Hello everyone

I’m back from our holiday in Dungeness, which is an amazing and very unique place and I’ve decided that this is not going to be anything to do with fashion, instead the post will be a showcase for this very unusual spot.

As I said in my last post Dungeness is a headland made up mainly of shingle, and you might expect from this description that housing would not feature in such an environment, rather that it would be preserved in its natural state to allow the vegetation and wildlife that is present to live and thrive. Well, the vegetation and wildlife is protected and the whole area is considered hugely important but there is housing of a very particular kind. Many of the single-storey houses were once fisherman’s wooden weather-boarded shacks. Then there are others that are made from old railway carriages and most of these came about through the ‘shack and track development’ that began after the First World War.

I remember studying this kind of development for a course I took at Brighton uni. In that course I studied the early days of a nearby town, Peacehaven, but the whole area of Romney Bay was also very much caught up in this innovative and creative housing development where people bought plots of land and built housing from scratch with little or no amenities. I rather admire that type of pioneer spirit and enthusiasm which now is virtually impossible to replicate what with all the rules and regulations that exist before one builds a house. Anyway while it is quite hard to find any original ‘shack’ dwellings in Peacehaven, Dungeness has many examples of this type of housing which I will be showing you in a couple of the photos below.

Here’s the cottage which is called Wi Wurri – rather appropriate I’d say!

It is actually much bigger than it looks from this photo and is in fact rather like a Tardis.

See that television – we didn’t watch one minute of television the entire week, which for a telly-addict like me is saying something. Instead the cottage is full of books and I looked at many and read several. Also in the evening we put on some music and sat around the kitchen table and talked and talked – it was so lovely.

Yes, there was endless opportunity for talking as we also had staying with us my son Peter, his partner Marion and baby Oscar!

Here in the ‘snug’ you can see some of the books that surrounded us giving the cottage such a special and distinct character. Mr F looks really comfortable – it was my favourite chair!

The whole place is stunning – oh and did I say, there’s a decommissioned nuclear power station very nearby? This is the view from the back garden to the power station.  And although there’s a garden shed in the immediate left of the photo, those white ‘shacks’ beyond the garden are in fact typical of the housing in Dungeness.

Every day we walked along the single road that led to The Pilot inn and this is what one sees. A vast expanse of flat shingle and vegetation.

And like this.

Dungeness is famous for Prospect Cottage owned and lived in by Derek Jarman the artist and film director whose muse, Tilda Swinton, has recently organised funding to keep Prospect Cottage and its wonderful garden maintained in perpetuity.

Here’s another shot of the garden.

Dungeness is also famous for some amazing sunsets. I’m very happy to say that we had wonderful weather for the UK and for the time of the year, and nearly every night the sunset was just fabulous. With nothing in the way, because of the 180 degree landscape , we saw a huge red sun sink lower and lower.

And then there was the rising of the sun. Here’s a watery sun appearing through the morning mist.

Here’s one of those converted railway carriages.

But there are also quite a few shacks that have been renovated to a very high standard.

Unfortunately these are the cottages that one can rent through Airbnb at exorbitant prices. I wonder what the locals think of these?

We also went on two trips outside Dungeness, which although I don’t regret, next time I come I shall stay put and just chill and absorb the atmosphere of the place. The first one was a trip on the delightful miniature Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. I rather think Pete and Marion had the right idea as they got off at the first station and walked back to The Pilot inn and from there watched several trains go past sitting in the glorious sunshine and sinking a pint or two. We meanwhile did the whole trip and, really, I consider it’s better to see the train puffing along in the distance rather than being on it!

The second trip was to Rye on a very hot day. Actually it’s a pretty little town but quite touristy and I rather wondered why we were there.

But it is picturesque, I grant you that. This is Rye’s famous cobbled street. The outing wasn’t totally wasted as I managed to find one item in a charity shop – a rather good retro dress – you’ll see it soon.

Pete and Marion left a day early and the cottage was soooo quiet after they’d gone! We went for one last walk.

First we turned right and had one last look at the lighthouse, so essential in the tricky waters of Romney Bay and the Dungeness headland. And then we turned and walked one last time to Prospect Cottage.

It was sunny but a cold offshore wind had got up which we hadn’t noticed leaving the cottage. Having boiled in Rye the previous day I rather wished I’d put on an extra layer!

But never mind, we walked briskly to Prospect Cottage and then turned and went back to Wi Wurri to pack and plan our next visit to Dungeness next year – because both Mr F and me, we can’t wait to go back!

That’s all for now.

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper

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40 thoughts on “My holiday in Dungeness

  • 28th September 2021 at 8:09 am
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    What an interesting corner of Britain, Penny. Thank you for your lively descriptions and photos.

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    • 29th September 2021 at 9:42 am
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      It’s a pleasure to share the wonderful holiday we’ve had in Dungeness – thanks 😀

      Reply
  • 28th September 2021 at 8:21 am
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    As an EF Benson fan I wouldn’t miss Rye but I couldn’t live in such a flat landscape. Certainly an interesting place for a complete change. Is there danger of flooding?

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    • 29th September 2021 at 9:49 am
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      I do love those EF Benson books and I did take a photo of Lamb House but the contrast of the crowds in Rye and the tea shops with the wildness of Dungeness was too much for me. I preferred that amazing flatness!

      The thing about Dungeness is that the headland is increasing in size as the tides take away the shingle from the power station to the headland on its left – locals say they’ll be walking to France one day! As for flooding – yes one day much of England’s coast will be under water, but there’s a very deep dip down the shingle to the sea at high tide. I rather think Camber Sands is in more danger as the land there is definitely below sea level.

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  • 28th September 2021 at 9:21 am
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    Another EF Benson fan here who would love to have swapped places with you for the trip to Rye. I very much enjoyed your photographs of an unusual and striking landscape. It would make a change for us too, as we live in the Yorkshire Dales.

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    • 29th September 2021 at 9:52 am
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      Rye is a very sweet little town and must be very much loved by fans of EF Benson (actually I love those books too) and tourists generally but the contrast with the unspoilt wildness of Dungeness was huge. I preferred the untidy wildness of Dungeness!

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  • 28th September 2021 at 9:59 am
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    Oh how wonderful, what a beautiful area right? And you’ve been to Rye! We always stay there…..well not for 2 years now. It is touristic, but we often go out of the session abs then it is so much nicer

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    • 29th September 2021 at 9:54 am
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      Oh yes, I think Rye out of season would be lovely. Actually Dungeness is apparently very busy in the summer months so I think later in the year is a good time to go to it. But we were so lucky with the weather and saw Dungeness at its best.

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  • 28th September 2021 at 10:07 am
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    AirBnB – the bane of a thriving community. It is a really good loop hole for investors in property though, as if you rent long term, do B and B, have a hotel you must have a licence which involves change of use of property from a family home – and all the safety certificates that mean the property is safe to live in. AirBnB requires NOTHING. An investor just buys any property and rents it at exhorbitant prices.
    The origional idea was to rent a room in your home, but that has been overun by organistions that see it as an easy way to make money and be unregulated.

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    • 29th September 2021 at 9:58 am
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      Yes, I remember that too, that it was about renting a room and the host was present in the house somewhere. Now it’s a racket. And all those shacks are sort of appropriate for Dungeness as they’re still all one-story and not much added, but it’s also quite clear they’re modernised and up-market. And the price is abhorrent – we looked at two of the shacks we walked past every day online and both were at £2600 for a week!!!!!!!

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  • 28th September 2021 at 10:13 am
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    Dungeness is such a special place – I love its bleak wildness. I first discovered it when staying in Camber for rock and roll weekend holidays. There was usually a ‘cruise’ of vintage 50s vehicles from Camber to the Britannia Inn where we enjoyed marvellous fish and chips and occasionally the infamous Dungeness Mud Pie when available.

    I stayed in Rye for a few days off season and loved all the vintage shops and interesting back streets. I’ve been meaning to stay in Dungeness itself and your blog has inspired me to make it happen. Thank you!

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:03 am
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      We can’t wait to go again and somehow we never had any fish and chips as my son and his partner are vegetarians and rather against eating fish after watching a documentary on the cruelty of fishing. The doc is on Amazon and I haven’t watched it as I do love fish and chips!

      Your rock and roll weekends sound amazing! I think another time I’d go to Rye well out of season ie, the winter as I couldn’t find the back streets and any vintage shops because it was too hot and crowded. Another time.

      And you simply must stay in Dungeness – try the Wi-wurri website first as the Airbnb shacks are so expensive http://www.wiwurri-dungeness.co.uk

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  • 28th September 2021 at 12:02 pm
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    Love the interesting details of your Dungeness trip! Such an interesting landscape. And, yes, the library and chair look totally comfy…just add a cup of tea and a biscuit! We are heading off for our own weeklong outing this Friday to visit my sister and her family near the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It will also include meeting up with our son, his wife, and their four kids who will also be visiting in the area. We will bring the four grandkids home with us and keep them overnight for a couple of days…giving their parents a bit of a break. Looking forward to it all.
    So glad that you enjoyed your days away and look forward to your fashion score!
    Charlene H

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:13 am
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      It was the most delightful holiday Charlene and made special not only because of the unique surroundings but also to be with my son and his partner and the baby, it was just lovely. Thanks and enjoy your break too and your four grandkids – wow, hope they’re not too much of a handful! But I know it’s all worth it. It’s lovely to be a grandma!

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  • 28th September 2021 at 4:59 pm
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    Love your interesting post and photos on Dungeness. I’ve visited it many years ago, ridden in the train and stayed in Rye too. I’m in the Midlands and tend to go in different directions. You’ve really captured the beauty of the place which may be unconvential to some. Rye and Dungeness feature in old children’s books by Malcolm Saville which you may have heard of and they too capture the essence of the place. Have followed your posts for some years as I love charity shop shopping, individual style, and good writing. I too have a baby Oscar for a grandson born at the beginning of lockdown.

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:17 am
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      Oh wow, re: your grandson Oscar, it’s a great name isn’t it. Our Oscar will be 11 months old on 2nd October and I can’t believe he’ll be 1yr-old soon – they grow up quickly!

      I shall have to look out those children’s books. Dungeness is so lovely but someone said to me that it’s like marmite you either love it or hate it, and I think that must be true as it is a wild untidy place, but gosh I loved it!

      Thank you so much for reading me – you’re much appreciated

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  • 28th September 2021 at 5:03 pm
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    Loved seeing your photos, especially the beautiful sky with the lighthouse. Now I sort of feel like I’ve been there, too – thank you for the armchair trip! A book by Jacqueline Winspear, Messenger of Truth, takes place partly in Dungeness. Includes the railway cottages and descriptions of the shingled windy beach and area. She researches her locations and situations, and I enjoy visiting England this way, since our UK trip has been delayed 2 years now. Not complaining, would rather wait until things are settled.

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:23 am
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      The whole area is an amazing landscape and I’ve just looked up the book you mention and will get it. Half the photos were taken by Mr F and half by me – I must say that the iPhone camera is very good which helps to get those shots.

      I’m glad you were able to ‘visit’ England and enjoy seeing Dungeness at its best because we were so lucky with the weather. It’s changed back this week to rain and it’s much cooler. But it’s nice day today – the sun is shining. Thanks Evie 😀

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  • 28th September 2021 at 5:03 pm
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    Loved seeing your photos, especially the beautiful sky with the lighthouse. Now I sort of feel like I’ve been there, too – thank you for the armchair trip! A book by Jacqueline Winspear, Messenger of Truth, takes place partly in Dungeness. Includes the railway cottages and descriptions of the shingled windy beach and area. She researches her locations and situations, and I enjoy visiting England this way, since our UK trip has been delayed 2 years now. Not complaining, would rather wait until things are settled.

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  • 28th September 2021 at 7:40 pm
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    I’m not far from this side of the country, nice to see these photos of said venues. The RHD railway is a good Christmas ride to see Father Christmas – my grandkids love it now. Glad you had a super time away. Jacqui x

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:25 am
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      Dungeness is just amazing, Jacqui, we loved it.

      Oh yes, when Oscar is older I think one of those themed train rides would be great. A bit nearer to us is the Bluebell railway and I’ve never forgotten my other grandson’s delight when he had his trip on it. He was about 3yrs-old then so in 2 years time we’ll make sure Oscar gets a trip to remember!

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  • 28th September 2021 at 8:43 pm
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    I so enjoyed these photos of Dungeness, such an interesting and starkly beautiful landscape. Also the cottages, I am glad they are preserved them as they were, here in the US homes are always being torn down and bigger and bigger ones built. And the skies in the morning and night were spectacular. How wonderful to spend so much meaningful time with family! I can see why you are so eager to return. Darby

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:32 am
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      About half the shacks in Dungeness look very original – they would have been put up any time from the First World War onwards. But half of them have been done up, Wi Wurri is a perfect example of how to do it, beautifully and sympathetically arranged with a lovely feel to it as it was the writing retreat of her late husband, and so appropriate for the landscape, but some we looked at on the Airbnb website were modernised inside to a very high degree and the prices were a near disgrace – so high.

      It was a very meaningful holiday to not only be in the extraordinary landscape of Dungeness but to be with my son and his family – that was just lovely. Will remember it for a very long time.

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  • 29th September 2021 at 9:33 am
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    Thanks for the interesting post Penny. I have missed our short trips to different parts of the UK as there are so many places we have never been to, Dungeness being one of them. I love the huge skies that you see in places like that and the ‘cottage’ looked lovely.
    On another topic I’ve just started to take a Collagen supplement to see if it does anything for my nails hair and skin. I’ve got enough for 40 days so hoping I’ll know by then if it’s doing anything. Reviews are very positive on the whole but we will see!

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    • 29th September 2021 at 10:36 am
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      Dungeness was so unspoilt and wild and untidy and really lovely, much helped by the weather – we were so lucky. Can’t wait to book again but we’re just pondering including my daughter and partner plus 16-yr-old grandson as dates are tricky with school and college. Hopefully we can get them to come as well – would be nice to do it.

      Interesting about Collagen – let me know how it goes.

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  • 29th September 2021 at 3:51 pm
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    The cottage where you stayed looks stunning. My mum lived in a village on the West Sussex coast and I can remember being fascinated by the converted railway carriages that could be found there. There is something about Dungeness that is very appealing, although I haven’t visited – yet!
    I’m actually in France at the moment, can’t quite believe it!

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    • 3rd October 2021 at 8:55 am
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      Oh how wonderful that you got back to France, it’s been such a long time.

      Dungeness is a simply wonderful place and I’d say stay if you can, and definitely don’t come in the height of the season as it was still quite crowded when we were there on Saturday and Sunday with people visiting and parking their cars on the one narrow road and this was late September. Spring would be nice and you’d see the flowers blooming in the garden of Prospect Cottage.

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    • 3rd October 2021 at 8:56 am
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      Thanks. It was a great place to be Mireille, it has such an unusual landscape

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  • 1st October 2021 at 6:57 am
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    Beautiful photos Penny, the sunrises and sunsets are stunning at this time of year. Fascinating glimpse of Dungeness. I knew nothing about it except for Derek Jarman and the nuclear power station. The story behind the shacks is so interesting. Glad you picked up a retro dress and looking forward to seeing it. Have a good weekend! x

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    • 3rd October 2021 at 9:00 am
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      The whole place is really unique, as those converted railway carriages and shacks are hard to find nowadays (very hard in Peacehaven – I found one shack that is currently a garage) but they’re just there in Dungeness and mostly well preserved and lived in. We shall definitely go again.

      I’ll show you the dress next post but may not wear it as it’s sleeveless – brrr!

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  • 1st October 2021 at 2:07 pm
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    Sold!

    I’d wanted to visit Prospect Cottage but now I’d just like to stay there. It does look wonderful and I admire the unusual housing. Your cottage looked lovely, so comfortable and cosy. How lovely your son and his family were able to go with you.

    I once heard a very interesting play/series on BBC Radio 4 about a community of people living in exactly the type of housing you’ve described. I bet it was Dungeness the writer had in mind!

    Have a great weekend,
    xx

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    • 3rd October 2021 at 9:06 am
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      Oh yes, staying is by far the best thing but take care you look beyond the Airbnbs as they’re so highly priced. Here’s the Wi-wurri website – do have a look http://www.wiwurri-dungeness.co.uk

      You’ll see it’s booked through all the 2022 summer holidays but I’d say staying out of season has to be best as apparently it gets quite crowded with sightseers during August. It’s such a unique area that will stay with me for a long time. No shops though – take all your supplies. Mind you Sainsbury’s delivers to the door and we had a mega delivery for the week we were there!

      Have a good Sunday which looks as though it’ll be a slightly better than yesterday!

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  • 3rd October 2021 at 12:38 am
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    Dear Penny,

    Please bring more of these non-fashion related posts, this one got me completely obsessed with this beautiful and raw stretch of land! I started googling but your travelogue is by far the warmest and most entertaining info I’ve found!

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    • 3rd October 2021 at 9:08 am
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      Thank you so much for those kind words Barbara, it was such a unique place and the wild, flat and untidy landscape is just perfect for taking photographs. Thanks again!

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  • 4th October 2021 at 7:08 am
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    We visited Dungeness while on a mini break to Rye last year. I loved it and would certainly think of staying there one time. Where did you find the cottage you stayed in? Love your photos and the cottage looks wonderful inside too. An extraordinary area which is hard to put in to the normal words to describe.

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    • 5th October 2021 at 8:00 am
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      I found the cottage, Wi Wurri, advertised in the London Review of Books of all places, but no surprise as the cottage was the writing retreat of the late playwright Snoo Wilson. Link here

      http://www.wiwurri-dungeness.co.uk

      It is the most delightful cottage and is roomier than you see from the website photos and it’s not a ghastly Airbnb price either. I’m trying to get a holiday organised in the school holidays to enable my other grandchild plus his parents to see it with us all together, but school holidays are mostly booked up. It’ll be no problem out of school holiday times, but I’m actually considering booking for 2023!

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      • 5th October 2021 at 11:49 am
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        I have just booked a mini break there at the end of November. Thanks for all the information and pictures. Can’t wait! We spent a few hours in Dungeness last year and never dreamt we’d find somehere like this to stay.

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        • 5th October 2021 at 1:35 pm
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          You will absolutely love the cottage – btw, the floorboards creak a bit – but overall I’ve never stayed in such an atmospheric place as Dungeness and the cottage itself is just lovely (with two bathrooms) and you have that outlook from the sun-room and the wood-burning stove in the snug. Also the rooms are filled with books – never seen so many. Enjoy!

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  • 6th October 2021 at 7:56 pm
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    What a lovely post and a trip down memory lane, we used to stay at Great Stone when the children were little and loved going to the Dungeness lighthouse and on the train! Fabulous memories and perfect holiday location for children. Michelle x

    Reply

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