Monday 9 March 2009

Shakespeare Cliff

Postmarked Folkestone, dated 8 October 1907.
"Where Sea Meets Land"
Shakespeare Cliff - Dover

Unused, undated.  this series of cards is from about 1918.
Dover - Shakespeare's Cliff
YMCA Series

Unused and undated.  At a guess, it may have been bought in the 1970s.
Shakespeare Cliff, Dover
ET 2785

I thought this was an interesting set of cards showing Shakespeare Cliff between Dover and Folkestone.  the cliff gets its name from William Shakespeare's reference to it in "King Lear":
Come on, sir; here's the place: stand still.  How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
The fishermen that walk upon the beach
Appear like mice;
King Lear, Act IV scene VI - The Country near Dover

The Dover to London railway line runs right along the coast at this point.  In spite of appearances, the beach is shingle rather than sand, though I suppose at a distance it would be hard to tell.  It's also interesting to see how cliff falls and erosion have changed the shape of the headland.  The first two pictures look much the same but the third shows a very different shape.  The sepia card shows recent cliff falls at the base very clearly.  It is a constant problem in the area.

In the 1880 Shakespeare Cliff was the site of an early attempt to dig a channel tunnel.  Much more recently, it became the same again.  It is the UK end of the Channel Tunnel, started there in in 1988 and finally opened in 1994.  This is a picture of the area looks now.

The flat section at sea level is all reclaimed land using waste from the tunnel's construction.  It is called Samphire Hoe.  The buildings are the ventilation system for the tunnel.

I can recommend the Geograph site for anyone interested in images of the British Isles.


  1. I always enjoy seeing different images of the same place over the years. I have a similar post about City Park in Dubrovnik, Croatia, but they cheated me: they repeatedly used the same image!

  2. Well I actually do suspect they've done the same in the first two. If you look at the cliff edge, it is identical. I think they've both been taken from an earlier image. The older card here looks to me to have had the sea painted int. It doesn't look natural. the birds too.

  3. Yes, I like this landscape.It looks like the cliffs of Etretat in Normandy...

  4. @Eddy, I suppose they were once joined - they aren't so very far away from each other.

  5. I know Dover very well, so it was fascinating to see the different cards.


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