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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 99, September 13, 1890   By:

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VOL. 99.

September 13, 1890.



I had often been told that St. Margaret's Bay, between Deal and Dover, was lovely beyond compare. Seen from the Channel, I had heard it described as "magnificent," and evidence of its charms nearer at hand, was adduced in the fact that Mr. ALMA TADEMA, R.A., had made it his headquarters during a portion of the recent summer.


So I determined to visit it. I had to take a ticket to Martin's Mill, a desolate spot, containing a railway station, a railway hotel, and (strange to say) a mill. I was told by an obliging official on my arrival, that St. Margaret's Bay was a mile and a half distant "to the village." And a mile and a half a very good mile and a half it was! Up hill, down dale, along the dustiest of dusty roads, bordered by telegraph poles that suggested an endless lane without a turning. On climbing to the summit of each hill another long stretch of road presented itself. At length the village was reached, and I looked about me for the sea. A cheerful young person who was flirting with a middle aged cyclist seemed surprised when I asked after it. "Oh, the sea!" she exclaimed, in a tone insinuating that the ocean was at a decided discount in her part of the world "oh, you will find that a mile further on." I sighed wearily, and recommenced my plodding stumbles.

I passed two unhappy looking stone eagles protecting a boarding house, and a shed given over to the sale of lollipops and the hiring of a pony chaise. The cottages seemed to me to be of the boat turned bottom upwards order of architecture, and were adorned with placards, announcing "Apartments to Let." Everything seemed to let, except, perhaps, the church, which, however (on second thoughts), appeared to be let alone. But if the houses were not, in themselves, particularly inviting, their names were pleasing enough, although, truth to tell, a trifle misleading. For instance, there was a "Marine Lodge," which seemed a very considerable distance from the ocean, and a "Swiss chalet ," that but faintly suggested the land renowned equally for mountains and merry juveniles. I did not notice any shops, although I fancy, from the appearance of a small barber's pole that I found in front of a cottage, that the hair dressing interest must have had a local representative. For the rest, an air of hopefulness, if not precisely cheerfulness, was given to the place by the presence of a Convalescent Hospital. Leaving the village behind me, I came, footsore and staggering, at length to the Bay. I was cruelly disappointed. Below me was what appeared to be a small portion of Rosherville, augmented with two bathing machines, and a residence for the Coast guard. There was a hotel, (with a lawn tennis ground), and several placards, telling of land to let. The descent to the sea was very steep, and, on the high road above it, painfully modern villas were putting in a disfiguring appearance. On the beach was a melancholy pic nic party, engaged in a mild carouse. In the gloaming was a light ship, marking the end of the Goodwin Sands.

On a beautiful day no doubt St. Margaret's Bay would look quite as lovely as Gravesend, but when it rained I question whether it would compare favourably with Southend under similar atmospheric circumstances. There was some shrubbery creeping up the white hill side that may have been considered artistic, and possibly the great expanse of ocean (when completely free from mist) had to a certain extent a sort of charm. As I looked towards the coast of France I had an excellent view of a steamer, crammed with (presumably) noisy excursionists, coming from Margate. But when I have said this I have nothing more to add, save that you can get from Martin's Mill to St. Margaret's Bay by an omnibus. By catching this conveyance you avoid a tedious walk, which puts you out of temper for the rest of the day.

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