Did you know?
- Whitstable divers were the first to explore the wreck of Henry VIII’s ill-fated flagship the Mary Rose in the 1830s (over 150 years before she was eventually raised to the surface). They were salvage divers, so they sold most of the items they found at auction!
- Pudding Pan Pots, dredged from the sea between Whitstable and Herne Bay, are the only evidence of Roman shipwrecks (of which there were at least 3 separate ones) off the British Isles. This Roman Samian ware wasn’t treated with great reverence by Whitstable fishing families instead they recycled them as oven dishes to bake a special kind of Lenten pie!
- The low tide seashore between Whitstable and Herne Bay is one of the best places in Britain to find Ice Age fossils including the tusks and teeth of the Woolly Mammoth. Can you find a tusk on display?
- The Canterbury to Whitstable Railway was the world’s first regular steam-powered passenger railway opening in 1830. It also boasted the world’s first railway bridge and season ticket.
- Whitstable is famous for its signature dish - oysters. But oysters in Victorian times were so cheap that children would collect the discarded shells and build ‘grotters’ in the street, sometimes decorated with flowers and glass fragments. They would stand by them with outstretched hands begging for money from passers-by, like the tradition of ‘penny for the guy’.
- In 1936, William Joyce spoke to a large and enthusiastic audience at the Foresters’ Hall (now the Museum & Gallery) on ‘Blackshirts and the Empire: friendship with Germany essential’. Joyce was Director of Propaganda for the British Union of Fascists, and later known as ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ for his wartime broadcasts from Germany – he was hanged as a traitor in 1946.
- Hammer Horror actor Peter Cushing was a much-loved resident of Whitstable for 35 years. As well as Dr Who and Sherlock Holmes, he played the sinister Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. But secretly he was wearing his bedroom slippers (a favourite museum exhibit), as the leather boots provided were too tight! (He was only filmed from the waist up, so they were not seen on screen).