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I have the internet to thank for bringing me and my fiancé to Sandgate. I was shamefully unaware of Sandgate’s existence up until early 2007. However, soaring property prices and a morbid fear of ending up on a soulless, new housing estate encouraged me to extend our search for a new home just that little bit further.
It was the promise of a detached, 1920s built house with sea glimpses that caught my eye. I can remember thinking as Google revealed pictures of the property: “Sandgate? I’ve never heard of the place!” A subsequent search on the Sandgate Society’s website filled some of the gaps in my knowledge. Well, I thought if it was good enough for HG Wells and Hattie Jacques (we have an affinity, I too am a well upholstered woman), then it would certainly do for us.
It was with mounting excitement that we made the train journey from London to the coast for a weekend’s reconnaissance.
It was glorious sunshine all the way to Folkestone West, but by the time we reached the bottom of Military Road, Sandgate was shrouded in a thick sea mist, making first impressions almost impossible.
Thankfully, not even the sea mist or the resident DJ in the basement bar of the Sandgate Hotel could dent our enthusiasm. The next day, the sun returned to reveal Sandgate in all its glory. We spent a beautiful time enjoying walks by the sea, pubs, viewing antique shops and getting a feel for the place. We found the house that had so enchanted us on the internet and resolved to make an appointment to view it. That night as we watched the reflection of a magnificent full moon shimmering on the water we decided that we had found where we wanted to settle.
We moved into our internet house in October 2007 and already feel deeply attached to the village. We survived the winter’s storms which left me enthralled as the house groaned against the wind and almost vertical rain. We have had happy times sitting by the fire at The Providence getting to know its regulars. The summer should be a piece of cake, although we might not be saying that when the inevitable influx of day trippers make parking scarce.
We do not mind that some parts of Sandgate are a little down at heel – that is part of its attraction. However, judging by the amount of building renovation going on at present, Sandgate’s genteel shabbiness may soon be in the past. The high speed rail link coming to Folkestone will have a knock-on effect for the surrounding area, hopefully positive. Change is inevitable I feel, but rightly or wrongly I want to guard jealously the charms that first attracted me to Sandgate from the outside world. Who knows, come summer I might just have perfected the lie in response to a non-resident’s request for directions: “Sandgate you say? I’ve never heard of the place!”