Town mouse on the summer exodus

All London quits London…Russell Square sends its plate to the banker’s, and, leaving word that it is on the Continent, bargains for a first-floor and double-bedded rooms at Ramsgate.’ So wrote an 1865 guidebook. It’s difficult to imagine how our Ramsgate house could have accommodated another family as well as our own, but, had we been letting the main floors, we would have squeezed into the attic and basement, making the income that would keep us going for the rest of the year.

Jane Austen visited her brother Frank at Ramsgate. The first Lord of the Admiralty Lord Keith had a ‘marine villa’. An obelisk commemorates the one occasion when George IV used the port enough for the harbour to earn the title of ‘Royal’. Queen Victoria enjoyed childhood holidays here, caught typhus but nevertheless bought Frith’s Ramsgate Sands.

Will fashion return? To everyone’s astonishment, there is a new ferry route to Boulogne. An oyster bar has just opened. Faster train services to London are imminent. Not everyone is convinced. ‘Ramsgate?’ said the London taxi driver when my wife mentioned our destination. ‘That’s where we’re all trying to escape.’