb the Great Tower and immerse yourself in vivid medieval interiors?
The Secret Wartime Tunnels
The Secret Wartime Tunnels were built during Napoleonic times to provide protection from enemy fire. The tunnels under Dover Castle contain exhibits tracing their history. More recently, in WWII they served as HQ for the evacuation of British and French forces from Dunkirk. Another intriguing tunnel area to explore is the Underground Hospital, a reconstruction of the wartime surgery that served the many troops stationed in the area.
South Foreland Lighthouse
The beautiful Victorian lighthouse, a landmark of the White Cliffs of Dover, was built in 1843 and was used by Marconi in the first successful attempts at radio navigation. The lighthouse is known for being the first lighthouse in the world to display an electric light. The views of the English Channel are wonderful, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to France. Inside, interpretive displays reveal the work involved to keep the lighthouse active, including the unique mechanism that originally made the lighthouse flash. The lighthouse was built to warn mariners of the shifting Goodwin Sands while guiding them through the Straits of Dover. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988. During its 142 years of service it stood witness to and withstood a wealth of history, including two World Wars.
The Battle of Britain Memorial
Situated high on the White Cliffs, this stirring memorial to the heroes of the Battle of Britain has become a place of pilgrimage for anyone with an interest in the remarkable story of how the RAF changed the course of World War ll. The memorial inspires quiet reflection on the bravery and sacrifice shown by the aircrew – fewer than 3,000 men – who flew, fought and died in arguably the most crucial battle fought by this country in the whole of the 20th century Maintained by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, the site at Capel-le-Ferne is dedicated to Churchill’s famous “Few” who fought in the skies overhead to keep this country free from invasion.
King Henry VIII had a long connection with Dover and held the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle before he became King. Henry had a chain of castles built along the south coast to protect the country from French and Spanish invasion.
Queen Elizabeth I visited Dover on 14 July 1573 on her progress through Kent. It is likely that the Queen stayed at Dover Castle before proceeding onto Sandwich.
King Charles II arrived in Dover in 1660 on his way to London to secure the throne after the restoration of the Monarchy. Ten years later, he signed a secret treaty at Dover Castle which was negotiated with the French King Louis XIV.
On 14 November 1842, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria visited Dover whilst staying as guests of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Only short notice of the visit was given, but there was sufficient time to decorate the town with a considerable number of flags.
St. George Patron Saint of England
St. George is England’s patron saint and linked internationally to myth and legend, but little is known about the life of St. George. The story of St. George and the dragon is the most famous surviving tale, but like many early saints, the exact details of his life remains a mystery. During the Third Crusade in the 12th century, Richard I placed himself and his army under the protection of St. George. He also adopted the emblem of St. George, a red cross on a white background, which was worn as a uniform and later used on the English flag. The feast day of St. George has been celebrated in England for many hundreds of years on April 23rd.
Visit Dover with Britannia Coaches and step into England’s great past!