Whitstable Castle has been central to the life of the town for many years.
Built in 1790, it began life as the seaside holiday home of Charles Pearson, a London entrepreneur. Pearson was involved in building the Canterbury to Whitstable railway (with George Stephenson). Pearson built a hotel close to the end of the railway line, which is today The Pearson’s Arms Public House.
Another colourful owner of Tankerton Towers – it’s original name – from 1836, was London millionaire businessman Wynn Ellis. He was a flamboyant and well-known figure and a Liberal MP. Upon his death in 1875, his possessions were sold by Christie’s Auction House and his ‘Old Masters’ bequeathed to the National Gallery. However, they were found to be skillful copies and relegated to the store rooms, where they remain to this day.
His son (the Rev Arthur Graystone) later inherited the house and a huge fortune. The family has an imposing mausoleum in the churchyard at All Saints Church.
In 1935, Whitstable Urban District Council bought the castle and used it as civic offices. In 1975, at the instigation of the Whitstable Society, it was cleaned up and reclaimed by the people of Whitstable for community use.
It reopened in autumn 2010 after a lengthy restoration project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Canterbury City Council.
The gardens are now open for the enjoyment of the public, and the castle hosts many classes, community meetings, parties, weddings and events. The Orangery tearooms serve coffee, cakes and light lunches, and take advantage of the wonderful views over the Whitstable Bowling Club green to the sea beyond.
For more information, including opening times and contact details, visit Whitstable Castle.
Published: Monday 25 September
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