Walks 1 & 6
Walks 1 & 6 have been grouped together on this site so as not to create too many pages to open and load up. Both walks are part of a whole, relating to the West Cliff and can be done as one walk or serve as the start and end when walking the whole trail.
Follow the footprints to get the most out of the walk and see what Ramsgate has to discover. If you are doing the full trail, move onto Walk 2 after this. If you are wanting to walk the West Cliff, after St. Augustine's, keep walking straight on until the road and path veers to the right and you can see the West Cliff Hall. Paragon is to the left side of the cliff and the rest of West Cliff Walk 6 is to the right. Enjoy!
The Royal Esplanade was opened by the Duke of Cornwall in 1926 (future Edward VIII and then Duke of Windsor). It stretches from Government Acre, by the West Cliff Lift, down to the recreation park. The entire West Cliff, including the esplanade area, was part of the St. Laurence parish and was once separate from Ramsgate.
Government Acre is an area of grass used mainly for events and fairs. The original government stone boundary markers can be seen along the edges of the grass.
Walking from Government Acre, go towards the town centre, keeping the main road to your left and St. Augustine’s to your right. Walk down St. Augustine’s Road to see the first blue plaque on the Trail.
Photo: Floral archway constructed for the Duke’s arrival and opening of the new promenade in 1926. The archway was built by G. J. Attwood & Co. Contractors of Ramsgate and Broadstairs, their phone number was 10.
SHRINE OF ST. AUGUSTINE'S AND THE GRANGE
Brilliant 19C architect and designer Augustus Pugin (1812-1852) whose iconic works include ‘Big Ben’ and the magnificent interiors of the Houses of Parliament, purchased land west of Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour on the clifftop promenade. He then surprised Regency Ramsgate and built a large detached Gothic house, the Grange. In 1844 he moved his family down from London to take up permanent residence here, intending to live a healthier life working from his seaside home. Next door he built his ideal Gothic church to commemorate the nearby landing in 597AD of his name saint and England’s Christian Apostle, Augustine. Both house and church were designed and funded entirely by Pugin. Man of action and vision, he generously gifted St Augustine’s to the Catholic community for generations past, present and future.
Pugin’s Ramsgate house and church, his passionate, illustrated books, his major contribution to the Palace of Westminster and the successful exposure of his extensive Gothic designs at the 1851 Great Exhibition, all rapidly and radically influenced architecture in the growing towns and cities of late 19C England. Gothic became the dominant style of the Victorian Age, shaping much of the nation’s vast new build. Pugin’s prominent cornerstone position on London’s Albert Memorial testifies to his leading role in this Victorian Gothic Revival.
The Grange and St Augustine’s Church are Grade One Listed and, after almost two centuries of continuous use, have recently undergone substantial restoration and development. Renovated and maintained by Landmark Trust, the Grange is rented out for short stays to those eager to experience Pugin’s brilliantly designed and crafted home. Weekly guided tours include his magnificent entrance hall, ground floor living and work rooms. Twice yearly during UK Heritage Open Weekends the whole property can be viewed.
Pugin’s exquisite church has been painstakingly restored to former glory, thanks to £1.2 million Heritage Lottery Funding, plus private and public sponsorship. Lighting and heating have been upgraded. Recent acquisition of a rare, authenticated relic of Saint Augustine, has made it a Shrine and important pilgrimage site. Also, the burial place of Pugin and his family, visitors come to honour England’s leading 19C Gothic architect and designer. The National Pugin Centre has been set up in the north east wing and state-of-the-art installations tell the histories of England’s early Christian evangelisation and Pugin.
Now a world-class UK Heritage destination for adults, seniors, families and organised groups, St Augustine’s has outstanding new facilities: multi-purpose entrance hall with back-lit glass wall panels, film screen and multimedia equipment; exhibition display cabinets; audio guided tours; family trails; varied year-long programme of special events, including St Augustine’s and Pugin’s Festivals in May and September respectively; giant statue of Augustine, carved in oak and robed in his Archbishop’s vestments; souvenir shop; disabled facilities; Pugin archives; welcome desk with trained local volunteers to assist visitors. Open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm. Free entrance.
For further information:
For the Grange, call 01628 825925 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Jayne Evelyn
WEST CLIFF RETURN
If you've followed the full trail, follow the footprints to see the last few areas.
When you reach the top of Jacob’s Ladder, either by walking up the steps (turn left) or up the hill (keep walking straight). As you walk towards the West Cliff promenade, have a look at the houses lining the road. Built during the early 1800s, these Georgian and Regency homes were sold as individual plots of land, with the design left to the land owner, explaining the higglty-pigglty look of Paragon. Charles Darwin stayed in 8 Paragon on his holidays in 1850.
Photo: Paragon, early 1800s
WEST CLIFF HALL
At the start of the West Cliff promenade, there is a sunken building, entirely beneath your feet: The West Cliff Hall, opened in July 1914. The site was once a bandstand and entertainment area, with the Regency Hotel behind. West Cliff Hall was originally a theatre, also hosting wartime dances and an early the Rolling Stones concert. The building then became the Motor Museum from 1985- 2005, set up by Lord Cranford. He also introduced the Bucket and Spade Run to Ramsgate, now an annual fixture. Currently empty, the old West Cliff Hall is waiting for somebody to invest and refurbish this unique piece of the town’s history.
Photo: West Cliff Hall not long after opening, c.1914
WEST CLIFF PROMENADE
Regency Hotel: As you walk along the West Cliff promenade, you will pass a very long building, just after the West Cliff Hall. This is the old Regency Hotel, now Regency School of English and private apartments.
Model Village: There is a patch of grass, very close to this area. It was once the site of the old Model Village. Opened in 1953 and lasting 50 years, it attracted over 1 million visitors and was one of the most intricate model villages in the country.
Roman Finds: All around Ramsgate, there have been Roman artefacts discovered. The East Cliff has uncovered a white rhino horn, among other finds. At the West Cliff there have been many finds, such as: large vases; cinerary (burial) urns; bronze brooches; animal bones (pigs, boars, and deer); bottles; glass lachrymatory in museum condition; and, a possible burial site. There were various Napoleonic military training camps along this area, too. As recently as 2017, two Roman skeletons and other artefacts were discovered by southern Water in the Royal Harbour Approach area.
Edwardian Lift: As you enter Government Acre, you will notice West Cliff Lift, Grade II listed in 1998, out of service since 1993. The West Cliff Lift is bold and functional, built not only to fulfil a need, but also to be admired. Sir Burnet and Partners are believed to be responsible for its construction, the lift opened c.1926, capable of carrying 20 passengers. It was built in the Art Deco style of the period. The most notable feature is the blue glass tiling that runs the entire length of the shaft, making a soft contrast to the stark concrete casing.
Royal Esplanade Gardens: Walking further down the promenade, you will notice a boating pool, to the right. This used to house a bandstand and seating area, used for many ceremonies, pageants, celebrations, and other events. To the right, the curved building was once a monkey house, from which there were several ‘escape attempts’ by primates. The opposite building is a café and small arcade area.
Further down the promenade is the Chine, a walkway to the beach lined with Pulhamite rocks, the same as Madeira Walk and the archways of Royal Parade. There is also a large public park, with play areas.
1. Regency Hotel in the background, with Italian Gardens in the foreground. The Gardens would be dug out to become the West Cliff Hall.
2. Model Village on its opening day in 1953. Mayor Eddie Butcher wearing his mayoral chains.
3. West Cliff’s Edwardian lift, looking down to Western Undercliff. The photo calls the West Cliff St. Lawrence Cliffs, here.
4. This bandstand is now the site of the boating pool. The building in the background was once used as a monkey house.
5. The Chine Gardens, looking up from the undercliff toward the clifftop.
JULIUS CAESAR’S ORIGINAL LANDING SITE
In the millennia since the Romans invaded Britain, facts became distorted, memories were lost, and real events became myths and legends. The same was true for the original landing site of Julius Caesar. A local legend in Ramsgate, likely passed down orally for generations, still prevailed in the early 18th century. That of the Roman’s landing at Ramsgate.
Daniel Defoe visited Ramsgate on his travels in 1723 and said of the town, ‘a small port, the inhabitants are mighty fond of having us call it Roman’s-Gate, pretending that the Romans made their first attempt to land here… but, is not to be proved.’ – A Tour Through England and Wales, 1724.
As the years passed, so did the truth and in time it was forgotten. With evidence for an early Roman landing in Deal, it was all but accepted that this was the actual landing site.
Then it all changed when archaeologists uncovered exciting new evidence in November 2017. At Ebbsfleet, Ramsgate, an ancient Roman encampment had been discovered and early evidence pointed to it being pre-conquest. The base is thought to have covered roughly 20 hectares, providing enough space to shelter the near 800 ships Caesar arrived with. By the end of the excavation, with many interesting artefacts discovered, it was concluded that this was the original landing site of Julius Caesar in 54BC. It wasn’t until AD43 that Claudius would begin the permanent occupation of Britain.
It seems the locals in the 18th century fishing village of Ramsgate had long memories and more than 2000 years later, we have found the proof to support their claims.
The map shows Julius Ceasar’s journey once close to the Kent coast. He first sailed close enough to Dover to see the white cliffs but would choose to land at Ebbsfleet instead. Possibly due to Dover’s inlet being overlooked by two cliffs, making defence against local attacks more difficult. Ebbsfleet was a flatter, more defensible area and large enough to bring the fleet ashore.