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The first belfry was recorded in 1112. That was destroyed, and the second, 14th century version was said to be the finest north of Paris. That in turn was destroyed and the appearance of the one we see today dates from 1560 with the addition in 1627 of the slate-covered octagonal lantern; however, it had to be restored after the Germans dynamited it in 1944. Happily the bells had been removed and survived. The belfry is 47m high, square-shaped, of yellow brick. There is an arcaded porch at the entrance but above it is quite simple in design with corner turrets as the only adornment. The Lion of Flanders at the top was temporarily replaced during the Revolution by a Phrygian bonnet. The carillon of 50 bells strikes at 11am on Monday mornings. 193 steps take visitors to the top, past displays about the history of the belfry. Opening details are on the website. It is one of a group of belfries of the region which are now collectively a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Dover Priory Station
Dover Priory Train Station is located about a five minute walk from Dover town centre. It opened on the 22nd July 1861 and now handles around a million passengers a year. All of the trains here are operated by Southeastern Facilities include a cafe where hot and cold food and drinks are served and public toilets. There are two platforms within Dover Priory Station and there is a ticket office located just inside the entrance.
La Coupole was one of several sites in northern France built for the assembly and launching of V2 rockets in 1944/1945. Protection from bombing was a necessity, and most of the facility was protected by a huge concrete dome (hence "coupole"). Inevitably it was destroyed and the site was abandoned before any V2s could be launched. Today the dome and entrance tunnels are still visible, damaged and leaning, as they were left after the air raids. The interior has been converted into a museum which not only records the development and deployment of the V2s, but also life in occupied France. It also looks ahead to space technology and the moon landings which were a direct result of the V2 rocket technology. If you live near enough to the Channel to make a day-trip practical, then this is an ideal destination. It's only 45 minutes from Calais. Take the A26 (Paris, Reims) out of Calais and come off at the third exit. From there you wind your way along small roads and through several villages but every junction is sign-posted. It is open 9am - 6pm except July and August when it is 10am to 7pm. Closed over Christmas and New Year. It is popular with school parties, and the museum is not huge, so best times to go are weekends or school holidays. Entrance prices for 2006 are adults €9, children (5-16) €6, family €19.50. Allow at least 2 hours for the visit. There is some basic catering at the site, and a nice picnic area if you want to take your own. Alternatively there is a reasonable choice of restaurants nearby. The nearest town is St Omer. It should be of interest to all ages except very young children. All parts of the site are accessible to the disabled.
White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover are one of the most famous landmarks of Britain and they have been greeting visitors arriving in Dover since Roman times. National Trust (charity dedicated to protecting natural and historical heritage of England) own part of the site and help manage the privately owned sections. White Cliffs are not only a landmark but also site of special scientific interest, with rare animals and plants typical for chalky clifftop soil. The site provides good walking, spectacular views across the Channel and along the cliffs. The Visitors Centre contains shop, cafe, toilets, information panels and extensive parking. Entrance is free but there is a 1.50 GBP charge for car parking. Public transport is available to the Dover Eastern Docks and then a 10 minutes steep walk up to the cliffs.
Like its near neighbours Deal, Camber and the now vanished Sandown castles, Walmer was built in the 1530s by Henry VIII who was expecting an invasion from the continent. It shares the distinctive clover-leaf shape which helped defend against canon balls and provided gun platforms for return fire. Defence remained important along the south coast over the centuries, and Walmer was regularly garrisoned. It owes it excellent state of repair today, however, to its becoming the official residence of the Lord Wardens of the Cinque Ports in 1706. Famous holders of this honorary post include the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. Wellington died here, and there is a display of his personal items. Lord Wardens over the years furnished the official rooms many of which can be visited. They also had extensive gardens laid out, notable for their yew hedges and herbaceous borders. The Queen Mother's garden was created during her tenure and is particularly attractive. The castle is run by English Heritage. Opening hours vary through the year and details are available on the website, as are access facilities for the disabled. Allow about 2 hours for the visit, which is self-guided with an audio guide included in the entrance price. Refreshments and a shop are also on site.
Connaught Park is the first park to ever be built in Dover and is located across the road from Dover Castle. The park consists of landscaped gardens and concrete walkways which are suitable for disabled persons. The top half of the park has a number of small paths which lead around the park and provide excellent views across Dover. At the bottom half of the park there is a lake with a fountain in the middle. There is also an aviary which holds budgies, quail, finches and cockatiels. Concrete and grass tennis courts are available for visitors to use at a cost of £3.60 for adults and £1.30 for children. There is also a large children's play area in the lower section of the park. Admission is free and this attraction is open 7 days a week. .