Located west of Folkestone, the charming coastal village of Sandgate does not disappoint. The beaches have long views over the English Channel towards France and have held the prestigious Seaside Award since 2013. The village High Street, once a hub for its antiques and collectables, now hosts many small businesses including three antiques shops, an H G Wells exhibition and a wonderful selection of small independent shops and restaurants (including traditional fish and chips).
A short distance up Military Road from the high street takes you to the Golden Valley, so named because of the gorse which once cloaked the hillside. Houses now dominate this area with a well established community as large as the village itself.
Sandgate has a rich history- a series of history boards scattered throughout the village emphasise the changes that this small village has undergone over time. A trail of 13 plaques will take you to the beach to the south, the small streets of the village and up to the wooded escarpment to the north. (* see publications tab for further information on walks, trails etc)
Sandgate Castle, now a private dwelling, constructed by Henry V111 1539 – 1540 and visited by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1542 and 1588 and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the late 1800s still dominates the seafront and reminds us of the historic importance of this bijoux coastal village.
Sandgate has faced the threat of invasion three times since then: once during Napoleonic times, and again in WWI and WW2. The 200 year old Shorncliffe garrison, located at the top of the escarpment, established by Sir John Moore, hero of Corrunna (whose bust stands proudly at the western approach to the village); five (5) Martello Towers , some now enshrouded by woodland; the WW1 trenches and WW2 pillboxes still guard the village against invasion!
However the garrison and the associated military heritage, including a remarkable collection of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, including the chain of Martello Towers, and concentration of Napoleonic fortifications at Seabrook, with the start of the Royal Military Canal, now face a new threat from large scale development with over 1200 houses planned for the site. The Sandgate Society and the Parish Council (aligned with other groups) have been active in ensuring that this unique heritage is retained and given appropriate context in the new plans. It is hoped that a new visitor centre centred on Sir John Moore’s HQ will showcase this substantial military heritage.
Many people of repute are associated with Sandgate including John Gough, Sir John Moore, HG Wells, William Wilberforce and Jocelyn Brooke.