We have Catherine of Aragon to thank for Deal Castle. Sort of. When Henry VIII decided he wanted to annul the marriage it caused ructions with the Pope of the time, and also with Catherine’s nephew who just happened to be Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Having annoyed these two men Henry was warned that an attack on England was imminent and therefore defences needed to be built. Since Deal beach would have been a good spot for the massing of armies three such castles were built: Deal, Sandwich and Walmer. Deal opened in 1540 and is still open today.
Though now only to tourists such as Mr B and I. Whilst down in Deal this weekend we walked up to the castle from the town centre to explore this little piece of real history. I found myself touching the walls and really wishing they could talk and tell us just what they knew. The castle really does have quite a few tales to tell, I am sure. Who wouldn’t after nearly 500 years!
As always it was the areas that really showed a bit about the lives of the previous inhabitants that made me stop and think the most. The huge fireplaces, the bread ovens, the wine store. I swear I could still smell red wine in there. The design of the building made it pretty useless for defence but did mean there were a lot of windows to chose from for Window Wednesday, I could have photographed them all. And to be fair when I sat and looked through my camera I had taken quite a few!
This room was once a laundry, though I was more fascinated with the roof
But these are a few of the better ones. If you ever find yourself near Deal, or indeed Sandwich or Walmer, they are well worth a visit.
And it was whilst sitting staring at the piles of cannon balls that Mr B reminded me that the square tray on which they sit is called a monkey. The same monkey from the “cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”. Legend has it that when on board ships the monkey would contract faster in the cold than the cannon balls and in so doing would allow the balls to spill all over the deck, hence the phrase. It isn’t strictly true but it is a great story to tell tourists
There is more information on the White Cliffs Country website, or on English Heritage’s site who now look after the castle.