History of Broadstairs and St Peter's

Broadstairs Main Sands c.1910Broadstairs was the fishing hamlet associated with the inland village of St Peter's established around the parish church which was built circa 1080AD. 

Anciently it was called Bradstow.  This was derived from the “broad stairs” carved in the chalk cliff, that led from the sands to the 12th century shrine of St Mary situated above the cliffs. The town spreads from Poorhole Lane in the west, (named from the mass graves dating from the Black Death), to Kingsgate in the north, (named after the landing of King Charles II in 1683), & to Dumpton in the south, (named after the yeoman Dudeman who farmed there in the 13th century).

Reading or Redyng Street was established by Flemish refugees in the 1600’s.
St Peter's came within the jurisdiction of the Cinque Ports under a 15th century charter.The location of Broadstairs led to a comment by Daniel Defoe in 1723, “Broadstairs has a population of around 300, 27 of them being in the trade of fishing, & the others appear to have no means of support.  I am told that the area is a hot bed of smuggling”. The ‘free trade’ was not stamped out until the 1840’s. 

In the middle of the 18th century gentlemen & gentleman farmers started to arrive in the locality, & built seaside residencies such as Holland House, (1760), Stone House, (1764), Pierremont Hall, (1785), & East Cliff Lodge, (1794).

By the 1850’s the professional classes had arrived, & steady town expansion took place, the population doubling in 50 years to 3,000.  As the town grew, artists, writers, & poets started to visit as did clerks, lawyers & architects, causing more accommodation for rent to be built, & the seaside holiday industry started. 

The town continued to expand & by 1910 over 10,000 people were living in Broadstairs & St Peter's.  The fresh sea air brought an influx of convalescent homes for children at the end of the 19th century, many lasting well into the 1950’s.

For further information on local history, see the displays at


At CRAMPTON TOWER The Broadway, Broadstairs
CT10 2AB

Please email or telephone the Town Council for details on how to contact Mr Barrie Wootton (town historian).