Monday, 27 June 2011

WESTGATE-ON-SEA AND BIRCHINGTON

Westgate-on-Sea is a pleasant suburb of Margate, with a couple of sandy bays separated by a promontory topped with landscaped gardens. The town had an important role during World War I when it was the site of a Royal Naval Air Service seaplane base which defended the towns of the Thames estuary. The famous British poet John Betjeman was moved to write an entire poem about the town, which begins: "Hark, I hear the bells of Westgate/I will tell you what they sigh/Where those minarets and steeples/Prick the open Thanet sky".

Birchington also had its literary connections, being home to the Victorian artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti during the last months of his life, which he spent in a bungalow here. The bungalow is now gone, but Rossetti was buried in the churchyard of the medieval church of All Saints, and the Rossetti Memorial Garden remains as a reminder of his association with the town. There are four bays around Birchington, including Minnis Bay which was a popular haunt of smugglers and Beresford Gap which has been given over to powerboat and waterskiing enthusiasts.

Map of the area.

IMAG0132photo © 2011 Martin Dickerson | more info (via: Wylio)

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