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Seaside resorts

Margatefromtheparade.JPG ©The British Library Board c11802-06 / Maps K.Top.17.4.e.

As the fashionable ‘water cure’ of spas such as Bath and Tunbridge Wells moved coastwards in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so a number of obscure fishing villages reinvented themselves as seaside resorts. Kent was an obvious beneficiary of this trend, with Gravesend in the Medway area and no fewer than seven resorts along the East coast: while Whitstable and Herne Bay never offered serious competition to the Sussex resorts of Brighton and Eastbourne, visitors were drawn in large numbers to Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Margate in Thanet, and to Folkestone and Dover in Sheppey.

Women of all ages benefited from the greater freedom and healthier lifestyle of the seaside holiday. Princess Victoria spent three months in Broadstairs in 1829 and stayed in Ramsgate in 1835. Another teenage girl, Emily Shore, kept a journal of her visit to Thanet in the summer of 1831. Like Anna Maria Hussey, who holidayed in Dover in 1836, Emily made the trip by steamboat.

By the early decades of the 20th century visitors would be able to enjoy a body of holiday fiction set in the resort they were visiting: Maggie of Margate: a Seaside Sensation, The Passenger to 'Folkestone, The Beauty of Broadstairs and A Girl of Thanet, to name but a few.


Dicks, John. The Beauty of Broadstairs. Bow Bells Novelettes. Seaside number (82). Vol iv. August 1880. 113-28.

Fletcher, J. S. The Passenger to Folkestone. London: Herbert Jenkins [1927].

Reed, Marcus. A Girl of Thanet. London: Andrew Melrose [1917].

Wodnil, Gabrielle. Maggie of Margate: a Seaside Sensation. London: Stanley Paul & Co., 1912.