Dover, England

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Dover (Derivation: Old Celt for a stream, the Dour.) is a town and seaport on the coast of Kent overlooking the narrowest part of the English Channel – called the Straits of Dover. It is England’s busiest passenger port, and has been for all of England’s history. There is evidence of a pre-Roman settlement and the ruins of a Roman lighthouse are among the oldest in Britain. There was a Saxon fort there and the great Norman castle still stands above the harbour. It was one of the original five Cinque Ports (with Hythe, Hastings, Romney and Sandwich)

It was over-run by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings during the course of their incursions and the French attacked at various times during the Middle Ages. In World War II it was the most heavily bombed town in England after London.

The White Cliffs of Dover, the line of chalk cliffs where the South Downs meet the English Channel, are symbolic of the whole country to English returning home, and a line of hope in hard times, as immortalised in the 1941 song, sung by Vera Lynn at the height of the German attacks:

There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see.
  • The Battle of Dover, fought off Dover in 1217, between English and French fleets relieved Dover Castle which was holding out against a French invasion force which controlled the rest of south-east England. It helped secure the young Henry III on the throne of England.
  • The Battle of Dover (or Battle of Goodwin Sands), fought off Dover on 19th May 1652 was the opening battle of the First Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch were forced to withdraw after some hours of fighting.
  • The Battle of Dover Strait was a naval engagement fought in the strait on the night of 20th April 1917, in which 2 British destroyers fought off an incursion by 12 German torpedo boats.
  • Dover sole (solea solea) is a European flatfish, highly prized in London culinary circles – so called because its main source of supply enters England through Dover.
  • ”Dover Beach” (1867) is a poem written by the Englishman, Matthew Arnold, concerning his despair at the lessening of religious faith in the world of his day, and the importance of personal commitment to another. Samuel Barber set it to music (1931) as a song for soloist and string quartet.

Reference

  • "Brewer's Britain and Ireland" 2005 pp333/4
  • Warner Classics Cat 50999695233590
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