This bijoux museum is hidden down a side road and is often overlooked. But as soon as you step over the threshold and breathe in that delightfully musty aroma, history buffs will know they’re in for a treat.
Deal’s maritime history is explored, including Admiral Horatio Nelson’s stay here and his liaisons with Emma Hamilton, alongside the fate-changing dangers of the “ship-swallowing” Goodwin Sands. There are cannonballs, anchors, boats, flags, and figureheads aplenty, plus details of the nefarious pursuits of the local smugglers, including a diagram of a coat made to hide just about any contraband.
Model boats, a replica of a World War I bunker and history of the Royal Marines are housed in an adjacent building. The local history section is a mix of the marvelously mundane—plates and dishes from old Deal establishments—and wonderfully eccentric, including a stuffed rat playing the flute and a shoe large enough to fit a giant.
You’ll also see not one, but two Hooden Horses. Hoodening is an old folk custom found specifically in East Kent, southeast England. A wooden hobby horse on a pole is worked by a man under a sackcloth, its jaws making a distinctive “clack clack” noise that terrifies children. Originally, the horse collected money in its mouth, but now it generally clacks along to accompanying folk music.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Thursday to Monday from April through October.