A turn in the road and an unexpected vista of delight can simply take ones breath away. However - as David Philpott found out this week - too much eulogising about new discoveries can destroy your credibility if you do not get your facts right!

A LITTLE WHITE LIE IN WHITE CLIFFS COUNTRY

I told a lie on Saturday.  I did not mean to.  It’s just that I was misinformed - or more to the point, I had misinformed myself.

As the road swept down to Kingsgate Bay with the sandy cove nestling beneath the curving promenade - the natural arch in the chalky cliffs fair took our breath away.

“That’s the image that Visit Kent use for those brilliant adverts” I told Karan with all the certainty of a Calvinist preacher.  The view was magnificent and had we seen it in a travel brochure for say – The Algarve – we would have been bemoaning why such grandeur does not exist on our own fair isle.

“What adverts?” she asked.

“Oh, they are brilliant.  Saatchi and Saatchi have done this amazing campaign for Visit Kent.  You see the posters on railways platforms and in train carriages.  Bit controversial really since they did not use a Kent based design agency, but stunning nevertheless” I continued as I looked for the Big White Lion.

“Look for the Big White Lion” Tim had said.  Holland Cottage is  just set back from the road behind the lion.

I had been trying to get together with Tim again ever since we stumbled upon each other - after 20 something years - in the Bedfordshire village of Moggerhanger a few months ago.  The fact that he had been living in Broadstairs since the late 1990’s and I had been living in Ashford for the past 7 years evaporated all the usual excuses for not making the effort of meeting up again.

We parked just off the road on his forecourt and took in the vista once again.

Stunning.

Tim greeted us, gave us the tour of his exquisite house – complete with two wonderfully quirky holiday flats - and then gave us the history of his home.  This is best summarised by lifting his own words direct from his website:

Holland House, Kingsgate

This noble pile, originally the home of Henry Fox, the first Lord Holland, is well known to local resident and holiday-maker alike. Although still a building of elegance and charm, the property differs widely from its original concept which was that of a luxurious Roman villa with an imposing Doric portico of twelve columns of Portland stone.

It was here at Kingsgate in 1762 that Henry Fox (he was created Baron Holland of Foxley the following year) added to his already vast Thanet estates by the purchase of a large tract of land from Robert Whitfield. He commissioned Thomas Wynn, an amateur architect, to restyle and rebuild the small house he had acquired in the hollow overlooking Kingsgate Bay in the shape of Tully’s Formian villa on the Bay of Baiae, Italy, and filled it with many objects including antiquities from Egypt.

On Lord Holland’s death in 1774, the house and estate passed to his third son, Charles James Fox, who quickly disposed of the estate and the contents of the mansion. The property was brought by John Powell, one of Lord Holland’s executors, and was subsequently sold, in 1807, to a couple of speculators who had grandiose plans to turn it into a hotel. Though this scheme never materialized, the house was drastically altered; the portico was eventually removed and the building divided into three dwellings.

Holland House had had many a distinguished resident Sir Luke Fildes, R.A., artist and illustrator of Dickens last novel, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", lived there for ten years. William Makepeace Thackeray occupied the property for a short time, and Royalty too dwelt within its walls in the personages of the Duke and Duchess of Fife.

In World War II the building was occupied by the Army and the private residents living there at the time were evacuated. Now it once again provides its fortunate occupants with delightful accommodation facing the sea cradled between the Captain Digby Inn and Kingsgate Castle, both of which owe their existence to the whimsical craze for the creation of "follies" indulged in by the first Baron Holland of Foxle some two centuries ago.

http://www.broadstairsbeach.com/index.html

 

“Did you know that that image, that vista of the arch in the chalky cliffs, is the one used by Visit Kent to promote the county?” I asked Simone as she cut up afternoon cake and prepared tea and coffee?  She did not.  She seemed surprised.

“I will send you the link when I get home” I said.

And it is in searching for that link that it slowly dawned on me that I had relayed to them all an untruth, for it was not Kingsgate Bay, but in fact Botany Bay - just around the corner - that Saatchi and Saatchi had used as an iconic image of the County of Kent.

Talking of white lies, or perhaps accidental lies, the truth is that had London’s most elite advertising agency chosen to use the chalky arch at Kingsgate Bay, the impact would have been no less.  As I have already said.  Stunning.