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History of Deal

Deal comes from the Anglian word ‘dæl’ meaning a ‘pit, hollow (later a valley)’; therefore a ‘pit, hollow’. The Domesday Book records Deal as Addela. 


Deal gradually grew from a small fishing village and named a 'limb port' of the Cinque Ports in 1278. The town grew to become, for a while, the busiest port in England.

Deal parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Leonard of Limoges. The Normans built the nave and chancel early in the 12th century and added the tower later in the same century. In the 13th century, they rebuilt the chancel and enlarged both the north and south aisles. The tower collapsed in 1658, although rebuilt in 1685, with a new ring of five bells cast by Christopher Hodson. In 1705, the pilots of Deal built the organ gallery. In 1800, Edward Hasted described the Deal church as a ‘handsome large building, having a tower steeple at the west end, with a small wooden cupola or turret at the top’. The Georgians extended the northern aisle and added the gallery in 1819. In 1887, Mears and Stainbank recast the ring of five bells into a ring of six.


To protect the coast Henry VIII built new castles at Sandgate,
Deal and Walmer as defence against a French invasion. He built the castles to a uniform plan with a circular central tower, and flanking semi-circular turrets, making a ‘Clover Leaf’ pattern. 

Deal started to flourish in the mid-17th century. In the age of sailing ships, the sheltered Deal coast was a haven. At times, hundreds of ships anchored off the coast bringing business and prosperity to the area.


The town also gained fame for smuggling. In January 1784, the rampant smuggling prompted Prime Minister William Pitt to send soldiers to Deal. The soldiers found all the boats on shore, due to a storm and set light to them all. The prosperity of the smugglers meant that this caused only a temporary inconvenience. 
 
Deal railway station opened on the South Eastern Railway’s extension from Minster to Walmer on 1 July 1847…. more