The Isle of Thanet, Kent, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Isle of Thanet, Kent, UK

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Fort House on the Isle of Thanet, inspiration for Dickens' Bleak House.

The Isle of Thanet1 is the north east corner of Kent, England, bounded by the North Sea (north and east), the River Stour (south) and the River Wantsum (west) - the latter now so silted up that, when it appears above ground, it's just a mere trickle.

Thanet was a true island until the 16th Century, when the River Wantsum finally gave up the ghost, and includes the Victorian coastal resorts of Broadstairs (see below), Margate2 and Ramsgate with its Royal Harbour. These were popular with the residents of East and South London as holiday locations, nearly as popular as Southend, Clacton and Brighton. Other notable towns and villages are Acol, Birchington-on-Sea, Cliffs End, Cliftonville, Manston, Minster, Monkton, St Nicholas-at-Wade, Sarre, and Westgate-on-Sea. Thanet has its place in ancient history - it was one of the first landing sites for the Romans, Saxons and St Augustine.

Famous Residents

  • Charles Dickens (1812-1870) once lived, and died in Broadstairs. Dickens' House, rumoured to be where he wrote Bleak House (1853), was once a museum dedicated to one of England's finest novelists.

  • Bad Manners' front-man, Buster Bloodvessel (born Douglas Trendle on 6 September, 1958, London) founded the all too briefly popular 'Fatty Towers' Hotel/Restaurant, serving high-cholesterol cuisine. Buster also invested heavily in Margate Football Club, who were promoted to the Nationwide Conference in 2001.

  • If you are into architecture, then Thanet is the place for you. Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) lived and worked here. The Grange is a fine example of his Gothic Revival influence on the Island. There is a website dedicated to him including pictures of his work in both Thanet and his collaboration with Charles Barry (The Houses of Parliament), at Pugin.com.

  • John Buchan (1875-1940) apparently based his Thirty Nine Steps after the set of steps on the beach at North Foreland, Broadstairs, where he was living in 1915.

  • Frank Richards (pen name of Charles Harold St John Hamilton; 1875-1961) the writer of the Billy Bunter novels lived in Kingsgate, Broadstairs.

  • Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) lived in Margate from 1827 to 1836 and painted some of his famous seascapes there.

What to See

  • Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve has lots of bird life.

  • Ebbsfleet was a landing site of the Saxons (449 AD) and St Augustine (597 AD) - Sandwich Road, Cliffs End, Ramsgate.

  • Richborough Castle is the remains of a Roman Fort outside Sandwich.

  • Manston Airport, formerly RAF Manston, offers occasional sightings of Concorde and The Red Arrows, the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial.

  • The Winter Gardens in Margate once hosted a live show by perennial rockers Status Quo.

  • Dreamland Fun Park has a safety record that is 'improving'.

  • The Beaches and Piers in Broadstairs and Margate have wide stretches of sand, whereas Ramsgate is mostly shingle. The Victorian Paddle-steamer piers are still standing.

Where to Eat and Drink

Thanet has an abundance of eateries and public houses. If you like junk-food there is both a McDonalds drive-thru and a Burger King drive-thru within a mile of each other on Margate Road, Broadstairs.

If you are looking for something different, a highly-recommended restaurant is Noknoi's Kitchen in Ramsgate Harbour - a family run Thai restaurant. For something cheaper, The Emperor of China, Queen Street, Ramsgate is ideal.

Sport in Thanet

There is a wide range of sporting venues in Thanet. If you are into cricket, golf, bowling, tennis, football, snooker, gymnastics, rugby or sailing you'll find something in Thanet.

How to Get to Planet Thanet

As Star Trek-style transporters have yet to be invented, 'beaming up' to Planet Thanet is not an option. However, there are more conventional ways to get there - if you really have to.

By Boat

  • From Ostende, Belgium to Ramsgate Royal Harbour

  • From Calais and Boulogne, France via Dover and Folkestone

By Rail

  • From London (Victoria station) via the Medway Towns

  • From London (Charing Cross) via Ashford and Canterbury

By Road

  • From London; use M2 and A299 (Thanet Way)

  • From Ashford; use A28

  • From Canterbury; use A28 or A257

  • From Dover; use A256

By Plane

  • Limited access to London (Manston)

1Pronounced locally as 'Ffani' - the 't' is very, very silent.2Made famous by Chas'n'Dave's ode 'Margate' and the episode entitled 'Jolly Boys Outing' from the hit British TV programme Only Fool's and Horses.

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