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99, Victoria St., S.W., and 33, King William St., E.G. 


" Hero hostile elements tumultuous rise, 
And lawless floods rebel against the skies; 
Till hope expires, and peril and dismay 
Wave their black ensigns o'er the wat'ry way." 



DUKE OF EDINBURGH, E.G., K.T., &c., &c., 






EN^Ll'sH roCAL 


Thk oriifinal I'llilitin of this work was qiiifkly 
exhausted, aiul the Publishers feel sure that the 
piiblir will appreciate a new edition, which is prac- 
tically a re[)licH of the l>rig;il>a^ edition, at a lower 


In" a great commercial country like England it is 
perhaps only natural to suppose that anything and 
everything concerning her ships, her sailors, and her 
commerce would be a source of much interest to, at 
least, a fairly large section of the community. It was 
therefore thought that a sketch might not be alto- 
gether unacceptable embracing the history, legendary 
as well as accredited, of a singular region which for 
centuries has been only too celebrated as the most 
dangerous spot on the British coasts, and which is 
known to have been, and indeed still is, the " grave of 
many a tall and stately ship," together with its crew 
and cargo. Nothing of the kind, so far as the writer is 
aware, has hitherto ever been attempted ; for, except- 
ing short notices in county histories, encyclopaedias, 
gazetteers, guide books, and in Mr. Whymper's work 
on ' The Sea,' the famous " Goodwins " have never 
yet been made the subject of any complete account 
dealing historically with the Sands, and the remarkable 
events of which their immediate surroundings have 
been so often the theatre during the last eight hundred 

In the following pages the fanciful legends and 
stories of the origin of the Sands and their connection 
with the " Isle of Lomea " (the " Insula Infera " of the 


Komans), together with the Lest known historical facts, 
bearing upon the whole question, have been carefully 
brought together. To these have been added many 
curious and quaint details, with accompanying illustra- 
tions, regarding some of the extraordinary schemes 
which have been proposed, from time to time, for 
reclaiming, and even, huilding on, these loose and 
shifting banks ; with much interesting information 
appertaining to the Sands and the neighbouring coasts, 
referring generally to the entire subject. Observations 
will also be found on the early origin, in the thirteenth 
century, of the East Kent " Hovellers," and also on 
the lightships, beacons, and buoys, placed as sentinels 
to warn mariners off these dangerous and fatal shoals. 

I must beg leave to express my warmest thanks and 
acknowledgments to John Inglis, Esq., the Secretary 
to the Corporation of Trinity House, not only for the 
very great assistance which I have derived from 
reference to the library books and official records of 
that Corporation — access to which was always most 
readily permitted — but also for the untiring courtesy 
which I have invariably experienced at his hands. 

To Charles Dibdin, Esq., F.E.G.S., Secretary to the 
" Koyal National Lifeboat Institution," my best thanks 
are also due for obligingly furnishing me with the 
Reports of the Institution, and other documents 
relating to the work of the Society, from which I have 
derived very much useful and interesting information. 

To many private friends also I am greatly indebted, 
not only for sound practical suggestions, but for 
valuable and encouraging help. 

G. B. G. 

Hastixqs, 1885. 





The celebrity of the Goodwin Sands — Their evil reputation 
for centuries — Their use — Their position — Dimensions — 
Composition — Sir J. H. Felly's remarkable experiment — 
Depth of clay below the surface — Opinions on their origin 
— Waste of clitfs — The Sands formerly an island — Not 
quicksands — Oeneral appearance — One vast "Golgotha" 
— Buried wealth — A natural breakwater to the " Downs" 1 



The Sands originally an island — Ccast-line much changed — 
Three islands mentioned by ancient writers — Now one 
only remaining — Earl Godwine's connection with the 
Sands — Hasted's careless statement — Isle of Lomea 
destroyed by earthquake, or other natural convulsion — 
Estuary of Kutupium, now dry laud — Portns Rutupinus 
— Various ways of spelling this name — Regulbium — 
Novthmuth — Wantsum — Testimony of old writers — 
Legendary stories — Earl Godwine's connection with 
Lomca — Neglfct of the See of Canterbury — ^ir Thomas 
Morc's Commission — Latimer's sermon — Historical state- 
ments — Fearful storms in 1014 and 1099 — Early historical 
writ^'rs — Sir J. H. Pelly's experiment — Ojiinions on the 
origin of the Sands — The "Trinity House" — Cricket 
matches placed on the Sands — A cycling run — 
in the ^ands ........ 15 


the' downs. 

Origin of the name — Dimensions — The Sands a breakwater — 
Formerly a rendezvous for the Royal fleets — Old Naval 
Yard and Naval Hospital at Deal — Earthquakes and 



wateispuuts — Great storms — Tlie Downs a general battle- 
gruuud— Caisar's fleet — The Yy kings — The first regular 
naval engagement between England and France — Various 
others — Sandwich sacked and burnt twice — Earl of 
Warwick — Peikin AVarbeck's fleet — Sir Andrew Barton 
— Inniiense fliet of Henry VIII. — Fleet of Charles V.— 
Life saved by a Deal boat in 16G3 — Pirates and piracy in 
the Downs — Lord William Somerset robbed — Reprisals — 
The *' Invincible Armada" — -Its Hnal defeat in the Downs 
— Prince Cliarles Edward's attack on Deal — Van Tromp— 
Blake — Severe engagement in the Downs — Freucii and 
English fleets combined — A " scare " — Commodore Wylde's 
defeat — The ship 'Victory' — Eevievv of Deal luggers in 
1842 — Various landings — Defences of tlie Downs — 
Walmer, D(al and Sandown Ca~tles — Colonel Hutchinson 
— Armed liijgers — Volunteers, naval and military — 
Harbours of refuge — A^arions schemes — I'nsh, Condy, and 
otiiers — Antiquities discovered in the Downs — Proverbs 
and sayings ........ 40 



The term "Hovcllcr" — Obscurity of its derivation — First 
establishment of a " Coastguard " by Edward III. — 
Probable derivation of the name — The modern " Hnveller" 
— His work and duties — Care and skill exhibited in 
approaching a wreck in a storm — Difliculties in returning 
— Scanty rewards — False charges often brought against 
Hovtllcrs — True character — Snniggling pi'opensities of 
former days — Their great bravery and noble endurance . 92 




Great loss of life anmially on the Samls — Difficulty of fixing 
a light or a beacon — (ireat necessity of some kind of a 
"Warning Beacon" — First step taken by Trinity House 
at end of 17th century — Impossibility of building on the 
Sands — Attempt given nj) — First iightsldp e>tal)lishcd in 
17'.»5 — Two first " Warning Bea?ons" erected — Bush'8 



sngsested Beacon — Admiral (then Captain) Bullock's First 
Beacon in 1840 — Simplicity of design — Dimensions— IJuu 
down in 1844 — Ite-erected same year — -Disappeared iu 
1847 — Bush's Lighthouse Beacon, 1841 — Construction — 
Floating of thn great caisson — Cast adrift and sunk — 
Raised — Rebuilt — -Towed out to Sands in July, l-'^42 
— Run down in October, 1842 — Again rebuilt in 1844 — 
Description — "Living and sleeping" on the Goodwins — • 
Faulty position of beacon — Site chosen by the Admiralty, 
not by Iklr. Bush — The structure ultimately removed — 
Steward's Beacon, 1843 — Failure — "Walker's First Beacon, 
1844— Removed in 1850— Walker's Second Beacon, 1847 
— Waslied awaj' in two months— Trinity House Beacon, 
1849 — Stood thirty years — Disappeared in 1879 —The last 
of the Beacons ........ 108 


Goodwin Buoys — Herbert's Patent Bu.-.y— Immense one 
placed at South Sand Head — Courtney's Automatic, or 
" Whistling Buoy " — Idea not new — Luminous Paint 
Buoys — Experiments — Luminous Buoy run down in 
Harwich Harbour — Pintsch's Gas Buov — Bells on Buovs 
— Legi'nd i)f the Inch Cape Bell— The Bell Rock— Bells 
on Li2;hthouses — The new Eddvstuue . , . . 14G 


Hamblin and Avery's first Lightsliij) at the Nore — The second 
Lightship at the Dudgeon — Bad system of mooring — 
Bridle-chains, mushroom anchors, and stone and irnn 
sinkers — First Lightship on the Goodwins, Korth Sand 
Head — Second at the Gull Stream — Third at South Sand 
H< ad— Fourth at East Gondwin — Cost and general 
arrangement of Lightships — Crews — Pay — Dangers to 
v/hich Liglitships are exposed — Cmstaut watchfulness 
necessary — Spare Lightshiii always kept rcMdy fitted — 
Lady Brassey's account oi tlie Harbour of Mouie Video — 
Gross neglect of the lighthouse keeper . ,-> . 155 





Evil reputation of the Samls — Wrecks and lifeboat services — 
Loss of a Avhole fleet of men-of-war — Great storm of 1703 
— Destruction of the first Eddystone Lighthouse — H.M.S. 
'Carlisle' blown up — Charges against the Lords of the 
Admiralty — Earl of Dundonald — -Wreck of the 'Aurora' 
transport — ' Briti>h Queen' — ' Shepherdess' — Nameless 
Wiecks — 'Mary Wright' — 'Eleanore' — 'Queen of the 
Tvne* — 'Violet' — Rev. John Gilmore's 'Storm Warriors' 
— 'Gutenberg' — Poem entitled " li'outine"— Wreck of 
tlie ' Hon! Svern ' — Of an American clipper — ' Mia Madre ' 
— ' Leda ' — ' Colina ' — ' Shannon ' — ' Paul Boy ton ' — 
' Fredin '— ' Ganges '—Wreck of the ' Eftbrt '—Extra- 
ordinary rescue of six hovellers — Wreck of a Portuguese 
brig — ' Mary ' — ' Linda ' — ' Amoor ' — ' Providen tia ' — 
' Aurora Borealis ' — Excessive competition — Great 
ignorance — A "quiet sleep" in Trinity Bay — Reckless 
sailing — Shij)s grounded on Sands p'.iUed off again . . 165 



Original inventor — First patent in 1785 — Apathy of the 
Admiralty — Lukin's tomli — Fearful sliipwreck at South 
Shields — First Lifeboat started in 17'.lO — Duke of Nortli- 
mnlerlaud's Lifeboat — Rewards to Greathead — Sir 
William Hillary's appeal — Foundation of the Lifeboat 
Institution in 1824 — First Lifeboat built untler tlie 
Institution in 1820, statiom.'d in the Isle of Man — Three 
others followed — Gradual progress — Gradual decline — 
Another terrible wreck at Sliields in 1H4'J — Capsizing of 
Lifeboat ami loss of life — Re-organization of Lifeboat 
Institution — Prize competition — Prize won by P.eiching — 
Imjiroveil on by Peakt — Revival of Lifeboat interest — 
" Civil Service Lifeboat FunI" — Cost of Boats — Descrip- 
tion — lm,)rovements — Methods of propulsion — Transport- 
ing carriage — P>oa '.-house — Appliances — Lifeboat nearest 
the Saiids — Interesting statistics .... 21C 





Manin's " suspeoded " Lighthouse, 1829 — Bush's scheme, 
1842— "The Prince of Wales' Harbour of Refuge"— Re- 
claiming of land — Proposed erection of Liuhthousss and 
Buildings — Rush's siuile Lighthouse, 1852 — Stevenson's 
"Rubble Cone" as foundation fur Lighthouse — Captain 
Vetch s Breakwater and " Spinal Embankment " sclienie, 
1844 — Formaiion of sunken wells for foundat on in 1843 
— Rennie's proposed Breakwater on the Brake Sand — A 
project for fortification suggested by the Duke of 
Wellington, 1843 — Many and various proposals submilted 
to the T'rinity House Corporation since 1845 . . 



i. Dr. Potts' process of sinking hollow piles 

2. Waste of cliffs ; encroachments of the sea 

3. Eichborough Castle . 

4. Earl Godwine's death 

5. The Godwitie Legend 

6. Sandwich Haven 

7. Salvage of anchors . 

8. Cff-sar's invas on 

9. Sir Andrew Barton . 

10. Destruction uf Invincible Anuada 

11. Van 'I'romp's defeat in the Downs 

12. The Warden of Pilots 

13. The Barons of the Cmque Port , 

14. Smuggling , . . . 

15. Bullock's Safety Beacon . 

16. Chnice of site for Bush's " Lighthouse Beaco 

17. Admiral Basil Beaumont . 

18. Wreck of a whole fleet 

19. Accident? and misadventures 

20. The Lifeboat . 



( ^vi ) 



Captain Bullock's Safety Beacon . {Front 
Chart (Large) . 
Map — PoRTUs Rutupinus (Small) 
Modern Coast . 
RuTUPiAN Ports (Large) 
Ancient Gun, No. 1 
Ancient Gun, No. 2 . 
Bush's Proposed Beacon 
Lullock's First Beacon 

Martin's Proposed Lighthouse {See page 2ZZ) 
Bush's Great Caisson . 

„ Lighthouse Beacon . 
„ „ Upper Part 

Walkkk's First Beacon, 1844 

„ „ „ Second Position in 

„ Second Beacon 

TiiK Last Beacon 
llEi::;na''s Buoy . 

„ " Buoy-Beacon " 

Chart — Bush's Sea-wall 
Stevenson's Proposed Lighthouse 
Chart — Vetch's Spinal Embankment 





^L ft 

-" .^7r..h^ 

/H<^^ ^^ -pf^-^ 


%^r^AB^^ '^rr'i'''\ 




j^S. Croodrruv 

Soulh ScLnd Hecut 

Buoys thus 







The celebrity of the Goodwin Sauds — Their evil reputation fur 
centuries — Their use — Their position — Dimensions — Com- 
position — Sir J, H. Felly's remarkable experiment — Depth of 
clay below the surface — Opinions on their origin — Waste of 
cliffs — The Sands formerly an island — Not quicksands — 
General appearance — One vast " Golgotha " — Buried Wealth — 
A natural breakwater to the Downs. 

If there are many places far more celebrated, it is 
quite certain that there are few more dreaded by all 
those " who go down to the sea in ships, and occtipy 
their business in great waters," than the famous 
Goodwin Sands. The very name — " the Goodwins ! " 
— seems to have a terribly significant meanin ;, and 
carries an ominous ring about it that invariably sug- 
gests, whenever we hear it, something in some way 
or other mysteriously suggestive of death and destruc- 
tion in connection with disasters at sea, and disasters 
in themselves usually the most appalling and complete, 



for the Goodwins rarely do their foarful work by 
halves. Nor can this be altogether a matter of sur- 
prise when it is remembered that for nearly eight 
hundred years these Sands have had an evil reputation ; 
and, if we except one remarkable service which they 
undoubtedly render — as we shall presently see * — 
they have simply nothing whatever to recommend 
them to favourable notice in any way at all beyond 
the bare fact of their being a natural and geographical 
curiosity. Unlike the mighty clift' on some rugged 
iron-bound coast, which — though jirobably quite as 
dangerous in its own way — yet possesses in itself a 
majestic grandeur and beauty which it is impossible to 
help admiring (from an artistic point of view at least) 
as it stands, in its solitary greatness, calm and immov- 
able with the angry breakers lashing themselves into 
impotent fury at its foot. Unlike such a cliff, the 
Sands present no single point of admiration ; in fact, 
from their being almost constantly submerged, they 
are necessarily out of sight, except at the low tides 
when their more elevated portions are visible above 
water, and present the appearance of a small archipelago 
of islands. 

it glance at the chart facing page 1 will show the 
exact shape of the Goodwin Sands, and their position 
on the east coast of Kent. They lie between latitude 
r^V 9' of)" and 51° 19' 23", and" their extreme length, 
measuring from the 3-fathom level at the North Sand 
Head to the same level at the South Sand Head, is 
17,980 yards, or nearly ten miles and a quarter ; and 
their extreme breadth from the Bunt Head to the 
* See Chap. 111., p. 47. 


Barrier Edge is 7667 yards, or rather more than four 
miles and a quarter. The extent of the portion of the 
bank which is left dry, in certain places, at low water 
is altogether 12,364 yards long, and 6532 yards broad; 
that is to say, about seven miles long, by about three 
and a half wide. The elevated spots enclosed within the 
last dimensions, at ordinary spring tides, are left dry 
at low water for about 3^ to 5h feet — average 4^ feet — 
and at these times their surfaces remain dry for three 
hours. The rise and fall of the tide being 16^ feet, 
these spots are usually covered, on an average at high 
water, to the extent of 12 feet. 

The nature of the sand is remarkably clean and free 
from clay and mud, as might naturally be expected 
from the constant washing to which it is exposed. 
Smeaton, the great engineer and builder of the third 
Eddystone Lighthouse, surveyed the Sands in 1789, and 
stated that " although they were of the nature of a 
quicksand, clean and unconnected, yet the jjarticles 
lay so close that it was difficult to work a pointed iron 
bar into the mass more than to a depth of six or seven 
feet." In 1817, when boring on the possible chance 
of discovering a foundation for a contemplated light- 
house, the Trinity Board appear to have reported that 
the sand only reached to the depth of 15 feet, and 
rested on blue clay, below which chalk was found ; and 
this statement seems to have been partly corroborated 
by the late Admiral Bullock, the very ingenious con- 
structor of the first " Safety Beacon " ever erected on 
the Goodwins, in 1840, who found the sand at the depth 
of 7^ feet had become so dense and cohesive that his 
boring tools were broken in the efforts to make them 

B 2 


penetrate lower. In fact, boring lias always been found 
to be nearly useless here, whether for the purposes of 
investigation or otherwise, for when the auger is with- 
drawn the live sand fills up the orifice and polishes the 
auger so efi'ectualiy, in its return through it, that all 
traces of the chalk or soil, which it might have readied 
in its lowest depression, are completely obliterated. 
Besides this, at depths varying from 7i feet, according 
to Admiral Bullock — but as much as 15 feet accordinc: 
to others — the tools were generally twisted and broken 
from the great force used upon them, and the compact 
density of the sand. This may seem incredible, but 
there is ample evidence on record to prove the truth of 
the assertion. This fact has often raised the question 
as to whether the Sands are really " quick " or not ; a 
question which has been disputed with much ability 
by more than one writer — notably Mr. Boys, the 
•intiquarian and historian of Sandwich, who maintains 
that at the depth of 6 or 7 feet a hard and tenacious 
bottom is reached, and that the soft and spongy nature 
of the Sands extends only to that small depth ; and 
til is ceitainly seems confirmed by the various statements 
of almost every one who has investigated this interest- 
ing subject, at least up to the year 1849. 

Ill tliat year, however, much new light was thrown 
on tliis question by a remarkable experiment conducted 
l)y order of the Trinity Board in Octol . 184fl, uiKh'r 
tlic direction of Sir J. H, Pelly, Bart., Deputy IMaster 
I if llif Trinity House, and Captain K. Davis, R.N., in 
Drdrr to determine the geological formation of the 
Sands, jiiid to ascertain on what they rested, and thus, 
if ])ossil)le, to settle this oft-disputed ])oint, which h;is 



been the subject of so much controversy. To carry 
out this experiment an iron cylinder, 2 feet 6 inches in 
diameter, was sunk in 10 lengths by Dr. Potts' ingenious 
plan of atmospheric pressure,* until it reached the 
depth of 78 feet, when it stopped at the solid chalk. 
The deposits brought up through the cylinder as it 
descended were described as follows : — 

At the 


depth in 

The following deposits were found. 



Clear bright sand. 


Do. do. bluish cast. 


Do. do. deeper blue, sulphuretted smell. 


Do. do. colour of blue c ay. 


Small stones, broken shells, chalk nodules. 


Bri;iht sand. 


Clear broken shells. 


Decayed wood, sea-coal, broken shells, small stones. 


Dark foetid sand. 


Shells, black nodules of clay. 


Clean bright sand, pebbles, chalk, milky-coloured water. 


Pure chalk only. 

This curious experiment, showing that clear bright 
sand extends down to 46 feet, completely contradicts 
the statement of Mr. Boys that a " hard, tenacious 
bottom is found at 6 or 7 feet," when, in reality, 
the only firm reliable " bottom " — the chalk — is not 
found at all until a depth of 78 feet is reached. But 
here a very interesting question arises, and that is just 
this : — Is the chalk bed, on which the Goodwins rest, a 
dead level throusrhout the whole extent of the Sands? 
And because Sir J. H. Pelly, at a certain given point, 

* See Appendix No. 1. 


found the clay level at a depth of 78 feet below the 

surface, does it necessarily follow that the clay bed 

would be met with at the same depth throughout the 

entire area of the Sands ? It is quite possible that the 

clay may rise in one place, and yet be depressed in 

another, which circumstance would be found to make a 

very material difference in any measurements taken 

downwards from the surface of the sand ; so that the 

statements of Boys, Smeaton, and others, that clay was 

found at 7 or 8 feet may be, after all, perfectly correct 

as regards one particular spot, just as Sir J. H. Pelly 

found clay at 78 feet at another spot, and Mr. Walker 

found it at 57 feet at North Sand Head, 49 feet farther 

on south, and 78 feet at the South Sand Head. 

The opinion entertained by the late Captain Kennett 
Beacham Martin, formerly Harbour Master of Piams- 
gate, who devoted much time and attention to this 
very interesting subject, was that the Goodwin Sands 
were originally a ridge of chalk forming an inclined 
plane, showing a little deviation in the Gull Stream 
with the nearest shore of the Isle of Thanet ; the 
several small shoals and patches, together with the 
Brake Sand, being similar ridges of chalk, and together 
creating the mmierous eddies, which liave been the 
means of clothing their summits, in some places, with 
flint boulders and shingle, and at others (like the 
Goodwins) with a clean, live sand of many miles in 
extent, without a particle of extraneous matter. These 
chalk ridges, being a continuance of the Thanet Clifls, 
once formed the eastern side of the estuary of 
Bichborough (the Portus Eutupinus of the liomans), 
and the channel of the Stour ; the Soutbfnrri lond 


and its hills forming the opposite shore, and the dip 
of these chalk downs beneath the Minster level consti- 
tuting what is appropriately called the Sandwich Basin. 
Beneath the alluvial deposit in this basin, the lower 
chalk cliffs of Thanet dip suddenly down, and the soil 
is upwards of 100 feet deep at Minster. Here then, 
in some respects, are the features of the North Goodwin, 
which is a mound or hill of chalk, and dips into 
Trinity Bay, which may have possibly been a con- 
tinuation of one of the branches of the extensive 
estuary before alluded to. Then there is the counter- 
part of the South Groodwin in the extensive sand hills 
between Sandwich and Deal ; a sand of tiid same nature 
«n the surface without any admixture of extraneous 
matter, and from the skirt of which a long, flat, fertile 
land stretches away to where the chalk again rises into 
the ridge of the hills forming the South Foreland. 

In reference to this question, that the Goodwins 
were formerly an island, a very distinguished civil 
engineer, Mr. James Walker, in 1843, advanced the 
.singular opinion that, " As the Goodwins appear to be a 
mass of clean sand deposited on a basin of chalk, if they 
were ever cultivated land they must have been, in the 
£rst place, originally reclaimed from the sea, and the 
extreme difficulty of doing this, either then or now, is 
to me a convincing argument against it. If the tidal 
current were prevented going over the surface of the 
Goodwins, it would pass much more rapidly, and with 
a scouring force upon the sides, which being now sand, 
would be swept away, and any banks that might be 
attempted would be undermined almost as quickly as 


That the Goodwins should have been, in the first in- 
stance, " originally reclaimed from the sea," and formed 
into the cultivated island referred to by the Komans, 
is certainly a most peculiar and most original theory. 
Because they are sand now, it does not necessarily follow 
that they were always so. They might well have been 
a cultivated island once, but, as they were submerged 
nearly eight hundred years ago, the sea has had ample 
time to wash away the earth and loam which once 
formed the surface, and to continually heap up the ever- 
increasing sand in its stead ; for it should be re- 
membered that the quantity of loam on the island was 
necessarily prescribed, whereas the amount of sand 
supplied by the sea is unlimited. There would there- 
fore appear to be but little reason for accepting 
Mr. AValker's curious suggestion as to the reclaiming 
of the sands in the first instance, before the final 
destruction of the island in 1099. 

With regard to the formation of the Goodwin Sands, 
Mr. Walker says : " I consider the Sands as the natural 
consequence of the peculiar formation of the place, 
and of the cross tidal currents upon it, just as any 
other sand may be formed. Between Dover and the 
French coast the channel is narrow, the set of the tide 
direct, and there is no sand, but the bottom is rough 
stone or chalk. Northward the channel widens and 
the currents are crossed ; there is also a bay, or hollow^ 
in the coast extending from the Sout\ to the North 
Foreland which, with the projection of the latter, may 
account for the peculiar formation of the Goodwins^ 
and of the Margate Sands round the Foreland. I 
consider the loose sand of tlie Goodwins as an exact 


halance of the currents upon it at the time, and that the 
difierent changes that take place in it would, if we 
could apply them, be found to be a very minute and. 
fine measure of disturbing forces, namely, winds, 
floods, and tides, and with a body so easily moved as 
sand, this is sure to be the case." 

From a statement made by Mr. Morris, in 1838, to 
the Geological Society, it appears that there was a 
subsidence of 21 feet in 340 paces between Eamsgate 
and Cliff End in Pegwell Bay, and that a waste of 
nearly 3 feet annually is suj)posed to go on in the 
present Eamsgate Cliffs. Half that waste during the 
last five centuries, would carry the Eamsgate boundary 
over the nearest shoal, called the Dyke, which is a 
mass of flint boulders, formed, doubtless, by the 
abrasion of these clifts, and the scouring of the tide 
over the chalk bottom. The average height of the 
cliffs is 60 feet, their chalk base continuing out 
towards the North Goodwin deepens gradually into 
60 feet; together 120 feet. Then the mound of the 
Goodwins rises above low-water mark and extends 
outwards about two miles, terminating precipitately, 
and two miles still further out will be found a depth 
of 210 feet of water. Supposing therefore the water 
drained away, the geological featurps would be, as 
exhibited by the results of Sir J. H. Telly's cylinder 
experiment,* a chalk hill or mound 130 feet high, 
capped by a detritus of 80 feet of shelly shingle, ter- 
minating upwards in a surface of fine bright sand. 
The Brake Sand is another such chalk mound, which 
extends, in small ridges, to the Eamsgate Clifis, the 

* See ante, p. 4, 



valley between it and the Goodwins forming the Gull 

Looking at all these facts it is more than probable 
that the Sands were once, what the old writers always 
declare, an island, but submerged in one of the severe 
convulsions, or earthquakes, recorded in early history ; 
a point which will be fally considered in the succeeding 

The undoubted fact that ships have, again and again, 
at least to all appearance, been totally absorbed, and 
sunk bodily, in the Goodwins, has been repeatedly 
quoted to prove that they must be " quicksands." 
And yet this has been explained very clearly, and the 
reasons as to whether a wreck disappears or not are 
stated to depend very much on the particular part of 
the Sands on which the vessel strikes. If, for instance, 
on the outer edge of the eastern, or south-eastern side, 
where the Sands slope down at a steep angle into very 
deep water (over 300 feet), the violence of the waves 
would soon break the shin to pieces, and then every- 
thing would instantly roll, or be washed, down the 
steep descent into the depths below out of sight at 
once (as happened in the dreadful wreck of the ' British 
Queen'*), inviting the very natural conclusion that 
the Avreck had been " absorbed in the quicksand." 
]*>ut slionld a vessel get on the inner, ox more level, 
part <tt' thf sand, it is quite possible — if she escapes 
breaking up — that she will not be " absorbed " in the 
sands at rll, but will ultimately be got off, as in the 
case of tlic ■ Cliiiiidiert'.' f The relics of the hull of a 
ship, wrecked iirarly eighty years ago, were, within 


"the last few years, still lying in Trinity Bay, and the 
remains of the huge iron caisson, the wreck of Mr. 
Bush's unfortunate " Lighthouse-Beacon," * lay on the 
Sands, marked by a flag-pole, for a very long period. 

It has also been argued that when the tide is ebbing 
the greater pressure of the water upon the sand is 
downwards, and it is more firm and solid than 
upon the flood, when the water is forcing its way 
upwards, tending to lift the sand, and to make the mass 
loose until it gets covered by water. When therefore 
a vessel runs aground upon it, if there be little or no 
wind, she sinks slightly into the sand and remoaus 
quietly (unless upon the edge of a slope) until the 
tide floats her ofi" again. But if she grounds during a 
•storm, the seas soon break up the parts exposed to 
their force, and vath the strong run of the tide, quickly 
make a hollow in the sand for her hull, the sand there- 
upon naturally closing over the wreck when the upper 
Tvorks, which formed the obstruction to the free 
passage of the tide, are carried away ; a result not 
■only most natural, but most probable, and hence the 
idea that the ship has been actually " swallowed up " 
■by the supposed quicksand. 

When the Sands are covered hj the tide, the water 
permeates through the mass, rendering the wliole pulpy 
and treacherous, in which condition it shifts to such a 
degree as to render the most carefully drawn charts 
uncertain from year to year : but whilst the water is 
down, the various patches of sand above water, looking 
dike little islands, are tolerably hard, and offer a foot- 
Jiold sufficiently firm for persons to land and walk 


See Cli;i]). v., " Beacons and 15 



jibout upon, if they do not object to the chance of a 
thorough wetting. 

At very low tide the Sands present a curious and 
indescribably dreary and saddening appearance, their 
dull brownish-grey flats extending a vast distance 
with nothing to relieve their terrible monotony but 
the pools and lakes here and there occasioned by the 
lower level of the sand, unless, haply, a small bit of a 
broken wreck may be perchance sticking up through 
the surface, all that remains, or will ever more be seen, 
of some fine ship which may have " got on the Sands," 
as the phrase runs, gone to pieces at once, and dis- 
appeared for ever beneath the treacherous waters. 

The Eev. Mackenzie AValcott, in his interesting 
little w'ork on the ' Coast of Kent,' says, with great 
truth : " At low tides a walk along these melancholv 
dunes, w'hen the channel is bare of ships and presents 
only a boundless expanse, will inspire solemn thought, 
reverent awe, and silent devotion ; the voiceless lips of 
the shells which the foot buries tell of mighty changes 
and centuries gone by. All is still as beneath the roof 
of a cathedral, and the breeze grows mellowed, softer, 
sadder, as it mingles with the fall of the breakers. 
No wonder that the sound of voices seems to murmur 
above that sonorous bass by a deep feeling where all is 
perfect solitude, ineradicable, eternal, in the human 
heart ; just as the Arab hears the ' Al ! Allah!' of 
armies, or the bells of a Christian church, which no 
man ever yet could find, in the wild wilderness of 
Zin ! " 

Visitors to the towns of Iiamsgate, Deal, or Walmer,. 
looking over the Downs on a tine warm summer's day, 


when everything above and around is calm and beauti- 
ful, can hardly bring themselves to believe that the 
bright glittering sea which bounds the horizon covers 
a spot which for many miles is little more than one 
vast " Golgotha," the grave indeed of thousands ol 
brave and gallant hearts, who have been hurried to 
their doom with a rapidity and certainty alike appalling. 

The Rev. John Grilmore, in his deeply inti-rest- 
insf work under the characteristic title of ' Storm 
Warriors,' * says with great truth, speaking of these 
fatal Sands, that " when the graves give up their dead 
few churchyards will render such an account as theirs, 
not only as to the number of the dead, but also that 
the Sands are a battlefield which entombs the brave and 
the strong, who go down quick to their grave, quick from 
the full tide of life and strength, from the eager, stern, 
deadly contest in which, to the last, all their strong- 
energies are fully engaged ! " 

Xor does another reflection, perhaps, occur to us 
which is in itself probably as singular as it is unique, 
and that is the recollection of the enormous wealth 
which formed the cargoes of the thousands of ships of 
all nations which have been, dum g the last eight 
hundred years, engulfed in these treacherous Sands, and 
which probably lies buried there still, — 

" A thousand fearful wrecks, 
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl, 
Inestimable stores, unvalued jewels, 
All scattered on the bottom of the sea 1 " 

Much of this 1 as, of course, perished years ago ; but 

* 'Storm Warriors; or, Lifeboat Work on the Goodwin Sands.' 
by the Rev. Johu Gilmore, late Vicar of Holy Tiinity, Ramsgate. 


gold, silver, jewels, and metals are there still, and could 
they ever be recovered — a very doubtful possibility 
indeed — would represent property that would surprise 
a good many fortune-hunters of the present day even. 
Nor can this much excite our wonder when it is re- 
membered that these Sands have been the scene of con- 
stant wrecks of craft of all sizes and all nations, voyaging 
northward .and southward through the Straits of Dover 
for so many centuries, that is to say, from the period 
when the Goodwins first appear on the pages of history. 
The northern extremity of the Sands is nearly op- 
posite Eamsgate, the southern directly faces the village 
of Kingsdown, whilst the town of Deal lies nearly op- 
posite the centre. The space for the passage of ships 
between the Sands and the shore forms a fine and safe 
anchorage, bearing the well-known name of the 
" Downs " (said to be derived from " Dunes " — sand- 
banks), with an average width of about six miles, the 
line of the Sands acting as an extensive natural break- 
water, on the east, and thus proving their great utility 
in forming a sort of harbour of refuge with anchorage 
ground for hundreds of ships, so neatly described by 
Wordsworth : ~ 

" With ships the sea was sprinkled fur and nigh 
Like stars hi Heaven, and joj^oiisly it showed ; 
Some layhig fast at anchor in tlic road, 
Some veering u|i and down, one knew not why."' 

Til the foregoing sketch the general appearance and 
geographical bearings of the Goodwins have been 
given ; in the following chapter an attempt will be 
made to consider their history, both legendary and 

( 1^ ) 



The Sands originally an island — Coast-line much changed — Three 
islands mentioned by ancient writers — Xow one only remaining 
— Earl Godwine's connection with the Sands — Hasted's care- 
less statement — Isle of Lomea destroyed by earthquake or other 

natural convulsion — Estuary of Paitupiuni now dry land 

Portus Piutuj^inus — Various ways of spelling this name 

Eegulbium — Northmuth or Wantsum — Testimony of old 
writers — Legendary stories — Earl Godwine's connection with 
Lomea — Neglect by the See of Canterbury — Sir Thomas More's 
commission — Latimer's Sermon — Historical statements — Fear- 
ful storms in 1014 and 1099 — Early historical writers — Sir J. 
H. Pelly's experiment — Opinions on the origin of the Sands — 
The Trinity House — Cricket matches played on Sands — A 
cycling run— Burials in the Sands. 

That the Goodwin Sands were commonly believed to 
have been, at a remote period of history, a low-lyino- 
and very fertile island, situated on the coast of Kent, 
the ample, if qnaint, testimony of ancient and reliable 
authors leaves little room for doubt. The north- 
eastern formation of this coast must have possessed 
a widely different aspect when iSrst visited by the 
invading Caesar and his war galleys in the year 55 b.c, 
to the appearance it presents to modern eyes. Earth- 
quakes, or other great convulsions of Nature, inuDda- 
tions, and the constant and never-failing — though 


<Tradual — encroachments of the sea throughont the whole 
of this reglu.i,* have worked such remarkahle changes, 
that a map of the original coast unaided by description 
would be very nearly unintelligible at the present day. 

Some of the early writers, in describing this coast, 
distinctly mention three islands close to, or nearly 
opposite, the Eoman Portus Eutupinus : one on the 
north, called " Tanatus " (Thanet) or " Teneth," from ' 
the fire beacon on its heights ; one on the south called 
" Eutupise " or " Ruochini Insula " (Eichborough) ; and 
one bearing south-east called " Infera Insula " (Lomea, 
or Low Island). 

As the Isle of Thanet is nearly surrounded by high 
tdiffs, and as Eutupiae is now part of the mainland, it is 
evident that " Lomea," the island lying to the south- 
east, and occupying the exact position of the present 
Goodwin Sands, must have been, as stated by the old 
writers, none other than the sea-girt island said to 
have formed part of the vast possessions, if not the 
actual home, of the great English statesman and 
warrior, the famous Earl Godwins, the councillor and 
friend of Edward the Confessor, sometimes called the 
Earl of Kent, but spoken of by Freeman generally as 
the "Earl of the West Saxons." Godwine's immense 
possessions, according to Hasted, comprised 14 lord- 
ships in Kent, 44 in Sussex, 11 in Hants, 1 in Surrey, 
and 1 in Hereford ; and possibly Loukj, was one of 
the Kentish fourteen. He was also " Guardian of the 
Cinque Ports," and built the tower called after him in 
Dover Castle, as a return for the Manor of Goodnestone, 
-ouferred on him by Edward the Confessor. 
* bee Appendix No. 2. 


It is quite certain that these Sands have always been 
believed, in some way, at least, to have been connected 
with Earl (^lodwine, which readily accounts for their 
name, although Hasted, the Kentish historian, naively 
dismisses this really interesting question in a few oft- 
hand words. " As to their name," he says, " no one 
seems to know whence it arose, though some who 
contend for their existence in Earl Godwine's time, 
suppose them to have originated in some part of his 
fleet having been wrecked there ; or that the Sands 
were perhaps discovered by some of them ; " meaning, 
I presume by " them," by some of Godwine's ships. 
Hasted here seems to have mixed up together one or 
two of the ancient legendary stories connecting the. 
Earl with the Sands, without giving himself the trouble 
to investigate or compare the plain and simple narra- 
tives of the old writers, otherwise he never could have 
made the cool statement, so wholly unsupported, that 
" no one seems to know " the origin of the name. 

A careful study of the whole question in all its 
bearings, geographical, geological, and historical, will 
leave little doubt that the Sands were once, as recorded, 
the Island of Lomea, but submerged in one of the 
severe convulsions, or earthquakes, mentioned in 
Belgic as well as British history, and handed down by 
tradition, which will be fully noticed further on. It is 
quite certain that changes of a most extraordinary 
nature must have taken place at very remote periods, 
long prior to the date of the destruction of the island 
(a.d. 1099), otherwise how are we to account for the 
presence of gigantic specimens of teeth, tusks, bones of 
the mammoth and rhinoceros, which have been repeat- 



edly found deep down in the Sands, and the submarine 
valleys adjacent? That these regions have been 
aft'ected by earthquakes, or other powerful convulsions 
of some sort, is proved by the singular fact that in 
certain boring operations undertaken at JMinster in 
Thanet — about three miles inland from the coast — 
oysters were discovered at the depth of twenty-four 
feet below the surface ; and it is an historical fact, 
asserted by Tacitus and Antoninus, that oysters * were 
found in the levels of the estuary at Itutupium (Rich- 
borough), where Caesar anchored his fleet, and these 
are now covered by nineteen feet of dry land. All this 
would point to sudden eruption by tempest or earth- 
quake, rather than by general or gradual deposition. 

The Sketch Map on the opposite page, though 
perhaps not strictly geographically accurate, yet serves 
to exhibit the position of the three islands in the days of 
Eoman Britain. A second Map is added for convenience 
of reference, showing the present coast with the ancient 
boundaries marked by a dotted line. 

The Portus BuHqnnus (Rhutupine, Ehutupis, Eutibi, 
Eutupia, Eutupium, Eutupensis, Eeptacestir, or Kup- 
pecester, as it is variously writtenf) was, under the 
Eonians, a very important position, and formed the 

* Oysters from Britain were generally esteemed as a great 
delicacy at the tables of vvealtliy Romans. Juvtual observes — 

" Circeis nata fureut, an 
Lucriniini ad saxmn llutu})ijiove edita I'lindo 
C)strea, callebat primo deprendere morsu." 
•f Planche' derives the name from riitnhari and rutvba. Old 
Latin, signifying "perturbation of waters," as the river Stour, 
dividing into two brandies, rushed round the Isle of llutupia with 
much force into the sea on the other side of the island. 


Jupckrn, na.rne^ tcrtde-T^Zc^'^eci' . t^s* jRoc?njsqde. 

^ITfl^ ■■"'^ ^ =~ 


The dotted line shows the modern coast. 

- :i$i'^^=^^'^J'/'-ToTiLzsiA. 


0G^n£trbu^y , .jf<^ 


'^'^ ■■■■■■■ %-^ 







The dotted line shows the ancient coast. 

s s 


chief entrance to that part of Britain, all ships sailing 
through the port and up the Wantsum, out by North- 
muth, into the Thames at Eegulbium (Eeculvers), and 
so saving the rough heavy seas so often met with in 
rounding the North Foreland. This passage was 
defended by the castles of Eegulbium at the north end, 
and Eutupium on the south-east.* Solinus, a Eoman 
writer, speaks of the great importance of this latter 
place, and the vast size and enormous strength of the 
ruins of the castle, as seen at the present day, prove 
how greatly the Eomans must have valued the place as 
a military position ; and the Urbs Eutupium, the City 
of the Port, the foundations of which, it is said, can 
still be traced on the neighbouring land, was doubtless 
a station of great size and consequence. 

Eichard of Cirencester, bearing testimony to the 
extent and importance of this city, says " their primary 
station Ehutupis, which was colonised and became the 
metropolis, and where a haven was formed capable of 
containing the whole Eoman fleet which commanded 
the North Sea. This city was of such celebrity that it 
gave the name of Ehutupine to the neighbouring shores ; 
which Lucan 

"Aut vaga qunm Thetis Ehutupinaque littora fervent." 

The Venerable Bede (a.d. 735) mentions the use and 
importance of this estuary, and even gives its width at 
3 stadia, or 625 yards, and says that the city close by 
was called by the Saxons " Sand- Wick," the present 
Sandwich. Florence of Worcester states that Purkill 
came to Sand-Wick with his whole fleet of Danish ships, 

* See Appendix No. 3. 

c 2 


and anchored in the port of Entupium ; and the Saxon 
Chronicle (a.d. 1052), and Henry of Huntingdon also- 
relate that Harold sailed up this estuary with his fleet 
through " Northmuth " (Reculver) to London. Simeon 
of Durham (a.d. 864) describes Thanet as an island 
surrounded hy the sea ; and in 1303, the monks of 
St. Augustine, Canterbury, " claimed all the sea-ivrech in 
the manors of Minster, Chislet, and Stodmarsh," place& 
now in the valley lying between the island of Thanet 
and the mainland of Kent. John Twine, in his treatise 
'De Eebus Albionicis,' which was published in 1590^ 
laments over the submersion of Lomea, " Earl Godwine'^ 
once fertile land now called the Goodwin Sands," and 
over the annexation of Thanet to the mainland. Yet, 
he adds, although " Thanet has been changed (rom an 
isle into a peninsula, or Chersonesns, there are eight 
worthy men still living who have seen, not only the 
smallest boats, but larger barks, frequently pass and 
repass between tliat isle and our continent."' 

"Tlianatos enim nostro fere eno, ex insula fncta est 
peninsulnp siv(^ Chersonesns, superantibus adhuc octo 
fide dignis viris, qui non modo cyiubas minutiorea 
verumetiam grandiores naviculas onerariasque measse 
ac remeasse inter insulam et nostram continentnm, 
frequente uavigatione vidisse se aiunt." — he Behus 
Albion ids. 

Twine also states that tlie Wantsum was at that 
period about half a mile wide, and that a mooring 
place had once existed at Sarre, now a little inland 
village on the Stour ; the truth of this is evidenced 
by the finding of ancient anchors, and the discovery 
of the remains of timber piers at that jdace. 


The Porhis Rntnpinus, where the great Roman 
■fleet of 82 war galleys and 18 transports was easily 
anchored, with its broad estuary leading to the 
Thames, has passed away, and is, together with the 
Isle of RuL ipia, now a vast tract of flat, valuable, 
marshy land, 25,000 acres in extent, doubtless from 
the efiect of some terrible convulsion by which the 
earth has been elevated, the sea in consequence 
thrown back. As this is before our eyes there is no 
disputing it, therefore we can the more easily believe 
that a similar — or possibly the very same — elementary 
disturbance caused the ultimate destruction of the 
Isle of Lomea. 

The question, however, of the origin of the Goodwin 
Sands has given rise to much disputing and contro- 
versy, many writers holding different opinions on the 
subject. Dating from a period so very remote, it is 
no matter of surprise that much that is fanciful and 
legendary should be mixed up with the possible and 
the historical. It will, therefore, be both amusing 
and interesting to take a rapid glance at the first, 
before we consider the second. 

Legendary Stories, 

I. The fanciful legends connecting the Goodwin 
Sands, first with the estates of the celebrated Godwine, 
Earl of Kent, or Earl of the West Saxons, and of their 
destruction by the sea, as a just judgment upon him for 
his many crimes and his wicked life ; and secondly, in 
some mysterious way, with Tenterden church steeple, 
are legends, and nothing but legends — romantic enough 


in their way, perhaps, and each remarkable for a sort 
of stern retributive justice which we cannot help 
admiring prodigiously, especially the utter contempt 
exhibited for historical facts and chronological dates. 

The first legend states that the Sands having been 
suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, overwhelmed by the 
sea, Earl God wine, almost iiu mediately afterwards, 
was returning up Channel at the head of his fleet 
— for a mighty sailor was Godwine — from some one 
or other of his many naval expeditions, and not having 
the advantage of an Admiralty chart, a floating light, or 
even a Trinity House buoy to warn him of his danger, 
ran foul of the new-made obstruction, and there 
perished miserably with the whole of his ships and 
men ; and hence his well-known name was applied 
to the spot where he had met his death. This, how- 
ever interesting, is certainly not in accordance with 
history as commonly received, the great Earl's death 
being always stated to have taken place suddenly, r^^^^ 
under peculiar circumstances,* in the year i\joo, 
whilst dining with King Edward the Confessor at 
Winchester, shortly after his reconciliation with that 
monarch, and consequently long before the submer- 
sion of the Island of Lomea by the sea, wliich event, 
history states, occurred in 1099. 

II. The second legend, embodying the apparently 
impossible connection between the Goodwin Sands 
and Teiiterden church steeple, has been explained 
in various different ways. One, in wliich the great 
Earl again appears, states that Godwine, in one of his 
many militaiy expeditions, penetrated into the Weald 
* See Appendix No. 4. 


of Kent, and attacked and burnt the Palace of tlie 
" King of Kent," but being hard pressed, and in very 
great peril from a vastly superior force, whilst lying 
concealed in the woods, he made a vow to the Blessed 
Virgin that, should he return in safety to his island 
estate of Lomea, he would erect a steeple to the 
church at Tenterden in honour of the saints. He did 
escape the impending danger ; but, being a careless^ 
vacillating worshipper, with little or no trust in 
either saints or angels, he soon forgot his vow, now 
that the danger was past (a not uncommon failing in 
our own day), and wholly neglected to fulfil his 
promise, when the vengeance of Heaven was inflicted 
upon him and his sons in the total destruction of his 
favourite sea-girt domain, for which he had risked and 
promised so much ! * 

There is, however, another version of the same 
legend, although with a very opposite tendency. In 
this one it is stated that so anxious was the Earl to 
fulfil his sacred vow, and build the promised steeple, 
that he neglected the dams and sea walls on which the 
safety of the island depended, using the money and 
timber which ought to have been applied thereto for 
the purposes of the erection of Tenterden steeple ; and 
the inevitable consequence of this was, that in the 
first great storm which followed, the lands fell an easy 
prey to the engulfing waters. But according to Sir 
Thomas More's " ancient witness of Sandwich, then nigh 
100 years old" — as we shall see further on — there 
was no steeple at all at Tenterden Church until the 
middle of the sixteenth century ! 

* See Appen.lix Xo. 5. 


III. The third legend is remarkable as exhibiting a 
fine lesson on financial and official dishonesty in high 
placts, reminding the reader somewhat of the Welsh 
story of the total destruction, from the same cause, of 
the fertile plain of Gwalior, so happily told by the 
witty author of ' Headlong Hall ' * in his clever satire 
' The Fortunes of Elfin.' The Goodwin estates were 
always said to have been defended from the inroads of 
the sea by a strong sea wall, such as may still be seen 
on the left bank of the Thames, near its mouth, and 
round the Island of Foulness, and other islands of low 
level on the Essex coast. Now this sea w^all, from the 
very nature of its position and uses, required the most 
watchful care and supervision ; and it so happened 
that when these lands, which had belonged to 
Harold II., the son of Earl God wine, were bestowed 
by William the Conqueror on the See of Canterbury, 
the ecclesiastical authorities displayed their crass 
ignorance of the commonest principles of Nature by 
withdrawing the funds, stone, and timber intended 
expressly for the maintenance of this important sea 
wall, or bnrrier, and misapplied them in the erection 
of Tenterden Church steeple, amiably supposing, like 
the Gwalior Commissioners, that if they left the 
embankments alone, they would doubtless " take care 
of themselves." The inevitable consequence of this 
culpable neglect was that the sea wall — exactly as in 
the Welsh story — fell into disrepair and gave way 
to the pressure it could no longer resist, and, the 
waves ha vine: the mastery, broke through, over- 
whelming and destroying the estates the wall had 
* 'I'he late J. B. Peacock, Esq. 


l)een originally designed to protect. The matter was, 
110 doubt, carefully kept secret by the Chapter of 
Canterbury as long as possible, for there was no dread, 
in those degenerate days, of the ready pen of a 
"Whiston^' to publish to an admiring and applauding 
world the shortcomings of the reverend delinquents, 
or to tell awkward stories about " Cathedral trusts and 
their fulfilment ;" but the only return the Chapter 
received for their rapacity and mismanagement was 
the total loss of what might probably have proved a 
most valuable and lucrative property — that is, sup- 
posing the story to be true. 

Old Fuller, in his ' Worthies,' however, lays the fault, 
not on the See of Canterbury, but on the Bishop of 
Eochester ; though what ]ie could possibly have had to 
do with the finances of estates belonging solely to the 
Archiepiscopal See is, at first sight, somewhat difficult 
to understand. Fuller says : '' Time out of mind money 
was constantly collected out of this country to fence 
the east banks thereof against the irruption of the sea, 
and such sums were deposited in the hands of the 
Bishop of Eochester ; but, because the sea had been 
quiet for many years, without any encroaching, the 
Bishop committed this money to the building of a 
steeple, a]id endowing a church at Tenterden. By this 
diversion of the collection for the maintenance of the 
banks, the sea afterwards brake in upon Goodwin's 

Now this statement is neither clear nor logical, 
because, if " Goodwin's Sands " existed already — as 
sands in the sea — hoAV could the sea " brake in " r \ 
them, and what was it to " brake in "' thiough? li is 


possible, however, that Fuller means us to understand 
that the Isle of Lomea was itself one of the " east banks- 
of Kent " which was " fenced " at the public expense, 
but which was totally lost in consequence of this 
" fencing " having been so reprehensibly neglected. 

Besides Fuller two other, and, on such a subject, 
certainly rather unexpected authorities come upon the 
scene and add their testimony. These are no less than 
Sir Thomas More and Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worces- 
ter. In the last of a series of sermons, said to have 
been preached by him before King Edward VI., the 
good Bishop tells the following quaint story ; the 
subject and language, to say the least, would seem to 
be most peculiar to introduce into a " sermon," until 
we discover the real reason for so doing, which was, 
by using the story as a sort of parable, to thereby 
inculcate a lesson against hasty and utterly illogical 
conclusions, as will be seen by the closing words of 
the discourse — the Bishop, apparently, having been 
improperly accused of assisting the cause of rebellion 
by his eloquent preaching. 

" Maister More was once sent with commission into 
Kent, to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of 
Goodwin's Sands, and the shelf which stopped up 
Sandwich Haven.* Thither cometh jMaister Mure, and 
calleth all the country before him. such as were thought 
to be men of experience, and men that could of likeli- 
hood best satisfy him of the matter concerning the 
stopping of Sandwich Haven. Among the rest cometh 
in before him an old man with a white liead. and one 
that was thouglit t<> 1h' little less than 100 years old.. 
* See Appendix No. 6. 


When Mr. More saw this aged man he thought it ex- 
pedient to hear him say his mind on this matter, for, 
being an okl man, it was likely he knew most in that 
presence or company. So Mr. More called this old 
aged man nnto him and said : 

" ' Father, tell me if you can, what is the cause of 
the great arising of the sands and shelves here about 
this Haven, which stop it up so that no ship can arrive 
here ? You are the oldest man 1 can espy in all the 
company, so if any man can tell the cause of it, you of 
all likelihood can say most to it, or at leastwise more 
than any man here assembled.' 

" ' Yea, forsooth, good Mr. More,' quoth the old man, 
' for I am well-nigh a hundred years old, and no man 
here in this company anything near my age.' 

" ' Well, then,' quoth Mr. More, ' how say you of this 
matter ? What think you to be the cause of these 
shelves and sands which stop up Sandwich Haven ? ' 

" ' Forsooth, sir,' quoth he, ' I am an old man ; I 
think that Tenterden Steeple is the cause of Goodwin's 
Sands. For I am an old man, sir, and 1 may remember 
the building of Tenterden Steeple, and I may remember 
when there was no steeple at all there. And before 
that Tenterden Steeple was building there was no 
manner of talking of any flats or sands that stopped up 
the Haven ; and therefore I think that Tenterden 
Steeple is the cause of the decay and the destroying of 
Sandwich Haven.' And even so," argued the Bishop, 
" is my preaching of God's Worde the cause of rebellion, 
as much as Tenterden Steeple is a cause that Sandwich 
Haven is decayed." 

To the very evident, most intelligent, and most con- 


elusive arguments of this " olde aged " witness, Maister 
More appears to have offered neither reply nor comment 
—at least that we hear of — and the very startling con- 
clusion which the interesting and sagacious old man 
had arrived at was i)Ossihly altogether too much for 
the learning of " good Maister More," and he therefore 
wisely refrained from argiiment or dispute, where both 
would have been alike useless and thrown away in 
dealing with the ignorance and prejudices of extreme 
old age. 

Notwithstanding, however, the very eminent names 
of Latimer. More, and Fuller, the awkward, but un- 
doubted, fact cannot be overlooked that the Sands, as 
most reliable authors agree, date from the year 1099, 
upwards of 400 years hefore Sir Thomas More's inter- 
esting and clear-headed " old man," who was " thought 
to be nigh a hundred years old," and who conveniently 
" remembers the building of Tenterden Steeple," 
appears upon the scene at all. The story therefore, to 
say nothing of the utter absurdity and childish stupidity 
of the whole argument, proves nothing, and falls to 
the crround. 


nidoricaJ Statements. 

But all this, of course, is mere legendary lore, and 
although amusing and interesting enough in its way, 
helps us but little in our researches as to the true 
origin of these remarkable sand- banks. The most 
learned opinions on the subject are but opinions 
and conjectures after all, for of real truth we know 
but little, and that little, which we suppose and hope 


to be truth, is only derived from the old chroniclers, 
whose accounts are sometimes both contradictory and 

Captain Kenneth B. Martin, in his ' Oral Traditions 
of the Cinque Ports,' quoting- from the Belgian 
Chronicle, refers to two fearful storms, one of which 
occurred in 1014, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, 
and was accompanied by a terrible earthquake, and the 
other, and by far the more severe of the two, in 1099, 
in the time of William II. Each of these so-called 
" storms " was followed by a most appalling inundation 
of the sea, occasioning frightful loss of life, land, and 
all kinds of property. The Saxon Chronicle, speaking 
of the first of these, in 1014, says, " This year, on the eve 
of St. Michaers Day, came the great sea-flood which 
spread wide over the land, and ran up so far as it 
never did before, overwhelming many towns, and an 
innumerable multitude of people." By this same 
inundation a group of islands in the German Ocean 
w^as entirely swallowed up,* as well as the bank on the 
Kentish coast now known as the " Eidge," but formerly 
called the " Kipa " by the Eomans, the " Eiprapp " by 
ourselves, and " Le Colbart " by the French, from the 
Celtic words " Col " a height, and " Ber " or " Bart," 
water, i.e. the " ridge in the water." 

The Saxon Chronicle also says, of the second inun- 
dation, that " in the year 1099, on the festival of St. 
Martin, the sea-flood sprang up such a height, and did 
so much harm as no man remembered it ever did before, 
and this was the first day of the new moon." Captain 
IMartin adds that, " It was, doubtless, this storm which 
*■ Now tJie biioals called the " Broad Fuurteens." 


completed the ruiu of the Goodwin Lands and Estates, 
and entirely submerged what remained of the low 
fertile islands in the German Ocean, leaving a solitary 
rock, now the Island of Heligoland, surrounded by the 
destructive element. It is quite possible that the 
lands might have been rendered untenable by the 
first inundation of 1014, and totally destroyed by the 
second in 1099." 

Although no distinct reference appears to have been 
made, directly by name, to the destruction of the 
Goodwin Estates, or the Isle of Lomea, by the sea, yet 
there can be but little doubt of the truth of the many 
statements as to the fact of great and fearful inunda- 
tions having taken place at the periods named, causing 
the total loss of towns, villages, lands, and lives, to an 
extent as appalling as it was unprecedented. Florence 
of Worcester, Henry of Huntingdon, and Matthew 
of Westminster, old and trustworthy chroniclers, all 
unite in speaking of these inundations as calamities of 
the most terrible description : 

" Villas quamplurimas innumeiabilemque populi multitudinem 

And again : 

" ^lavc asccndcns solito superius villas t')tas cum populo 

These statements are again confirmed by good old 
William Lambard, who wrote his 'Perambulation of 
Kent' about the year 1570. He says that many 
writers have agreed that about the end of the reign of 
William II. {circa 1098-09) " there was a sudden and 
mighty inundation of the sea, by which a groat part of 


Planders was iitterly drenched and lost, whilst at the 
same time various places both in England and Scotland 
also suffered most dreadfully, but especially the Estates 
of Godwyn, Earl of Kent, which were first covered 
with a fine light sand, and afterwards overwhelmed by 
the waves and so destroyed ; " and he concludes his 
account with the quaint, but very characteristic, remark 
that the estate " not only remaineth covered by the 
waters ever since, but is become withal a most dreadful 
gulf and ship-svvallower " {navium gurges et vorago), a 
painful fact that also unfortunately remaineth unto 
this present day in all its terrible truthfulness. Here, 
then, we find mention made not only of the great 
inundation, which caused such fearful calamity and loss, 
but a distinct reference, by name, to the " Estates of 
Oodwyn, Earl of Kent," as having been overwhelmed 
and lost at the same time. Lambard goes on to say 
that the sands were " sometimes passable by foote and 
sometimes laide under water, in dubio pelagi terrseque, 
and so, as it may be saide, either sea or lande, or 
neither or both." He then adds : " I sticke not to accept 
this for assumed truth, considering either the auctorite 
of the writer himselfe (that is. Hector Boethius) the 
Scottish historian being a diligent and learned man, 
or the circumstances of the thinge that he hath left 
written, being in itself both reasonable and likely." 

Speed, in the ' History of the World,' 1636, evidently 
without troubling himself to investigate historical facts, 
falls quietly into the old legend, and says that 
'^Grood win's sands were sunk for the sins of Earl 
Godwin and his sons ! " adding quaintly, " they are, 
to this day, greatly to be feared of all navigators." 


Giialflus, ill his ' Itinerary of Wales,' also distinctly^ 
thongh shortly, states that these lauds were destroyed 
by the sea. 

Camden, however, in his ' Britannia,' giving little 
or no heed to the legendary tales, also testifies to these 
sands having been once an island ; and Irvine also 
bears testimony to its fruitful condition, and to its 
having good pastures, and then adds this curious piece 
of information : " In an unusual storm of wind and rain 
and of a very high sea the Isle sunk down (?) and was- 
covered with heaps of sand." In Baker's ' Chronicle 
of the Kings of England ' it is also affirmed that in the 
reign of William Rufus " the lands in Kent belonging 
to Earl Godwin were, by the breaking in of the sea, 
covered with sand, and called Godwin's Sands unto this 
day." But the worthy old chronicler is, of course, 
entirely mistaken in speaking of these lands as belong- 
ing to Earl Godwin in the reign of William If., for at 
the period of their destruction, in l(i99, they were 
held by the See of Canterbury, to which they had been 
given by William the Conqueror, after the death of 
Harold II., the son of Godwine, and the former rightful 

Another remarkable statement made by some of the 
old writers refers to the " fruitful " Island of Lomea 
and its rich pastures : a statement that we find some 
difficulty in reconciling with the facts brought out by 
the interesting and conclusive experiment conducted 
by Sir .). H. Felly under the orders of the Trinity House, 
in the year 1841>,t from which it appeared that the 
space intervening between the present surface of the 
* See ante, p. 24. f See Cbaii. I., p. 4. 


sands down to the pure chalk — a depth of no less than 
78 feet — was entirely occupied by, and made up of, 
difierent kinds of sands, sea-shells, stones, flints, etc. 
If, therefore, this " Island " is found to consist of noth- 
ing but a hu;j;e mound of chalk, with a vast super- 
structure of sand and shells 78 feet thick, it may be 
naturally asked how can it possibly have ever been 
either " fertile " or " fruitful,"' or have maintained rich 
pastures, as so often has been alleged ? And further, even 
supposing that it ever really was, as stated, an " island 
of rich and fruitful loam," how is it that something of 
that nature was not discovered, and brought to light, 
by the Trinity House experiment, instead of the sand 
and sea-shells which were found occupying the entire 
i^pace from the surface down to the solid chalk. But 
it is, hi)wever, really possible that the original loamy 
soil may have been, by the ceaseless action of the sea 
for many centuries, entirely washed away, and the 
sand ultimately deposited in its place. If this theory 
be accepted, it will readily reconcile these apparently 
adverse statements which now perhaps appear at least 
contradictory, if not altogether difficult of belief. 

Looking carefully at these facts— -the result of modern 
ingenuity scientifically applied — our faith is somewhat 
shaken in the " fertile island " theory, and we must 
rather incline to the opinion, frequently advanced by 
Mr. Somner and other learned writers and antiquaries, 
that the Goodwin Sands were never anything but sand- 
banks; and that instead of having been occasioned by a 
great irruption of the sea, they were rather caused by 
the sea leaving them at the time of the great inun- 
dations already referred to, which submerged so large 



a part of Flanders and the Low Countries, by which 
this portion of the Channel, which before had sufficient 
depth of water to be at all times as navigable here as 
elsewhere, became a large tract of land or sand-bank, 
dry at low water, but barely covered with waves at 
other times, and proving highly dangerous to mariners, 
as the countless shipwrecks on it, for centuries past, 
have sufficiently attested. Another writer, inclining 
to the same opinion, adds that possibly these sands were 
originally a sort of shelf or bank, elevated higher than 
the surrounding level, but still covered by a depth of 
water sufficient to carry any vessels over it without 
danger, until, at the great inundations, so much of the 
water between the two shores having flowed away 
beyond the ordinary bounds, and gained so much more 
room over other lands — the sea being supposed to lose 
in one jilace what it gains in another ; an opinion, 
however, strongly opposed by Captain Martin — that 
this shelf or bank of land, for want of the sufficiency 
of water that before covered it, became so near the 
surface that, at low tide, it would appear as dry land, 
and admit of persons even landing upon it, and yet just 
enough covered at high water to make it Ixtth dan- 
gerous and destructive to shipping, not only as an 
obstacle to progress in this narrow strait, but, from its 
peculiar spongy, soft, yet tenacious nature, and its 
cDgulhng properties, as a treacherous quicksand as 

The above opinion, that the sea loses in one place it gains in another, is strongly opposed by 
('aptain jMartin, who combats the supposition that the 
sea receded from the Goodwin Sands, stating that ac 


considers it " impossible that the sea could have 
gradually retired from a navigable channel (the Straits), 
converted the anchorage of navies (the Portus Eutu- 
pinus) into smiling cornfields and pastures, and, at 
the same time to have covered for ever a stone-built 
fortress (Eegulbium) existing in the immediate vicinity, 
or buried the greater part of a town (Margate Sands), 
only a very few miles distant, in the bosom of the 
deep ; " and he adds that the supposition that the sea 
receded from our coasts because it encroached on 
Flanders is, in his opinion, utterly absurd, and nut 
entitled to belief. 

Although Captain Martin is opposed to the theory 
that the sea loses in one place what it gains in another, 
yet it is nevertheless an opinion entertained very 
generally by learned and scientific men who have given 
any attention to this most interesting subject. 

Humboldt, in the ' Cosmos,' admits that " the boun- 
daries of sea and land, of fluids and solids, are thus 
variously and frequently changed, and plains have 
undergone various oscillatory movements, being alter- 
nately elevated and depressed. Thus, in following 
phenomena in their mutual dependencies, we are led to 
the consideration of the forces acting in the interior 
of the earth, to those which cause eruptions on its 

Pennant also, in his ' Journey to the Isle of Wight,' 
gives it as his opinion that the " Godwin Sands " (as 
he spells it) owe their origin to " the great inundation 
which overflowed part of Holland in the year 1099, so 
that the water being carried from this part of the s >a 
rendered it so shallow that places which might h;ive 


been safely passed over before now became full of 
dangerous shoals." The good (dd chronicler, who 
probably wrote about the year 1770, then makes the 
tollowing amazing statement : — " The sands were two 
submarine hills which escaped notice in ancient times 
[why so ?] by reason of their 'depth. The drainage due 
to the inundation exposed their hends at ebbtide, 
and they consequently became most dangerous to 
mariners." The extract is inserted to show the 
opposite opinions which have been offered by various 
writers of different capacities, and at different periods,,, 
in reference to this interesting question. 

As this chapter is devoted to the history of the 
Goodwins, it would hardly be complete without a 
passing reference to the Trinity House, as the Brethren 
have the entire oversight and management of all lights, 
light-ships, buoys, and beacons on the English and 
Welsh coasts, including, of course, the Goodwin Sands. 
I therefore make no apology for inserting the following 
short sketch of the origin and progress of the most an- 
cient and honourable Corporation of the Trinity House. 

The Trinity House was founded by King Henry VHL, 
who is said to have devoted both time and attention 
to the subject of English navigation. Originally 
the Corporation was simply a religious Guild, and the 
(;nly duty required of the Brethren was to pray 
for the souls of sailors drowned at sea, and tor the 
lives of those who might be on the verge of ship- 
wreck or otherwise, or struggling in extreme peril 
of winds and waves. On tlic "iOth of ]\rarch, 1514 (G^ 
Henry Yin. ), the king granted the first fliart;>r giving 
the Corporation the title of the " Guild or Brotherhood 


<of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Deptford-lc- 
•Strand, and St. Clement " (the patron of sailors). 

This charter commences with the remarkahle declar- 
.ation, " on account of the sincere and entire love and 
likewise devotion which we bear and have towards the 
most glorious and undividable Trinity, and also St 
•Clement j;he Confessor," his Majesty grants license for 
the establishment of a Guild or perpetual fraternity 
to " certain individuals and their associates, as well 
men as women." This charter was confirmed early in 
Elizabeth's reign, and again in her 36th year, when 
the religious duties of the Guild had nearly declined, 
.and for the first time those powers were granted which 
have subsequently led to the authority of the Trinity 
Board over all lighthouses and beacons. In this year, 
ihe Lord High Admiral of England formally relinquished 
all claim, on his part and on the part of the crown, to 
the rights, privileges, and emoluments for '• buoyage, 
ballastage, and beaconage," which were thenceforth 
assigned to the Trinity Brotherhood. James II., in 
confirming this charter, extended the powers of the 
Fraternity, and organized the Board very much as it 
■exists at present. His first patent appoints " Our 
trusty and well-beloved Samuel Pepys, Esquire,* 
.secretary to our admiralty of England, to be first and 
present master of the said Guild, Fraternity, or Brother- 
liood." General control was given over British ships 
and shipping interests, and the erection of lighthouses 
.and beacons consequently became part of the business 
>of the Board ; although the maintenance of lights was 
.still permitted, under the king's license, by private 
* The author of the well-kuown 'Diary.' 


speculators, who, it is said, often realised large fortunes 
from the excessive tolls which they levied on all vessels 
passing within range of their lights. This questionable 
system, as might be supposed, led to great scandals 
and much corruption until it was at length very 
properly put an end to. James's charter was again 
enrolled and confirmed by George II., and by an Act 
]iassed in the 6 & 7 William IV. the interests of the 
crown were made over to the "Brethren of the Trinity 
House," greatly enlarging their authority and em- 
powering them to buy up all private tights, and thus, 
by assuming the direction and responsibility of the 
whole, establish a uniform system in regard to lights, 
buoys, and beacons throughout England and Wales, 
the powers of the Corporation not extending to Ireland 
or Scotland,* and these powers are continued to the 
present day ; the only exemptions to the rule of the 
Trinity Board being the instances of small harbour 
lights, which remain under the control of the harbour 

Crichet MafcJies plai/ccl on /he Snuds. 

Most people will be inclined to think that about the 
very last place to bo selected for the enjoyment of a 
game at cricket would be the Goodwin Sands. Yet it 
is a fact that several matches have been played there 
at different periods, each by a party of genuine enthu- 
siasts, wlio seemed determined to try their favourite 
game — evidently for the singularity and the "fun of 

* III Treliind the lights are managed by the Ballast Board of 
DuWiii, and in Scotland by the Commissioners of Northern Lights. 


the thing " — on the most extraordinary, and apparently 
impossible spot they could select. Nothing daunted 
by the terrors of tides, waves, or quicksands, the 
party of players in the j&rst match proceeded to the 
Sands, some time in the summer of 1824, under the 
direction of Captain Kennet B. Martin, then Harbour 
Master at Eamsgate, a gentleman who knew the 
Groodwins perhaps better than most people. 

Captain Martin records that the game was well 
played, all the proper formalities being strictly observed. 
The " fielding " was, at times, a little awkward, from 
the necessity of running over wet and yielding sand, 
and not unfrequently through a pool or gully, knee- 
deep in water, when the ball had been fairly well hit ; 
but this was, of course, cheerfully taken as all part of 
" the fun," and the whole affair was thoroughly enjoyed 
by all engaged in it. When the game was over, corks 
were drawn, and the health of his gracious Majesty 
King George lY. was cordially drank with three hearty 
cheers, after which the party returned to Eamsgate, 
much pleased with their visit to this most original of 
cricket grounds. 

A second match, which nearly came to a most 
disastrous termination, is recorded to have been played 
about the year 1839 or '40 by a party of young men 
from Deal, who started for the Sands one bright, calm 
summer's day, in a small boat in charge of an old and 
experienced Dealman. They landed near the Swatch 
and soon settled in right earnest to their game, which 
seemed to be keenly enjoyed by all present. Then 
followed the inevitable " hamper," with the eatables 
and drinkables, which were quite as much relished as 


the play had been ; indeed, so much so that no one 
observed the rising clouds and the freshening breeze 
but the careful old Dealnian, whose experienced eye 
plainly told him that a change, decidedly not for the 
better, was coming up in the weather, and that the 
boat, which had brought them out in perfect safety 
with smooth water and light breezes, was wholly 
unfit to carry so large a party over rough water and in 
the face of a gale of wind. He therefore urged instant 
departure before matters got worse ; but the attractions 
of either the game, or, haply, the hamper, were so 
strong that much foolish delay was permitted, and 
much most precious time lost, and when at last the 
whole party did get off, they found the sea so high that 
they were in immediate danger of being swamped 
before they had proceeded half a mile from the shore. 
'i his so terrified them that they at once returned to 
the Sanas, hoping to be ultimately taken off by some 
passing vessel or boat — a desperate and risky expedient 
at best.* It is imj)ossible to say how this might have 
ended, as the gale was increasing and the tide rapidly 
rising ; but, fortunately for the cricketers, their friends 
aslioie, with praiseworthy sagacity, had niaikcd the 
approaching bad weather, and knowing that tlie party 
had only a small boat, quite unfit to battle with rough 
water, these generous friends had immediately t^ent out 
a hu-ge " hovelling " lugger, which arrived at the Sands, 
as the saying goes, in the very " nick of time," took 
the whole party on board, and brought tlicm safe 
ashore; and let us hope tliat, if they ever went cricket- 

* Fur an accoiiiit oi' a iiiul mchi/ly ol' Lie under somewhat 
.similar circuin.stances, see Appeiidix No. 10. 


ing on the Goodwins again, they wouhl not turn a deaf 
■«ar to the wise warnings of intelligent experience, 
especially with snch a cheering prospect before them as 
a heavy gale, a rising tide, a useless boat, and a speedy 
and certain death ! 

The third match was indulged in by two elevens 
from Margate in August, 1844, and was played very 
near the spot occupied by Captain Bullock's Beacon. 
The game, and doubtless the accompanying " hamper," 
were greatly enjoyed by the party, who returned to 
terra firma highly pleased with, and none the worse 
for, their pleasant trip to this singular cricket- ground. 

The fourth match was played on the 10 rh of August, 
1854, by a party under the direction of Mr. Mon ' 
Tiiompson and Mr. Hammond of Walmer. Captain 
Vearson and a picked crew of the ' Spartan,' one of 
the finest luggers on Deal beach, were invited for the 

■ occasion. The day was beautifully calm, aud the 
players were safely landed about 5 p.m. They con- 

. sisted of twenty-four persons, all told. After a long and 
careful search a spot was at length found sufficiently high 
and dry for the purpose, when the wickets were at once 
pitched, and the game began, and was continued with 
uncommon spirit and gusto until sunset, the winners 
making 57 runs. The ground was intersected in every 

• direction by narrow and deep gullies, into which it was 
almost dangerous to step, as well by numerous small 
pools of water. But, nothing daunted by these ap- 
parent obstacles, the " fielding " was capitally managed, 
although, as in one of the former matches, thorough 
wettings seemed to be the order of the game, when the 

■ course of the ball had to be closely and quickly followed 


The evening was very fine, and the return voyage, by 
bright moonlight, was much enjoyed. 

These are perhaj)S the only occasions on record where 
genuine enjoyment, together with fun, frolic, and 
laughter, have been got out of the dreaded and terrible 
Goodwin Sands, and probably the only instances of a 
game at cricket having been played on a place that is 
in itself, in f;iet, little more than a gigantic grave, not 
only of thousauds of brave men and " stately ships," but 
of millions of lost treasure as well — a spot indeed that 
can never be viewed, or even thought of, without the 
saddest associations and reflections crowding the mind 
in regard to this most melancholy and desolate region. 

Cycling on the Sands. 

If the Goodwins were an unlikely place for playing 
a game of cricket, we should have thought, from the 
soft sloppy nature of the sand, the inequalities of its 
surface, and its constantly recurring pools of water, 
that it would have been totally unfitted for running 
a bicycle, which is supposed to require a hard and 
level road for its operations. Nevertheless, three 
enthusiastic cyclists from London were evidently of 
a diff'crciit opinion; and accordingly they embarked at 
Deal on the olst of August, 1887, for the Goodwins, 
and on reaching the sands they had, in order to effect 
a landing, to wade knee-deep in water, carrying their 
bicycles on their backs. It was found necessarj', on 
starting for this extraordinary run, to keep close to 
the edge of the water, as the wheels always sank in 
the sand on ffoing more tlian 20 yards a\v;iv from the- 


margin. After some trouble, and many dismounts, on 
account of the depth of the water in some places, a 
favourable spot was found, and a mile run was indulged 
in, one rider doing the distance in 3 minutes 30 seconds. 
The party then visited what remains of one or two 
wrecks still left on the sands ; after which, as time 
was creeping on, a signal was made to go aboard, so 
they reshipped their bicycles, and returned to Deal in 
perfect safety, having greatly enjoyed their very 
singular and original run, which they will have the 
satisfaction of remembering was the first of the kind 
ever attempted on such an unlikely place as the 
Goodwin Sands ! 

Burials in the Suiids. 

Of all the extraordinary places in this world to fix 
upon for burial, the Goodwin Sands are perhaps the 
most amazing ; and yet there are two cases on record 
where persons have, by their own express directions, 
been interred in the sands. One of these was a gentle- 
man named Granville, the brother-in-law of Evelyn ; 
and most readers of his famous ' Diary ' will probably 
remember the circumstance. He says : — 

"Aj^ril 12th, 17U5.— My brother-in-law Granville 
departed this life this morning, after a long languishing 
illness, leaving a son by my sister, and two grand- 
daughters. Our relation and friendship bad been long 
and great. He was a man of excellent partes. He 
died in the 84th year of his age, and will'd his body 
to be wrapp'd in leade, and carried downe to Greenwich, 
put on board a ship, and buried in sea betweene Dover 


«,nd Calais, on the Goodwin Sands, Mliich was done on 
the Tuesday or Wednesday after. This occasioned 
rmch discourse, he having had no relation at all to 
Lie sea. 

This, to say the least, is certainly a most singular 
proceeding. For a man " having no relation at all to 
the sea " to desire so strange and incomprehensible 
a place of sepulture as the Goodwin Sands, seems 
utterly unaccountable, and indeed without any apparent 
reason ; the only possible explanation perhaps may be 
found in the one word, " eccentricity." 

The second case is given merely on the authority of 
a newspaper called the London Evenim/ Post. In 
this paper, under date May 16, 1751, the following 
somewhat loose statement is made : — 

" We have an account from Hambourg that on the 
10th April last, about six leagues off the North Fore- 
land, Captain Wyrck Pietersen, commander of the 
ship called the ' Johannes,' tooh up a cojjin made in the 
English manner, and with the following inscription 
upon a silver plate, ' Mr. Francis Humphrey Merrydith, 
died 25 March 1751, aged 51,' which coffin the said 
captain carried to Hambourg, and then opened it, in 
wliicli was enclosed a leaden one, and the body of an 
elderly man embalmed and dressed in fine linen. This 
is the corpse that was buried in the Goodwin Sands 
a few weeks ago, according to the Will of the 

Thus miicli for the extract from tlie London 
Eveninr/ Post. iJut the writer quite omits to tell 
his readers how it was that Captain Pietersen " took 
up the coffin." Was h(> dragging a trawl net after 


him? Or did his anchor foul the coffin? It would 
also be rather instructive to know what he ultimately 
did with this coffin, after having so improperly and 
unscrupulously presumed to open it. It is a disagree- 
able and unsatisfactory story at best. 




Oripn of the name — Dimensions — -The Sands a brealcwaier — 
Formerly a rendezvous for the Eoyal fleets — Old Naval Yard 
and Naval Hospital at Deal — Earthquakes and waterspouts — • 
Great stonas — The Downs a general battle-ground — Caesar's 
fleet — The Vykings — The fii'st regular naval engagement 
between Enp;land and France — Various others — Sandwich 
sacked and burnt twice — Earl of Warwick — Ferkin Warbeck's 
fleet — Sir Andrew Barrou — Immense fleet of Henry VIII. — Fleet 
of Charles V. — Life saved by a Deal boat in 1563 — Pirates and 
piracy in the Downs — Lord AVilliam Somerset robbed — 
Reprisals — The "Invincil>le Armada" — Its final defeat in the 
Downs — Prince Charles Edward's attack on Deal — Van Tromp 
— Blake — Severe engagement in the Downs — French and 
Euiihsli fleets combined — A "scare" — Coinmodore "Wylde's 
defeat — The ship ' Victory ' — Review of Deal Inggers in 184'_' 
— Various landings — Defences of the Downs — Walmer, Deal 
and Sandown Castles — Colonel Hutchinson — Armed luggers — 
Volnnt crs, naval and military — Harbours of refuge — Various 
schemes — Busli, Comly and others — Antiquities discovered in 
the Downs — Proverbs and sayings. 

As the Goodwin Sands are so intimately connected 
with the far-famed '" Downs," no meimnials of the 
former would be complete without a full account of 
the latter, including a sketch of most of the celebrated 
or remarkable events of which these historical waters 
have been the theatre. 


The word " Downs " is derived from the Saxon 
** aduna," or '' dunes/' protecting banks or pLvees of 
shelter, and they comprise that part of the Channel 
which lies between the Goodwins and the shore. They 
are in length and breadth about 6 or 7 miles each way, 
with a depth of from 8 to 12 fathoms. On the west 
and north-west the anchorage is sheltered by the 
Kentish coast ; on the north-east and south-east, by 
the Goodwins. The extreme north end is known as 
the " Small Downs," and lies inside the remarkable 
bank called the " Brake." (See Chart facing page 1.) 

It will probably surprise many to learn for the first 
time that there would be no safe anchorage in the 
Downs at all but for the neighbouring Goodwin Sands, 
and, however incredible it may appear at first sight, 
the statement is yet nevertheless perfectly true that 
the terrible Goodwins — the shoals of all others on the 
British Coast the most dreaded by navigators — are 
most eminently useful in their own particular way, 
although the reader may, likely enough, ask how, or 
in what manner can such a dangerous sand-bank be of 
the smallest possible use ? It is so, however. But for 
this sand bank, extending ten miles nearly parallel with 
the coast, leaving an open channel of seven miles, there 
would be no " Downs " in which ships can lie in perfect 
safety whilst contrary winds or storms prevail ; the 
Sands, in fact, forming a sort of natural and very ex- 
tensive breakwater, and giving to the Downs almost the 
advantage of a harbour of refuge, with comparatively 
smooth water and good anchorage ground. 

At low water the Sands form a regular barrier whilst 
easterly winds prevail, and even at high tides the water 


is too shallow to admit of great seas passing over tliis 
biirrier without beiug much broken np and dispersed — 
Hspecially in very stormy weather — before getting into 
the Downs. It is only southerly winds that are 
troublesome to shipping anchored hero, the danger 
being when the tide turns north, for then the combined 
force of wind and tide occasion a double strain on both 
anchor and cable, Avhicli only too oftfn ends in the 
loss of both. The subsequent recovering of such lost 
anchors and cables by dragging or •' sweeping," as it is 
sometimes locally called, forms an important salvage- 
job engerly sought for by the East Kent " hovellers."' * 

Thus is established the curious and contradictory 
fact that the Downs owe their existence, and their 
utility, wholly and solely to the presence of the dan- 
gerous Goodwin Sands, forming, as they do, on the 
eastern side a natural breakwater. 

From the earliest periods of history the Downs 
appear to have always been a regular rendezvous for 
ships of the Navy ; and more especially during the 
prevalence of European wars " His Majesty's Fleets ' 
were continually stationed, for long periods together,. 
Ill these favourite waters, so often referred to in Dibdiu's,. 
and other, sea songs of former da\s : — 

" All in the Downs the lleit ky iiKinied." 

"All civer the DdWiiss in the 'Nancy,' 
j\Iy jili hiiw she sla]i]iei1 tlmnigh the lireeze." 

" No braver deeds tlian ever turned the fate of kiiisis or cnnvns, 
And done for Kngland's glory hy hei- Voatmen of tlic Downs." 

Not only were the Downs generally found a safe- 
iiarboiir of refuge for the lioval Fleets, but, being: 


* See Appendix Nc 7. 


situated in the confined straight between France and 
England, they aftbrded a convenient point for observa- 
tion, for no vessels could proceed from north to south, 
or vice versa, without necessarily passing either through 
this narrow channel, or on the other side (or back) of 
the Goodwins. From a strategical point of view, 
therefore, the Downs, rendered partially safe by the 
protecting Sands as a natural breakwater, must have 
been, for many reasons, invaluable in war time, when 
electric telegraphs and steamships were alike unknown, 
but whilst Britain, with her " wooden walls," was still 
mistress of the seas. 

For the purpose of keeping the fleets fully supplied 
with all necessary stores whilst anchored in the 
Downs, a large space of ground, seven acres in extent, 
lying to the south of the town of Deal, had been 
occupied as a " Naval Yard," and known by that 
name since the days of Elizabeth. A high tower 
was erected here in 1793 for telegraphic purposes, 
repeating at Betshanger, by which orders could be 
communicated to the Admiralty at any hour of the 
day ; and a commodious hospital for the use of the 
crews of the fleets was also built on the high road 
close by. But the Downs, having long ceased to be 
a rendezvous for the royal ships, the old " Naval Yard " 
was in 18b'4 sold by the Admiralty for £13,200 as a 
building site, and it is at present partly occupied by 
private houses. The hospital has l)een transferred to 
the Royal Marines, and the Telegraph Tower is now 
used as a " Time Ball " station. 

Fleets of merchants' ships, to the number of many 
hundreds, may frequently be seen wind-bound, quietly 


riding at anchor in the Downs,* whilst the breakers 
were rolling their white crests heavily on the Sands 
from the outside — the east — and there spending their 
force in furious, though harmless grandeur, so far 
as the sheltered ships were concerned, which are in 
this way thoroughly protected ; for this dangerous 
eandhank, this '' ship swallower," this terror of mariners, 
here acting in its capacity as a hreakivater, becomes a 
real and most useful friend to sll wind-bound ships 
anchored within the sheltered area of the Downs. 

As eartLqnakes and waterspouts in our latitudes are 
■such singularly rare occurrences, it is not alti-gether 
surprising that so much notice was taken of those 
j)henomena which, we are told, actually appeared in 
the Downs and neighbourhood more than once; but 
in reading the stories of them, especially as rehited 
by the older writers, we cannot help feeling that 
there must Lave been a great deal of exaggeaition 
indulged in, and the accounts should therelore be 
received cum grano salts. We are gravely informed 
by an old autlior, that "a most fierce and terrible 
earthquake took place on the 6th of A[)ril 1C88," 
which was felt in a very remarkable manner by the 
ships lying in the Downs, as well as by some of the 
inland towns, the old Church of St. Mary Sandwich 

* Upwanls of four Imndreil sail have lieen counted, n,(i v than 
om-c, by the writer ; ami it is on record tlmt tliree entire Kn lish 
flei ts, imder three difl'erent admirals, have been known to reudei\ ous 
n the Doun^ at the same time. 


}iaving been nearly destroyed by it, and that of St. 
Teter also injured. It was described as being accom- 
panied by a " marvellouse greate noyse as though the 
same had been the shotte of some great batterie of a 
number of cannons going off at the same instant . . . 
which noyse seemed to be as though it had been 
midways between Calais and Dover." This, no doubt 
produced great motion and disturbance in the waters 
of the Downs, causing both fright and inconvenience 
to the crews of the various vessels then lying within 
their shelter. A repetition, it is said, of the shocks 
occurred again on the 2nd of the following May, 
attended by the same " greate noyse and shakinges as 
terrible as that in April la!?t." 

Again in 16j2 another earthquake is recorded to 
have been felt in the Downs and all along the coast, 
■doing very considerable damage in Deyl and Sandwich, 
the shocks being severely felt in Deal Castle notwith- 
standing the immense thickness and solidity of its 

The first record of any Avaterspout having appeared 
in these waters, puts the date as the 24th of March, 
1701. Many writers state that it was observed thai 
day by the " ships of His Majesty's Fleet "' just then 
lying at anchor in the Downs. It is described as 
liaving been of very great size, and of peculiar and 
striking appearance ; and after moving rapidly about 
over the surface of the sea, in close proximity to the 
•Goodwin Sands, for a period of about twenty minutes, 
it suddenly contracted and disappeared altogether with- 
out doing any damage. The weather vvas very cold 
--md windy at the time, and the sea in a state of very 

E 2 


great agitation, the breakers rolling heavily in hilloek& 
of white foam the whole length of the Sands. 

A second waterspout is reported to have been seen 
in the Downs like the last, close to the Sands, about 
the year 1830, which is said to have in some way 
injured one of the men-of-war at that time lying 
at anchor near the Goodwins, but few or no details 
seem to have been recorded. 

No account of the Downs would be complete without 
a reference to the celebrated storm commonly known 
as " the Great Storm," so graphically described by 
De Foe. This terrible visitation occurred on the 
27th of November, 1703, and has been frequently 
referred to as the most appalling and destructive ever 
recorded in the pages of European history. As a full 
account of this will be found in the chapter devoted to 
" Wrecks " (page 166), it will be unnecessary to allude 
to it further here. 

Another fearful storm is recorded to have broken 
over the Downs on the afternoon of the 18th of February, 
1807, which occasioned an enormous amount of damage 
to the ships then lying in the Downs. A barque went 
ashore at Kingsdown, and every soul on board perished, a 
similar fate attending another ship in St. Margiirct's 
Bay, whilst two others, one oft' Sandown and the other 
oft Dover, were seen to go down with all hands on board. 
IMany merchantmen that were known to have been 
sheltering in the Downs disappeared altogether, and 
were never afterwards heard of. It is quite possible — 
thourh not known as a fact — that thev were all driven 
on to the Sands, where, of course, in such a fearful gale, 
they would suon utterly go to pieces, without the 


chance <>f' saving a single life. Three men-of-war 
riding at anchor in the Downs, the ' Saleby,' the 
' Kailleiir,' and the 'Devastation/ were severely 
injured, their masts all " going by the board," whilst 
their hulls were badly damaged, but fortunately no 
lives were lost. In addition to all this, thirteen other 
vessels went ashore on the coast between Deal and the 
South Foreland, involving the loss of many lives and 
ships, together with much valuable property. It was 
estimated that altogether at least twenty-one vessels 
were lost throughout the Downs alone, either on the 
Sands or the neighbouring shores. The entire coast 
was strewed with property of every conceivable de- 
scription, and it is said that wholesale robbery, which 
the authorities in vain endeavoured to prevent, pre- 
vailed to an extraordinary extent, all ranks and classes 
eagerly joining in the general pillage : a despicable and 
atrocious practice, common enough eighty or ninety 
years ago, but now happily unknown, thanks to a 
better state of feeling having grown up, and possibly 
io the effect of laws at once stern and just. 

In the same year a very sad calamity, though of a 
iotally different nature, occurred on the 30th of Sep- 
tember, when the tide rose in the Downs as it had 
never done before, completely covering the Marshes to 
ihe north of the town of Deal, and reaching up to the 
houses, doing incredible damage, destroying cottages, 
ifields, gardens, crops, cattle, and severely injuriug 
scores of houses by making them damp and uninhabit- 
able, and causing the greatest distress and loss to the 
farmers, cottagers, and other residents. 

The Downs were again visited by another terrible 


and most destructive storm on the 29tli of November, 
1836, wlien about 400 vessels were lying at p^^'^^^^r 
there. So suddenly did this hurricane arise that 10' 
ships -were instantly dismasted, and a very large' 
number foundered with all on board. The hovelling 
boats could offer no help, as they could not keep afloat 
owing to the extreme violence of the gale. Next 
morning only 150 vessels were left in the Downs, the 
whole of the others having been either blown away 
from their anchors, driven ashore on the neighbouring 
coasts, or hopelessly lost in the Sands. Great damage 
was also done on shore, the roofs, chimneys, and oven, 
in some cases, the fronts of the houses, suffering 

Tlic DoT.ns have always held a prominent position 
in England's war history, even from the very earliest 
ages, and they seem to have been the general and 
favourite ground where both enemies and rebels were 
ready to stake their chances on the ordeal of battle. 
The channel here is very narrow between England and 
France, and being the great highway from Denmark 
and Flanders to France, Spain, and PortugaH was 
necessarily much frequented by vessels of all descrip- 
tions, and consequently afforded a fine opportunity for 
enemies of all kinds, privateers, or pirates, to lie in 
wait or cruise about with the view to battle or plunder^ 
The Downs, and the seas north and south, were much 
infested, for the above reasons, by pirates and priva- 
teers, as will be found detailed further on, and a 
gallant actiim has been fought out here, and many a. 


deed of blood and villainy committed by these lawless^ 

Tliis spot may be said to be the very opening scene- 
of English history, for it was here, in the Downs, that 
Caesar anchored his fleets on the occasion of each of 
his landings upon the neighbouring shores of Deal. 
Here it was. too, on the low flat ground, now called 
the Sandhills, that we are told the whole of his fleet 
was hauled up on dry land and a great earthwork built 
round it ; * and it was no doubt from these waters that 
the war galleys sailed away in the year 404, when the 
Komans bid final adieu to Britain. 

The whole region was also thoroughly familiar to 
those arch-pirates the irrepressible Vykings , and one of 
the earliest recorded of sea-battles took place in the 
Downs in the year 851, when a large Danish fleet, 
under Ealcher the Dane, was attacked between Sandown 
and Deal by the English, commanded by x\thelstan, 
son of Egbert, the Danes being completely routed and 
dispersed with the loss of nine of their ships. The 
Danes, however, appeared again and again in subsequent 
years, plundering and burning Sandwich in 1046 ; but, 
alter the Conquest, they appear to have abandoned all 
further attempts on these shores, probably from a 
vrholesome fear of William the Norman. 

It was here, in the Downs, that the first regular 
naval engagement at all worthy of the name, conducted 
in open waters, and by ships under canvas, was fought 
out between England and France. In the year 1215 a 
large fleet of ships was fitted out by Philip Augustus, 
King of France, at the instance of Pope Innocent III., 
* feet' Appendix No. 8. 


backed by the most extravagant promises on the part 
of his Holiness, for the invasion and svil)jugation of 
England and the deposition of King John. The fleet 
was met in the Downs somewhere to the north of Deal 
by the English fleet, numbering 36 vessels, under the 
command of Hubert de Burgh. Cannon of any kind 
of course they had none, as gunpowder was not invented 
nntil a hnndred years later, but each English ship was 
well provided with skilful archers, the old English 
longbow being the most formidable missile weapon of 
that day. The bowmen commenced the battle by a 
heavy fire of arrows, and when these had done their 
work the vessels were run up to close quarters and 
boarded, one detachment of boarders attacking the 
crews of the French ships, whilst another, armed with 
heavy axes, cut away the rigging and masts, thus 
disabling the ships at once. The onslaught was so 
fierce and determined that, although the Frenchmen 
displayed the greatest bravery, and were vastly superior 
in numbers both of vessels and men, yet they were 
powerless to resist the shock of the attack, and shortly 
surrendered to the English commander; whilst it is 
said that upwards of a hundred knights, rather than 
be taken prisoners, leaped into the sea just as they 
stood, and clail in all their heavy armour! 

Anotlier desperate naval battle was fought two 
years afterwards, in 1217, between the two nations. 
Louis tlie Dauphin of France, son of King Philip, was 
invited l)y the English barons to assist them in their 
quarrel with King John, the barons offering the 
crown to the Dauphin as a reward, if tlicy succeeded 
in deposing the King. Accordingly a fleet of SO ships 


was fitted out and assembled at Calais and the 
neighboiTring forts, for another descent upon the 
English coast. To meet this advance 40 vessels 
took up a position in the Downs under the command 
•of the admiral of the Cinque Ports. Although the 
English ships numbered but half those of their oppo- 
nents, the admiral, having apparently little fear of the 
result, weighed anchor and sailed towards Calais to 
look for the enemy. The meeting took place some- 
where to the south of the Goodwin Sands, and the 
English, having the wind in their favour, adopted the 
j)lan followed in modern days by our own " steam 
rams," of steering full upon the enemy's transports 
and fairly running them down, by which a great 
many were sunk at once, and hundreds of soldiers as 
well as sailors were drowned. It is also related that a 
■curious stratagem was adopted by the English to 
prevent boarding by the enemy. The decks of our 
vessels were said to be covered with quicklime, which, 
as the wand was very high, blew into the faces of the 
Frenchmen when they attempted to mount the ships' 
sides, and- thus, being nearly blinded, they gave up the 
attempt. At least so goes the story — a most im- 
probable one at best — so improbable indeed that few 
would be inclined to believe it. 

A portion of the French fleet, finding that victory 
was hopeless, drew ofi", leaving the remainder to deal 
with the English as best they might, ran through the 
Downs, landing at Sandwich, carried the place by a 
■eoup-de-inain, and having burnt and destroyed the 
town, retreated to their ships immediately afterwards, 
regaining the French coast by a circuitous route. 


This appears to have been the last attempt of" Lonis to- 
invade England and usurp the crown which had been 
so generously offered him by the English barons, and 
so magnanimously promised him by the Pope. 

In the year 1340, an immense fleet was assembled 
in the Downs, by command of Edward III., to do 
battle with our " ancient enemy " across the Channel, 
in order to enforce Edward's claim to the crown of 
France, and to punish Philip, the son of John, King of 
France, for having aided the Scots in their wars with 
the English, This fleet, which assembled in June, 1.^40, 
numbered 2f)0 ships, and they met their foes off Sluys 
in full battle array. The fight is described as having 
been long and bloody, and the loss fearfully great on 
both sides, but the English were victorious at last. 
The French numbered nearly 300 sail, of which it is 
reported that 230 were sunk, cnrrying with them 
the enormous number of 30,000 sailors and soldiers. 

The next remarkable incident which was enacted 
in the Downs occurred in 14.")n, wlien the large fleet,, 
under Sir Simon de Montfort, wliicli was lying in the 
Downs for the express protection of Sandwich, was 
surprised by Richard Neville, Karl of Warwick — the 
" Kingmaker " — when Montfort's entire fleet surren- 
dered almost u:ifhout a How ; one of those extraordinary 
circumstances which we occasionally read of in the 
pages of history, but which history entirely fails to 
account for, or even exphiin.* Warwick at once 
advanced on Sandwich, which was again pillaged and 

* The sunciidor ol" the strongly furtifieil ami fully pnivisiuued 
rity of Metz in 1870, for instance, with a garrison of 85,000 men 
amply provided with every requisite for war. 


burnt as well as all the villages near it ; after which 
the conqueror retired to the coast of France, with the 
whole of the ships he had taken. 

After the death of the Earl of Warwick, his brother 
Thomas Keville was — jDerhaps unjustly — deprived of 
his command as Admiral of the Channel. This so 
exasperated him that he at once turned rebel and 
pirate, and having assembled a fleet, visited the 
Downs in 1471, landed at Deal and proceeded to Sand- 
wich, Canterbury, and London ; but, finding his 
followers deserting him, he was glad to escape by 
means of his ships to the Thames, and retreat to 
Sandwich, where, however, he was pnrsued by the 
forces of Edward IV., and the unfortunate city was 
again the scene of another siege, Neville holding out 
stoutly against the King, but the city being finally 
reduced by the l^oyal troops, the Admiral was taken 
prisoner, brought to London, and shortly afterwards^ 

It was here that the notorious pretender Perkin 
Warbeck, the personator of the young Duke of York,, 
who was murdered in the Tower of London by his 
Uncle Eichard in 1483, anchored his fleet in July,. 
14U5 ; but, fearing to land himself until he could form 
some idea as to how he was likely to be received, sent 
forward 150 of his followers to ascertain the feeling 
and the temper of the people. This not being 
altogether satisfactory, the graceless coward sailed 
away, leaving the whole of these unfortunate men 
behind. They were, as might be supposed, immediately 
seized as rebels and marched to London in chains, 
where they were all executed under circumstances of the 


greatest barbarity, tlieir bodies being quartered, and 
sent round the coasts of Kent and Sussex for exhibition 
on gibbets. 

These historical waters, and the seas to the north, 
south, cast, and west, were the favourite hunting 
grounds of the celebrated Scottish privateer Sir Andreiv 
Barton, who sailed under " letters of marque " specially 
granted to him and his brother by James lY. of Scot- 
land, in order that they might malce reprisals on the 
Portuguese for losses at sea sustained by their father, 
a " merchant venturer " of great wealth — at least such 
was the pretence ; for though sailing as a " privateer," 
under Koyal authority, there can be no sort of doubt 
that Barton was no better than an unscrupulous, daring, 
and villainous pirate, who, with the excuse of over- 
hauling vessels for Portuguese goods, took care to help 
himself to everything of value that came in his way, 
no matter whether the ships attacked were foreign or 
English. He w^as said to be the bravest and most 
accomplished sailor of his day, and his two ships, the 
largest and best equipped of the time, saving always 
the ' Great Harry,' built in 1504, Barton's own 
vessel, the ' Lion,' carried 36 guns, and tliat of his 
brother, the ' Unicorn,' 30, very large armaments 
indeed fi>r those days. He ultimately amassed great 
riches, and grew at last so bold and aud;icious that 
complaints were made almost daily to the Privy 
Council, and to the King himself (ILnn y \ HI.), of the 
piracies, excessep, and misdeeds committed by the two 
brothers. On this tiie King ordered two vessels to go 
in immediate pursuit of him, commanded by Sir Thomas 
iiiil Sii' Ivlwai'd Ifowiinl, sous of the Earl of Surrey, 


the same Sir Edward who was afterwards created 
Admiral of England. The brothers came up with 
Barton somewhere to the north of the Downs, on the 
2nd of August, 1511. A desperate conflict followed, 
Barton exhorting his men not to flinch, and en- 
couraging them by his well-known whistle ; but the 
' Unicorn ' having been sunk with all hands aboard, 
and Sir Andrew himself shortly afterwards killed by 
an arrow, the ' Lion ' was boarded and taken by the 
Howards and towed into the Thames.* 

The prodigious number of ships-of-war which were- 
wont to assemble in the Downs at this period, when 
descents on the French coast or other hostile operations 
were contemplated, seems to us moderns almost in- 
credible. Thus we read that Henry VIII. sailed from 
the Downs in 1513, for the invasion of France, with 
400 ships, having on board 600 archers, the whole fleet 
under the command of Admiral Lord Howard ; and 
again, the next year, 1514, Lord Lovell left the Downs 
with another fleet of 400 vessels, and a force of 5000 
men, for the purpose of strengthening the garrison of 
Calais. It seems a marvel that nearly 1000 ships 
could be readily gathered together within the small 
space of two years. Even in these days, with all our 
ample resources and vast wealth, it would be a task, 
not altogether without some difiiculty, to assemble 
together, at such sliort notice, so very large a force of 
war vessels and transports. 

The great and illustrious Emperor, Charles V., 
nephew of Katharine of Arragon, when he came to 
Enghvid to visit Henry YIII. in 1520, was attended by 
* See Appeuuix No. 9. 


a fleet of 44 war-ships, which lay at anchor in the 
Downs during his absence with the King ; and it was 
from thence that these Sovereigns sailed to meet 
Francis I. of France, to be present at the famous " Field 
of the Cloth of Gold " at Guisnes. 

The dwellers in Deal and its neighbourhood will be 
much interested to know that the first regularly 
recorded instance in history of the saving of life by a 
" Deal Boat," so expressly mentioned, occurred in 1563, 
when the Earl of Warwick, having been appointed 
Governor of Newhaven by Queen Elizabeth, sailed for 
liis destination from Portsmouth, but was driven by 
contrary winds to take refuge in the Small Downs, and 
his ship the ' New Barke,' being in the greatest 
danger, and threatened with immediate destruction, he 
and his staff were taken off by a " Deal Boat " — so named 
in the record — and landed in safety at Sandown Castle, 
whence he proceeded to Dover, to start a second time 
for his destination, only to be a second time driven 
into the Downs for shelter. He managed, however, at 
last to reach Newhaven, after much vexatious delay. 

The Downs, and the waters adjacent, which had for 
centuries become almost the highway of commercial 
Europe, about this period were greatly infested with 
pirates, French, Flemish, Portuguese, and, it must be 
confessed, English too, as the following statement will 
show : —Three men-of-war oalhd the 'Antelope,' the 
'Swallow.' and the 'Aide,' with TjOO men. wore ex- 
pressly sent, in 1568, by order of Qiecn l.lizabeth, to 
cruise in the Downs for the avowed purpose of making- 
prizes of any vessels they might fall in with. In a 
very short time it is reported that they had captured 


11 Flemish and 14 Portuguese merchantmen laden 
with plate, wine, spices, etc., which were all speedily 
sent off to London. Although under the express orders 
■of the Queen, yet it cannot be denied that this sort of 
wholesale and indiscriminate robbery is simply down- 
right piracy, and nothing else ; but the old excuse may 
be readily urged, '• If all others do it, why should we 
refrain ? " which happened to be perfectly true, as the 
Lord William Somerset found to his cost a year or two 
afterwards. He was sent as the Queen's proxy, to be 
present at the christening of the child of the King 
of France, and took with him, amongst other com- 
plimentary gifts, a magnificent " font of gold," said 
to have weighed •)26 ounces. Somewhere between 
Simdwich and Calais he was attacked by pirates (we 
are not told of what nationality), who robbed him of 
the whole of his valuables, including the splendid font. 
This so incensed the Queen that she ordered Captain 
Holstocke to take post in the Downs, with a number of 
vessels, and to destroy, without mercy, every piratical 
ship he could manage to catch. In less than a month, 
we are told, the gallant captain had secured 20 pirates 
of all nations, and 900 prisoners, all of whom were 
immediately incarcerated, whilst lar^c nuuibers of them 
were executed. Then having manfully fulfilled his 
commission, and destroyed these so called-pirates, the 
high-principled captain, by way of improving the 
occasion, turned pirate himself, and quickly succeeded 
in capturing 15 merchant ships with rich cargoes, all 
of which were sent into the Downs for security. This 
history gives us a singular specimen of the ideas of our 
ancestors 301) years ago, as regards moral honesty and 


consistency of purpose, especially in matters of meum- 
et tuuiii. The very man who was sent out, under the 
authority of the Queen's commission, to punish piracy,, 
deliberately turns pirate himself, and as deliberately 
plunders every merchant ship which falls in his way — 
a specimen of atrocious villainy which nothing can 
excuse or justify. 

Following the course of history in regular order, the 
next event of importance which occurred in and near 
the Downs, was the final defeat and dispersion of the 
celebrated " Invincible Armada." As the history of 
the whole expedition is so thoroughly well known, I 
will merely remind the reader that, as it was supposed 
the Spaniards intended sailing up the Channel and 
landing on the flat shores of the Downs, at or near 
Deal, a strong force was assembled all along this coast^ 
so stationed as to act in concert on any one given 
point where a landing might be attempted, (^ueen 
Elizabeth had been strongly urged not to trust to her 
naval forces, but to permit the Spaniards to land first, 
and then to depend solely on her military power to 
crush the invaders on shore. Fortunately she thoui^ht 
otherwise, and determined to meet the enemy on the 
sea, before he had the chance of even efl'ecting a 

"The most foituuate and invincible Armada," as 
King Pliilip so arrogantly termed it, consisted of 130 
ships, and 20 caravels, having on board nearly 22,000 
soldiers, 8,700 sailors, 1,35.") volunteers, nolilcmen^ 
gentlemen, and others, and 2,088 galley slaves, with 
3,165 pieces of ordnance, the whole commanded l)y the 
Duke of ]\[edina Sidonia, with Admiral Ilecalde a& 


second. The English fleet altogether ntimhered about 
191 ships, that is to say, that was the number collected 
by the Government, including those ofi'ered by j^atriotic 
gentlemen, noblemen, and volunteers. The whole was 
commanded by Admiral Lord Howard of Effingham, 
with Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, as Vice-Admirals. 
A part of the fleet, nnder Lord Henry Seymour and 
Sir William Winter, lay off" Flanders to intercept the 
Prince of Parma and his fleet of leaky, flat-bottomed 
boats. The Armada, after many mishaps, finally 
arrived off" the Lizard about the 21st of July, 1588, 
and when near Plymouth, was immediately attacked by 
Effingham, and a running fight was carried on the 
whole way up the Channel, the enemy retreating, and 
the English following closely, doing great damage to 
the huge Spanish vessels by the smartness and dex- 
terity with which both our ships and guns were 
handled. The Armada eventually came to anchor to 
the south of the Goodwins, the pilots having given 
timely warning to the fleets of the dangerous proximity 
of the Sands, and it was hereabouts that the final 
action was fought out. 

The English fleet, having been joined by Seymour 
and Winter, now numbered about 191) vessels, and 
having spread the greatest alarm and confusion among 
the enemy by sending in eight fire-ships, now fell upon 
the Armada with the greatest fury, and after a sharp 
fight of fourteen hours, the Spanish Admiral ordered a 
retreat northwards, still, however, closely followed by 
Effingham and his brave admirals, until, most unfortu- 
nately for England's glory, their ammunition totalhj 
failed, inasmuch as every round had been expended, 



and the fleet was compelled to give up the pursnit. 
But for this untoward misfortune, the English would 
have compelled the " Invincible " Armada to have 
surrendered at discretion, — a most illustrious and 
brilliant conclusion to the English enterprise. As it 
was, the Spaniards only escaped by sailing through 
the North Sea, and round by the east and north coasts 
of Scotland, and the west coast of Ireland. And it was 
in its passage along this latter coast that the disasters 
and distresses of the Armada were most deplorable. 
The loss of officers and men here by shipwreck and 
sickness, and the destruction of their ships, exceeded 
in a great degree all their misfortunes and discomfiture 
in the English Channel, the Downs, and the North 
Sea. An account, taken apparently with great care, 
after a minute examination of various parties, in dif- 
ferent parts of the coast, gives the following result : — 

Ships. Men. 

On the west coast of Ireland were wreckecl 

and destroyed 17 5,3\n 

In tlu' Hiirisli Chamiel, the Downs, and the 

Morth Sea, it was estimated at least . . 15 4,71)1 

32 10,185 

This does not include those who were killed in fight, 
or wlio died of wounds, sickness, or famine ; and thus, 
after many vicissitudes from winds and waves, the once 
mighty and so-called "Fortunate and Invincible 
Armada," or, more strictly speaking, what was left of 
it, reached Spain a miserable wreck. Out of 150 ships 
which started with the determination of conquering 
England and capturing the Queen, a little over '>(), 
shattered and broken, returned, whilst nearly a bun- 


<lred were either burnt, sunk in action, taken by the 
English, or lost by storm or tempest. Stow makes the 
loss even greater still, and Harris and Hakluyt (quoted 
in Barrow's ' Life of Drake ') say : " Of one hundred 
and four and thirty sail that came out of Lisbon, only, 
three and fifty returned to Spain. They lost 81 ships, 
and upwards of 13,500 men." Elizabeth's medal, 
struck to commemorate this great event, spoke truly 
enough in the famous motto, "Afflavit Deus et dissi- 
pantur." * 

During the struggle between the King and the 
Parliament, Prince Charles (afterwards Charles II.j, 
■entered the Downs early in the year 1648 with a large 
fleet, although with what exact intention or for what 
purpose we are not told. The Earl of Warwick, 
having notice of this, immediately sailed from Ports- 
mouth with several ships, and cast anchor in the 
Downs. Charles, however, being short of provisions, 
though said to be anxious and willing to fight, returned 
to Holland, but in August of the same year he agnin 
appeared in the Dow^ns, and attacked the town of Deal, 
then defended by the Parliamentarians under Colonel 
Rich. The Pioyalist forces landed at the sandhills a 
little to the north of Deal, and marched to a position 
having the marshes in front. Rich's cavalry began the 
•conflict by advancing across the marshes ; but being 
greatly disconcerted by the rough and irregular nature 
■of the ground, and the sharp fire of the Royalists, v/ero 
compelled to retreat in great confusion, and the 
Royalists, leaving their strong position, and advancing 
to firmer ground were taken in flank by the horsomi n 
* See Appendix iN'o. 10. 

F 2 


whilst a vigorous infantry charge met them in front at 
the same moment. The fight was short and sharp, but 
after a gallant resistance, Charles's troops fled in utter 
disorder, leaving a large number of dead and wounded 
behind them, the survivors getting on board the ships 
as well as they could, a movement which it does not 
appear that Eich's forces made any attempt , to 

War having been declared against the Dutch in 1652, 
the Downs were the scene of much fighting between, 
the navies of England and Holland. Van Tromp, the 
famous Dutch admiral, with 40 ships, had anchored in 
the Downs, close to the North Sand Head, with the 
intention of attacking Sir George Ayscue, whose fleet 
was then lying in the Downs just opposite Deal, the 
whole of the low-level shore being protected by earth- 
works and artillery. Tan Tromp, however, for some 
occult reason, suddenly altered his mind, weighed 
anchor, and sailed away to the North Sea in pursuit oi 
1 .dke, whilst Ayscue, at the same time, fell in with 80 
n^erchant ships from Holland, convoyed by four Dutch 
men-of-war. The whole of these were either taken or 
cjotroycd by Ayscue after a sharp aciiDU in the South- 
ern Downs just below the Goodwins, and in sight of 
Dover. Meantime Van Tromp speedily returned with 
an immense fleet of 70 ships of war guarding a number 
of merchantmen through the channel, and on tlie 29th 
of November he encountered lUake, whose fleet had 
been partly dispersed for the winter, and now only 
numbered 40 ships. Heading these, however, in his 
own rdiip flic 'Triumph,' Blake at once gallantly 
attacked the Datchmen. A desperate battle ensued,. 


•entailing fearful loss on both sides, but Blake effected 
a safe retreat to the Thames, whilst Van Tromp sailed 
away to Holland. Van Tromp made a great deal of 
this action, always claiming it as a " decisive victory," 
when in reality, it was something very like a drawn 
battle in which neither party gained any advantage. 
Van Tromp's triumph, however, was but of short 
•duration, for, not very long afterwards, he again en- 
countered Blake oft' Dungeness, when he was totally 
•defeated and his fleet entirely destroyed. 

But one of the most prolonged and terrible actions 
ever recorded in the annals of British naval history 
took place the following year, 1653, when Cromwell 
determined to carry on the war against the Dutch. 
A vast fleet, under the joint command of Monk, Dean, 
Penn, and Blake, numbering over 100 sail, kept watch 
in the Downs and Channel, harassing and attackinfj 
the Dutch on every possible opportunity ; but being 
decoyed away to the North Sea by a clever stratagem 
•of Van Tromp's, that astute sailor immediately ap- 
peared in the Downs capturing every vessel that 
came in his way, and finally attacking the batteries 
of Deal Castle. On the 31st of May, hearing of the 
approach of the English fleet, Van Tromp — doubtless 
bearing in mind his defeat of the previous year — 
immediately set sail for the coast of Holland ; but he 
was met by the English a little to the north of the 
■ Goodwin Sands. The fleets were fairly matched, each 
numbering about 100 ships. A severe engagement 
followed, which was continued without intermission for 
•over two ivhole days with unabated fury, when the 
Dutch were at length finally defeated with the loss 


of 13 ships, 7 taken and 6 sunk, 1,550 of their crews 
prisoners, and over 2,000 killed and wounded.* 

An unusual sight was witnessed in the Downs in 
May 1672, namely, an English fleet of 100 ships and a 
French fleet of 40, meeting not in fierce rivalry with 
guns run out and linstocks hurning, ready for 
immediate action, but in amicable combination for 
the purpose of attacking a common enemy — the 
Dutch — in accordance with a treaty between Charles II, 
and Louis XIV. The allies soon fell in with the 
Dutch fleet of 120 sail off Southwold, Suff"olk, and after 
a desperate action, involving immense loss on both 
sides, the allies were victorious, and the remains of 
the Dutch fleet retreated to Holland. 

A very amusing circumstance, which in these days 
would be called a " scare," occurred in the year 
1GS8. which is thus described by a local historian, 
Pritchnrd, in his very interesting 'History of Deal.' 
"On the 14th of December, 1688, a report was sent 
to Sandwich from Deal, that a large number of Irish 
Roman Catholics were in the Downs on board several 
ships; and that they were going to land on Deal 
Beach, with hostile intentions. To prevent this 
design it was deemed necessary that the male popula- 
tion should sally forth and occupy the three Castles 
of Sandowu, Deal, and Walnier. No less than 20 
strange vessels had anchored in the Downs, and the 
Deal boatmen, in attempting to board them, had been 
rudely repulsed ; hence it was concluded that some 
mischief was intended. The inhabitants were dread- 
fully alarmed and excited in consequence, so that trades- 
* See Appendix Nn. 11. 


men, mechanics, seamen, and gentlemen all congregated 
together, armed as best they could, to repel any attack 
that might be attempted. Some had clubs, swords, 
and pistols ; others scythes, or anything indeed they 
could lay their hands on ... , All this was occas- 
sioned by the flight of King James II, (1688) which 
was strengthened by a report that the French King 
meant to reinstate him on the throne of England, by 
an army to be landed on the coast," The historian 
goes no further, and we are not even informed what 
became of the terrible and mysterious fleet, the mere 
sight of which, backed by the unsupported stories of the 
repulsed boatmen, had worked such a marvellous panic 
amongst the patriots of Deal and Sandwich. The vessels 
were, likely enough, simply wind-bound merchantmen, 
and the crews, very probably foreigners, speaking- 
no English, and thereby misapprehending the attentions 
of the worthy boatmen ; and it is quite possible that 
the crews were neither Irish nor Roman Catholics, 
and that they never, for a moment, entertained the 
smallest thought of "landing" at all, certainly not 
with hostile intentions against the good people of Kent, 
in favour of either the deposed King, or the Eoman 
or any other Church whatever. 

And now historical truth obliges me to refer to an 
uccurrence certainly not common in the annals of 
English Naval History, namely, a defeat ; but although 
we were beaten certainly, yet the action was a most 
brilliant afiair, and the English bore themselves right 
bravely in the face of the most overwhelming odds. 
In the year 1706, Commodore Wylde was engaged in 
convoying 55 English merchant ships out of the 



Southern Downs, wlien he was unexpectedly attacked 
by a French fleet of no less than 15 sail. The 
Commodore had only three war ships with him, all 
Ti's — his own, the ' lioyal Oak,' the ' Grafton,' and 
the ' Hampton Court.' The unequal contest was 
maintained by Commodore "Wylde for nearly three 
hours with most determined courage and gallantry, 
until both the ' Grafton ' and the ' Hampton Court ' 
were disabled and taken, but the ' Koyal Oak,' though 
assailed by three huge Frenchmen, contrived, notwith- 
standing her shattered condition, to make good her 
retreat back into the Downs, wdiither, for some un- 
explained reason, she was not followed by any of the 
French fleet, and so effected her escape. One half of the 
merchant ships, in addition to the two men-of-war, fell 
into the hands of the enemy, but the remainder managed 
to get away. 

A very interesting circumstance may now be 
mentioned as having happened in the Downs, which, 
though not a battle, was the consequence of a very 
great and celebrated one. On the IGtli of December, 
] 805, H.M.S. * Victory ' anchored off Deal, under jury 
masts, just as she had come direct from the scene of the 
memorable flght in " Trafalgar's Bay " eight weeks 
before, having on board the body of Kelson. Here she 
remained for three days, owing to a heavy northerly 
gale, and during this time the greatest possible respect 
was shown to the presence of the illustrious dead, every 
flag, ashore and afloat, being run up half-mast. 

The last demonstration of any kind that took place 
in these historical waters, though not in any Avay 
pertaining to warlike operations, was a display of boats 


ananned by civilians and carried out in November, 
1842. It was intended in honour of, and to express 
their loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, on the 
■occasion of her visit to Walmer Castle, then in the 
occupation of the Duke of Wellington, as Lord Warden 
<jf the Cinque Ports. The whole fleet of first class 
luggers belonging to Deal, Walmer, and Kingsdown, 
•on a pre-arranged signal being given, were launched 
from the beach simultaneously along the whole line 
•of coast, and made sail for the Downs, and then, under 
full canvas, passed in front of Walmer Castle. The 
boats numbered over 50, and the spectacle is described 
as having been most animated, and was certainly very 
novel of its kind, from the fact of the great number of 
luggers all appearing at once, keeping together, and 
steering in the same direction. Her Majesty, Prince 
Albert, and the Duke of Wellington were all highly 
gratified at this interesting demonstration ; and those 
in the Eoyal suite who knew anything at all about 
such matters, were particularly struck by the consum- 
mate skill and admirable tact displayed by the 
Kentish " hovellers " in the handling of these fine 
first class luggers, as they were sailed backwards 
and forwards through the Downs.* 

Amongst the many " landings " which have taken 
place at difterent periods on these old historical shores 
or their immediate neighbourhood, there are two which 
ought not to be forgotten, one in 1539, and the other 
in 1818. On each occasion a gallant fleet anchored in 
the Downs having in charge a fair and amiable princess. 

* See also " Defences of the Downs " for another demonstration 
'by luggers, p. 78. 


Each of tliese ladies landed at Deal, receiving every 
mark of respect and loyalty from the inhabitants, and 
each ultimately became Queen of England. The first 
was Anne of Cleeves, fourth wife of Henry YIII. under 
the escort of Lord Southampton, and a fleet of 50 
ships ; the other was the Princess Adelaide of Saxe 
Coburg Meiningen, afterwards Queen Adelaide, wife of 
William lY. The Princess was attended by Admiral 
Lord Keith and a large fleet of men-of-war. It is well 
known that Her Majesty always entertained a kindly 
recollection of her warm and generous reception by the 
good citizens of Deal, remembering too that here it 
was that she first touched British ground. The " Koyal 
Adelaide Baths " at Deal were so named in honour of 
Her Majesty. They were taken down in 1887. 

Defences of the Doicns. 

The flat open shore of East Kt-nt, lying between the 
two Forelands, forming the western boundary of the 
sheltering Downs, and in close proximity to France, 
has always offered convenient " landing-places " for 
invaders, which fact Caesar and the Danes were not 
slow to discover, as well as enemies much nearer home. 
Nor must we forget the commanders of the "Fortunate 
and Invincible Armada," whose plan of operations was 
to sail up the Channel and land on the flat open shores 
of either Sussex or Kent, only tlieir g(^()d intentions 
were somewhat rudely frustrated liy l^tiingham and his 
brave comrades. The first to notice this fact, as well 
as the o]ieii and defenceless state of the coast, was 
Henry YIIL, whose frequent voyages across the ChanneF 


must have rendered him very familiar with these shores, 
and whose keen eye and versatile ability nothing 
seemed to escape. Fronde says of him : " He was his 
own engineer, inventing improvements in artillery and 
new constructions in ship-building ; and this, not with 
the condescending incapacity of a royal amateur, but 
with thorough workmanlike understanding. . . . In 
all directions of human activity Henry displayed 
natural powers of the highest order and the highest 
stretch of industrious culture." * To Henry, therefore, 
the country was indebted for the protection and fortifi- 
cation of the shore before referred to, and Lambard 
tells us in his History that " castles, platforms, and 
blockhouses were erected in all needful places, fearing 
lest the ease and advantage of landing on this part 
should give occasion and encouragement to his (the 
King's) enemies to invade him." Three strong and 
permanent works were accordingly built ; two remain 
in perfect preservation to the present day, and the 
ruins of the third. These are the castles of Walmer, 
Deal, and Sandown, situated about a mile ajmrt; 
Sandown being the most northern and Walmer the 
most southern. These three were begun by Henry, 
l)ut completed by Elizabeth, who made a personal 
inspection of them all on the occasion of her visit to 
Sandwich and Deal. Stowe tells us that the cost of 
these defences was paid partly out of the money pro- 
duced by the plunder of the suppressed monasteries, 
and partly by robbing Canterbury Cathedral of every- 
thing of value that it possessed — a statement that few 
will read without feelings of unutterable shame and 
* Fixiude's History, \ol. [., p. 158. 


<lisgust. The plan of these three castles was the same, 
«, massive central round tower, surroimdecl by four 
hastions and lunettes, with heavy walls from 11 to 20 
feet in thickness, and the whole encircled by an 
immensely wide and deep moat. 

Walmer and Deal Castles have each of them a modern 
dwelling-house, which, with singularly bad taste, has 
'been erected on the ramparts, giving them a peculiarly 
strange and unsightly appearance. Walmer stands 
back further from the sea than either of the others, 
and possesses the advantage of beautiful and extensive 
gardens at the back, stretching inland. It is the 
ofl&cial residence of the " Lord Warden of the Cinque 
Ports," and will be always memorable as the last 
residence of the great Duke of Wellington, who died 
there on the 18th of September, 1852. 

Deal Castle is quite on the beach, and has no garden 
-at all, except the huge moat, which is very neatly 
•cultivated. It is always occupied by the " Captain." * 

Old Leland, albeit he was not much given to joking, 
has a Latin distich in honour of the then newly-built 
-castle of Deal : — • 

"Jactat Dela novas Celebris arces, 
IS'otus Csesaris locus Trophajis." 

of which he favours us with the following free trans- 
lation : — 

" licnowncd Dele doth vaunte itself, 
With turrets newly raised, 
For uionuiuents of Ca'sars host 
A place in storie praised." 

* At present (188o) Lord Granville is " Lord Warden of the 
Cinque Ports," and Lord Sydney " Captain " of Deal Castle. 


allndiiig, I presume, to the fact that Caesar's landing- 
took place in the immediate vicinity of the site of the 
castle, of which event the castle would be a sort of 

Sandown Castle has long ceased to he anything but 
an interesting ruin. The sea had been long en- 
croaching upon it, and in 1785, during a violent storm,, 
the moat on the east (or sea) side was completely 
destroyed and filled up with shingle ; and in 1793 the 
Castle was declared unfit for habitation. It was, 
however, repaired and a small garrison kept there- 
during the wars of the early part of this century, and 
latterly it was used as a Coast Guard station, until,, 
becoming thoroughly unsafe, the Government in 1864 
sold what they could of it for £565 and dismantled 
the rest. The sea, however, continuing the work of 
destruction, the authorities determined to remove the 
Castle altogether, and in the autumn of 1882 the ruins 
were handed over to a contractor from Dover for the 
purpose of transferring the stones to build an additional 
wing to Dover Castle. The taking down of this old 
structure was found to be a work of much difficulty, as- 
the stonework is bedded in with concrete made of the 
old Eoman cement, which is absolutely harder than 
the stone itself, so that it had to be frequently loosened 
with gunpowder. The vast thickness of the walls and 
the fine quality of the masonry have been plainly 
exhibited in the laborious difficulties encountered in 
tiifir removal. 

This castle is only memorable as having been for 
eleven months the prison of Colonel Hutchinson, one^ 
of '^^e regicides who signed the death-warrant of King: 


Charles T. The Colonel died here in September, 1G6-1, 
and a memoir of him which appeared in a number of 
Good Words (1880), endeavours to impress the public 
with the idea that the Colonel was not only a 
patriot, but a genuine hero and martyr as well — a 
proposition about which there are certainly two 

In 1793 two so-called "batteries" were erected on 
the shore to the north of Sandown Castle, for the 
further protection of the coast, and a telegraph 
established at the Naval Yard, repeating at Betshanger 
as already stated, in order to communicate direct with 
the Admiralty. 

Nor were the defences of the Downs confined to 
works on land only, for in 1803, on the renewal of 
hostilities with France and the expected invasion by 
Bonaparte, the inhabitants of Deal hit upon the 
ingenious and novel expedient of fitting out a fleet of 
the largest and strongest of the Deal luggers, each 
armed with one carronade, a 12 or 18 pounder 
according to the size of the boat, and manned by 
Deal " hovellers." In the age of slow sailing, and 
before the days of steam, such a fleet of gunboats 
handled by skilful and determined men, would, no 
doubt, fi-om the celerity of their movements, have 
proved most eflicient, and done good service had they 
ever been called into action. 

Thirty-five of these boats, so armed, were reviewed 

on the 15th of September, 1803, by "William Titt, when 

Warden <)f the Cinque Ports. The l)oats having 

formed in line between Deal and Walmer, the whole 

* Sro Appendix No. 2. Sandown Cuslle. 


fleet fired a salute in front of the Castle, on the 
ramjDarts of which Mr. Pitt and a large party of 
friends were standing. After this Mr. Pitt and some 
friends, embarked on board one of the finest luggers 
commanded and steered by Captain T. Canney, 
Warden of Pilots,* and sailed up and down and rouud 
about the little fleet, amidst the most deafening cheers 
from the boats, which were quickly taken up, and 
responded to with hearty goodwill, from the assembled 
crowds upon the shore. The smart and skilful 
handling of the boats was very greatly admired, as 
well as the precision of the salutes, considering the 
fact that few — -if indeed any — amongst the crew had 
ever received the advantage of instruction or any sort 
of training as seamen gunners. 

Besides these energetic Volunteers for naval pur- 
poses, a battalion of infantry and a squadron of 
cavalry were raised for land service, under the title 
of the " Koyal Cinque Port Fencibles." These were 
composed entirely of Volunteers, and numbered in 
their ranks members of some of the best families of 
East Kent ; nor must it be forgotten that William 
Pitt himself was enrolled as a private of the infantry 
division. In connection with this latter fact, an 
interesting anecdote is related to the eflfect that, 
during the Lord Wardenship of the late Duke of 
Wellington, two young gentlemen, who were among 
the visitors at Walmer Castle, one wet day discovered, 
in some old lumber they were amusing themselves by 
closely examining in one of the bastions of the old 
castle, a small regimental tin canteen which had formed 
* See Appeiiflix No. 12. 


part of the '' kit " of a j)rivate in the infantry divisioi* 
of the ' Eoyal Cinque Port Fencibles," and on looking; 
closer they found engraved on it the name of the- 
former owner, "private William Pitt." They at 
once carried this interesting relic to the Duke, who 
ordered it to he carefully preserved in the castle, 
where, I helieve, it yet remains. 

Happily, however, for this country the services of 
these gallant patriots were never required on either 
sea or land, for the long threatened " invasion " of 
our shores was, after vast preparations and much 
gasconading, at length abandoned by the arch-disturber 
of the peace of the world ; that is, if it was ever really 
seriously contemplated at all — a question still open to- 
some considerable doubt. 

Harbours for the Dotms. 

The idea of forming a Harbour opening on to the 
Downs from the coast, appears to have been originated 
so far back as the year 1705, when certain Commis- 
sioners were appointed to survey and report on the 
possibility of the scheme. This they appear to have 
done, and to have made a very favourable report on 
the possibility of forming a large harbour to the north 
of the town of Deal, just beyond 8andown Castle, and 
amongst the sandhills there ; but, from some cause oi- 
other not explained, nothing more was ever done, and' 
the proposal, though undoubtedly excellent in itself, 
seems to have been given up, perhaps from want of 
funds to carry out a scheme in itself necessarily- 
very costly. 


Thirty-one years afterwards, however, in 1736, the 
subject was again mooted on petitions to the House of 
Commons from Deal and Sandwich, and another com- 
mission was appointed, when, after due surveys, an 
estimate was made amounting to £389,168, a very 
large sum for those days, hut still nothing was done. 
Meanwhile another petition, hacked, no doubt, by some 
very powerful interest — for in this country nothing 
can be done with governing bodies without that 
wondrous lever— was presented by the town of Eams- 
gate to the House of Commons, when, after the usual 
official fencing and delay, it was at length decided that 
a harbour should be constructed at Kamsgate instead of 
either Deal or Sandwich ; and this was accordingly 
done, as all the world knows, or ought to know, and 
the cost from first to last is said to have very consider- 
ably exceeded two millions ! It was predicted before 
the works were begun, that the building of a pier into 
the sea projecting from Eamsgate Cliffs would, by 
altering the set of the tides, seriously interfere with 
the course of the river Stour, silt up its mouth and so 
destroy the harbour and haven of Sandwich. Whether 
this is really so or not, one thing is quite certain, that, 
from some potent cause or other, Sandwich Haven is 
now but a shoal, and that it is only kept open by con- 
siderable labour and some cost, and that the trade of 
the town has very greatly suffered in consequence. 
Whether this unfortunate state of things is actually 
occasioned by the projection of the piers of Eamsgate 
harbour, or may be attributed to purely natural causes, 
is a question on which local opinions appear to differ 



Ill more recent times a remarkable suggestion was 
made by the late Sir Jolm Piennie, and that was to 
convert the Small Downs (see the Chart), lying between 
the shore and the bank called the " Brake," into a 
Harbour of Piefuge of over a thousand acres in extent ; 
but the proposition was given up for the extraordinary 
reason that the " Brake " is actually stated to move, it 
having advanced, in 45 years, 600 yards nearer to the 
shore ! At least, so it is said ; but it should be 
remembered that the " Brake " is not loose shifting 
sand like the Goodwins, but a mound of clay, nearly 
five miles long, with Hints and stones all over the top, 
a solid, massive, hill, in fact — a somewhat ponderous 
matter to " move " under any circumstances. What 
seems, however, far more probable is that sand may 
have been constantly accumulating in large quantities 
on the sides and top of the "Brake," occasioned by the 
set of the tides, and thus diminished the apparent space 
between the bank and the shore by 600 yards ; — hence 
the idea that the entire mound itself had actually 
moved that distance, a statement very difficult of bebcf. 

Tlie extraordinary proposals of Bush, and other 
practical engineers, for converting the Goodwins tleiu- 
selves into a Harbour of Eefuge will be found fully 
detailed in Chapters Y. and IX. 

An admirable scheme was propounded in ISHR by 
Mr. Cundy, a well-known civil engineer, which was to 
construct a Harbour to the north of Sandown ( aslle, 
with spacioas docks annexed, on the site of the now 
utterly useless Sandhills, and to connect it, l)y rail- 
way, with London, Deptfovd, AVoolwich, Chatham, 
Sheerncss, and Canterbury. A grand proposal, and 



iipjii ii i i ) \ \ ] 



well worthy of the most serious attention, for vessels 
■could enter these docks, discharge their cargoes direct 
into railway vans, which might be at once despatched 
to London, reaching that city probably in three or 
four hours, and thereby save the long and weary sail 
all round the Foreland and up the Thames, — a most 
important consideration when such commodities as the 
new season's "first teas " are to be^rs^ in the market. 
Unfortunately, however, this grand and compre- 
hensive scheme all fell through, and nothing was done, 
possibly on account of the prodigious outlay that such 
a vast scheme would involve. It is, however, not at 
all imjirobable that, at some future day, the value of 
this plan, in its national, as well as commercial, aspect, 
will be recognised, and the undertaking ultimately 
carried out by the intelligent determination of private 
energy and enterprise. 

Antiquities discovered in the Downs, and in the Gooduiii 


A singular and very interesting relic was brought to 
light in the year 1775 by a party of Ramsgate 
*' hovellers " whilst engaged in " sweeping " for anchors* 
lost in the Gull Stream. Their drags brought up a 
very heavy substance to the surface, which was found 
on examination to be a very old and curious brass gun, 
which competent authorities, after a careful inspection, 
pronounced to be of Portuguese manufacture of about 
the year 1370. It was what is commonly called a 
■" Chamber Gun," that is to say, a sort of breech-loader, 
* See Appendix Xo. 7. 

G 2 


in wliicli tlie chamber — not the gun — is loaded separ- 
ately, and then lifted into an open cutting in the breech, 
the barrel of the gun forming the tube to direct the 
course of the shot. — a practice which has been discon- 
tinued for centuries. The chamber in this specimen 
has been lost. 

The gun, which was of brass, measured, including 
the chamber, 5 feet 2 inches in length, and attached to 
this again was an iron handle 2 feet 8 inches long, for 
the purpose of turning the gun on its pivot, for it was 
evidently a wall or bulwark swivel piece, and carried a 
ball of about 2 or 3 pounds weight. Near the muzzle 
was embossed a shield of the arms of Portugal, below 
this is an armillary sphere, and below this in a shield 
are the initials C. F. K,, rudely designed, which have 
been thought to mean " Ferdinandus Castellae Rex,"^ 
as Ferdinand of Portugal claimed the sovereignty of 
Castile ; although they might be merely the initials 
of the master founder by whom the gun was originally 
cast. "When discovered it was partially encrusted with 
sand and sea shells, as represented in the drawing on 
the opposite page, which is taken from the ' Archae- 
ologia,' vol. V. (1779).* It has been conjectured that 
it was either probably lost about the time that John, 
Duke of Lancaster, asserted a claim to the Castilian 
dominions ; or, what is far more likely, that it might 
liave been on board one of those ships of the dreaded 
Spanish Armada which were sunk iu the Downs when 

* Tliis ^un was exhibited at Eamsgate in 1775 by the men who 
fdund it. I have entirely failed, after much careful inquiry, to 
ascertain what ultimately became of either this gun or of the doliuia referred to further on. 


the famous fleet was totally defeated in the last bitter 
struggle off the Goodwins in July, 1588 (see anfe, p. 65), 

A second and equally curious old chamher gun was 
also dredged up from the Goodwin Sands by some boat- 
men whilst "sweeping" for anchors in 1830. It is 
entirely of iron, having, like the last, an iron handle in 
the rear for traversing. The chamber, and the wedge 
which secured it, still remain in their places in the 
cavity at the breech, where they are set fast by rust 
and corrosion, which have also operated to nearly 
destroy both the shape and appearance of the gun. 
The probable date of the weapon is about the middle 
of the 14th century, for chamber guns of this de- 
scription were much used at that period. It is 4 feet 
4 inches long from muzzle to breech, the iron handle 
measuring 1 foot 11 inches, making the total length 
6 feet 3 inches. The circumference at the trunnions 
is 16 inches, and of the bore 3 inches. When first 
brought ashore it was sold for old iron to a marine 
store dealer at Deal, where it Avas afterwards very 
fortunately discovered, and secured for the Dover 
Museum, where it is nOw deposited. 

It is quite possible that, like the old gun first de- 
scribed, it may have been on board one of the vessels 
of the Armada which were sunk in the Downs when 
the fight ended in July, 1588. Or it might indeed have 
formed one of the armament of 30 guns carried by the 
' Unicorn,' commanded by the brother of Sir Andrew 
Barton, when that ship was sunk in the Downs, and 
tbe ' Lion,' Sir Andrew's own ship, surrendered to Sir 
Edward Howard, after a desperate and gallantly 
fought action, on the 2nd August, 1511 (see ante, p. 61j. 


Another very interesting relic was found in the- 
year 1860, by some fishermen whilst trawling at the 
" hack " — i.e., on the eastern side of the Sands — in the 
smack 'Vigilant' of Hull. The net, on being drawn 
up, was found to contain a weighty, odd-looking 
substance which turned out to be a very remarkable 
specimen of Eoman pottery, namely, a " dolium " of 
clay. It measured 5 feet 9 inches in circumference, and 
2 feet 6 inches in height, and is calculated to hold 10- 
gallons. It is round at the bottom and has two handles. 

When first brought up it presented a very curious 
appearance, being covered with sea-weed, oyster, and 
mussel shells, as well as with a deep and beautiful 
coating of corallines. The sea-weed was scraped ofi" by 
the fishermen, but portions still remain, particularly of 
the corallines, about the neck of the vessel. Some of 
the Eoman dolia, were of much greater dimensions 
Ihan this one, and Birch, in his 'Ancient Pottery,' 
speaks of them as high as two metres, and requiring two 
oxen to draw them. He mentions an ancient Eoman 
vase so large that a man required a ladder of twelve- 
steps to reach the month. The Eomans kept their 
v.ine stored in large " dolia " in their cellars, and from 
these the liquid was poured into the smaller amphora? 
which s(»metimes were shaped with a pointed base, pro- 
bably to fix them in the ground, to keep the wine cool, 
or else they rested in a supporting tripod of either wood 
or metal.* 

But perliaps one of the most extraordinary " finds "' 

■ • Tlic author has in his possession an ancient Egyptian amphora 
exactly .so shaped, i.e., terniinatin;j; in a sharp point. It is of hard 
< lay, and holds about three pints ; in height it measures just 12 inches^ 


ever fished up from the Goodwin Sands was a post chaise, 
wheels and all. How such an article could have got 
into the Downs is a mystery, unless, as is quite possible, 
it was a travelling carriage being conveyed to France, 
when the unfortunate ship carrying it was probably 
wrecked and sunk on the Sands. 

Two peculiarly interesting relics of the Eoman 
occupation of ancient Cantia were found in 1830, and 
although no.'; found actually in the Downs, may be 
referred to here, because they were discovered on the 
shore hounding the Downs, and close to Sandown 
Castle. They consisted of two fine amphorse, and 
were found to contain hundreds of Roman coins, some 
of silver and some of a peculiar combination of iron 
and copper. They appeared to belong to the reigns 
of all the Emperors, from Claudius, a.d. 43, to Honorius, 
AD. 410, who had reigned during the Eoman sway in 
Britain, and were possibly buried with some person 
of high rank, according to the usual custom of that 
age. Most of these valuable coins were ultimately 
recovered by Mr. Eoalf, of Sandwich, a distinguished 
antiquary and collector. 

Pritchard, the Kentish historian already quoted, re- 
ferring to this discovery, observes that " finding coins of 
so lute a date as the fourth century lead us to the con- 
clusion that it was from the shores of Deal that some 
part, if not all, of the Eoman army took their final 
departure from Britain, from its proximity to Belgia 
and Gaul : " a suggestion that in all probability is 
strictly correct, as this coast was the principal place, 
not only of debarkation, but of embarkation also for 
travellers proceeding to or from Gaul. 


Proverbs and Sayings relating to the Goodwins 
AND their Neighbourhood. 

" Let Mm set up shoi:) on Goochchi Sands" 

" This a piece of coniitry wit ; there being an 
equivoque in the word ' Goodwin,' which is a surname 
and also signifies gaining wealth," (Eay, p. 72.) Dr. 
Pegg adds some passages which help but little, chiefly 
from Somner (' Ports and Forts,' p. 21), who combats 
the current opinion that the Sands were caused by 
an inundation in 1097 (? '99), and proposes a later 
date. Mr. Hazlett explains the phrase as referring 
to " being shipwrecked," though it is somewhat 
difficult to see the connection. What is far more 
likely is that it is meant as a sort of sarcastic warning 
against indulging in foolish and impossible specula- 
tions, which can only end in failure and ruin. 

" Tenterden Steeple the cause of Goodwin Sands." 

" This proverb is used when an absurd and ridi- 
culous reason is given for anything in question, an 
account of the original whereof I find in one of 
Bishop Latimer's sermons." [Here follows the story 
already quoted,* of the wondrous old man who remem- 
bered so much.] " Thus far the Bishop " (Piay, p. 273). 
"From the old man's account we have the precise 
time of the beginning of this saying, viz., in Henry 
the Eighth's time, and also the precise time of the 

* See (tii.le, p. 26. 


emergence of these Sands ; whereby you may resolve 
Mr. Somner's doubts, and set Mr. Twyne, Mr. Lambarde, 
and others right in the matter.*' Here follows a 
quotation from Somner's ' Ports and Forts ' (p. 25), 
which refers the formation of the Sands to a supposed 
inundation in the time of Henry I. Hazlett quotes 
the proverb in the following form : — 

" Of many people it hath oftentimes been said. 
That Tenterden Steeple Sandwich Haven hath decayed.^' 

See Hazlett's ' English Proverbs,' p. 438 ; Lewis's 
* History of Tenet,' p. 9 ; Sir Edward Bering's Works, 
p. 130. 

" The petrifying waters of Tenterden Steeple, in 
Kent, for which it is no less famous than for being 
the cause of ' Goodwin Sands.' " (Dr. Plott's letter to 
Bishop Fell, 'Leland's Itinerary,' ii. p. 133.) 

" Tcike heed how ye huild on Goodwins Sands." 

This is another proverb much of the same meaning 
as " Look before you leap," clearly signifying that 
caution and foresight should be caretuUy employed 
before any enterprise of importance is undertaken. 
The danger of building a house on a foundation of 
sand has been already forcibly illustrated in a parable 
so well known and celebrated that reference to it here 
is scarcely necessary. 

" As great as the Devil and the Earl of Kent." 

This proverb is quoted by Swift in his 'Polite Con- 
Tersations,' in the dialogue between Lady Smart and 
Lady Answer well. It is possible that "the villainous 


character given by history to the celebrated Godwine,, 
Earl of Kent, in the time of Edward the Confessor, 
occasioned the proverb" (Scott's edition of Swift). 

" Deal, Dover, and Harwich 
TJie Devil gave his daughter in marriage; 
And, by a codicil to his ivill, 
He added Helviot and the Brill." 

This bit of rough and cutting satire may do equally 
well perhaps for many other seaports over and above 
those named. 

"Deal savages, Ccmterhury parrots, 
Dover sharks, and Sandunch carrots." 

This refers to gardening having been first used as a. 
regular trade at Sandwich. "Canterbury parrots"' 
may refer to the chattering and tale-bearing so 
common in small cities, and the very impolite and 
plain spoken allusions to Deal and Dover may have 
some reference to the odious practice of " wrecking " 
formerly carried on with such hearty gusto at both 

" Conscience was droivned in Sandwich Haven." 

A story is told of a woman wanting a "groat's 
worth" of mackerel, and applied to a fisherman wlio 
told her to take as muny as she would for lier groat. 
She took such an unconscionable quantity, '.hat, 
provoked by her unreasonable conduct, he called out, 
"Is that your conscience? Then I'll throw it in the 
sea ; " and he thereupon threw the money into the 
water accordingly, and took the fish away from the 
woman. Hence the above saying. 


" Tahe heed how ye sicare Godtvine's Oath." 

This is a saying suggested by the terrible retribu- 
tion tliat, at least according to the story, overtook 
Earl Godwine, when he solemnly swore at the King's^ 
table what was supposed at the time to be a false oath, 
and met his death accordingly. (See Appendix No. 4.)^ 




The term " Hoveller "—Obscurity of its derivation— First cstabli'^li- 
ment of a " Coast Guard " by Edward III.— Probable derivation 
of the name— The modern " Hoveller "—His work and duties- 
Care and skill exhibited on approaching a wreck in a storra — ■ 
Difficulties in returning — Scanty rewards — False charges often 
brought against Hovellers — True character — Smuggling pro- 
pensities of former days— Their great bravery and noble 

The Ancient " Hohiler" 

Although well known, perfectly nnderstootl, and in 
daily use in one part of the country, yet I venture to 
say tliat the above quaint-sounding title would be a 
meaningless term, " not undcrstanded of the people," 
anywhere away from its native coasts ; and I further 
venture to assert that a careful searcher in the learned 
folios of Johnson, Walker, or Nuttall will fail to find 
the noun substantive "hoveller," or the verb "to 
hovel " — as here understood— therein set forth, as pure 
English : and yet, to those who have been much about 
the coasts of East Kent, the words may be not 
altogether unfamiliar, though few may probably have 
taken the trouble to inquire the meaning of the term, 


far less its origin, although its etymology has puzzled 
more than one learned antiquary. 

The derivation of the term " hoveller," as applied to 
a boatman on these coasts, is certainly very obscure, 
and perhaps many will be inclined to say far too 
insignificant to take any trouble about. But several 
well read and most intelligent writers have entertained 
a different opinion, and have been at some pains to 
investigate the whole subject. Of these may be 
mentioned Philpot, in his ' Village Cantianum ; ' Davis, 
in his ' Perambulation of Kent ; ' Pritchard, in his 
' History of Deal ; ' and the Eev. Charles Lane, some- 
time Eector of Upper Deal. From the researches 
of these gentlemen, it would appear that, from an 
ancient record of the period, King Edward III. 
appointed certain " gentlemen," probably — though we 
are not told so — the Barons of the Cinque Ports,* who 
were to undertake to patrol and guard the east and 
south-east coasts of Kent, at that period the great 
highway into England, especially from France. These 
gentlemen were each to furnish from the County 
Hundreds lying on or near the coast, a stated number 
of " men-at-arms and hobilers " (" homines ad arma et 
hobilers "), and these were to form a day watch, called 
the " Warden " (" homines ad vigilans diem "), as well 
as a night watch (" vigiliae minutas "), so that the 
patrolling would thus be constantly kept up. This, in 
all probability, is the first mention of anything like the 
establishment of a " Coast Guard," although their object 
was, of course, not to catch smugglers, but to give timeljr 
warning of the approach of a real enemy to our shores. 
* See Appendix No. 13. 


Hasted says : " The hobelers were a kind of Light,- 
liorse who rode about the country from place to place 
at night to gain intelligence as to the landing of boats 
■or men .... The Swale once went round the Isle of 
Sheppey, as the Wanfcsum did round Thanet. A guard 
was set at the Isle of Grain at the entrance of the 
Swale in the time of Edward III. which was to con-'^ist 
of twelve men-at-arms and six hohihrs.'' 

The term " hobiler " is supposed to be derived fiom 
either the French word " hobil," a light quilted surcoat 
which was probably worn by these men over their 
defensive armour ; * or, what is still more likely, from 
the old English word " hobbier " (hobby) a small stout 
horse such as might have been ridden by the mounted 
division, which was thus expressly described to show 
that the force, to be raised and kept up, was to consist 
not only oifoot but of liorse as well. Indeed, mounted 
men must have been absolutely necessary in the 
absence of any sort of post, or regular system of 
communication, to give immediate notice of the approach 
of danger by riding with all speed from one beacon, or 
station, to another, and so place the entire district, or 
coast, in a state of alarm and preparation ; or, as 
quaintly expressed by Davis, an old Kentish writer, 
•• to runne from becon to Ijecon during the daye, to 
spreade the knowledge of the cominge of enemies, and 
to supply notice of the danger at hande." 

A third and certainly not very likely origin of the 
name is founded on the droll tradition that these men, 
ill order to be close to the scene of their duties along 

* Just as tlic " Jackmen" weie so cuHcmI fniiu iht-ir Icalher, bteel- 
I-latc'il "jacks." 


the coasts, lived in caves., or Lnrrovved in hovels partly 
sunk underground, and probably so placed expressly 
to escape observation by vessels at sea. Bat the second 
.suggestion is by far the most feasible ; — and that, as 
the services of these ancient mounted Coast Guards 
gradually became unnecessary, the name- still clung to 
these dwellers by the sea, and has, with the substitution 
of the " V " for the " b," descended to their sons — the 
" hovellers " of the present day. 

Having shown the origin of the term, and the duties 
of the ancient '• hobiler," we will now proceed to consider 
the work of the modern " hoveller " of the present 
day. Tho name, which is locally pronounced " huv'ler," 
has been made into the verb " to hovel," and the 
■occupation is always spoken of as " hovelling." 

The Modern " Ilovelhrr 

The whole fraternity seem to be confined almost ex- 
clusively to the towns and villages on the east coast 
of Kent, for the excellent reason that these towns and 
villages are situated, as will be seen by reference to 
the Chart, within sight of the Goodwins, the Long 
Sand, the Margate Sands, and others ; for it is round 
these Sands that the hovellers chiefly find their em- 
ployment. It is, indeed, a very well known fact that 
many more lives would be annually sacrificed, and ships 
probably lost on these difierent shoals, but for the 
watchful care, skill, and daring so constantly and un- 
flinchingly exhibited by the bjatmen of East Kent 
to whom the term " hovellers " is now so commonly 


As far as external appearances go, these men, 
especially in fine summer weather, would seem to be 
an idle, lazy set of fellows, who do nothing all day but 
"loaf about," smoking, drinking, and gossiping ; passing 
the time, apparently, pleasantly enough, as far as it 
goes, in the regular dolce far niente style of thorough 
useless idling, diversified by occasionally manning a 
capstan to haul up a returned boat, repainting their 
waterproofs, or overhauling their boat's sails, tackle, 
and gear. 

In justice to these men, however, it is but fair to ex- 
plain that, in the calm and soft days of summer — . 

" When glassy ocean husli'd, forgets to ruar. 
And trembling murmurs on the sandy shore " — 

there is little or nothing stirring in their peculiar line 
of business, for it must be remembered that they are 
neither fishermen, nor " pleasure " boatmen like those 
of Kamsgate and other watering places. No, — fair 
breezes and calm water have no charms for the Deal 
boatmen ; what is intense enjoyment to the landsman,, 
or the overworked visitor, just freed from the hot stufi'y 
town to take his short and eagerly anticipated holiday, 
to the hoveller means loss of time, and consec^uently 
loss of money. They may say with Shakesjjerc, readily 
enough : — - 

'War, war — no peace! — peace is to nic a war!"' 

that is to say, the war of the elements is to them the 
opportunity of gain ; and the greater and more terrible 
the storm, the greater and more likely their chances of 
a " good hovel," as the term goes to express a job that 


When, therefore, the wind changes and the weather 
begins to look '• dirty," then the hovellers begin to stir 
themselves ; for, be it remembered, that however idle 
they may outwardly appear, they are always on the 
alert, and their eyes are ever on the watch seaward. 
Not a ship passes up or down but is carefully scanned 
and noted ; nothing, in fact, escapes their ceaseless 
vigilance. They might, indeed, with much truth, 
assume the motto " Nunquam dormio." 

Repeated consultations are now held on the beach,, 
the Fitzroy barometers — several of which are erected 
for public use — are constantly referred to, and the 
horizon carefully swept by telescopes of all sizes, ages, 
and patterns, and the chances of a " job " on the Sands, 
or round to the " West-ard " (as the term is) are 
anxiously discussed ; eager eyes notice the deepening 
gloom and the rising gale, and when the storm fairly 
bursts in all its fury, when the breakers are rolling on 
the Sands and dashing with intense violence on the 
beach, then these brave fellows, fearing neither winds 
nor waves, quickly man one or other of their finely 
built luggers, rigged with a huge lug sail, and steer 
direct for the Goodwins, about the very last place that 
any one would willingly seek during the prevalence of 
a heavy gale ! 

Unfortunately, however, it often happens that on 
reaching the tSands, and beating about their neighbour- 
hood, these poor fellows will frequently return, after 
many hours of severe labour, extreme danger, and 
patient endurance, empty handed, having failed to 
meet with a vessel either in distress, or wanting a pilot 
or help of any kind. 



Bnt should an unlucky ship be driven on to the 
Sands, the moment her signals of distress are recog- 
nised, they are instantly responded to, not only by the 
hovellers, but by the life-boats ; in fact, it is often a 
race in the cause of humanity as to who shall reach the 
wreck first. It sometimes happens, however, that when 
a very strong gale is blowing from the east, or north 
east, and a very heavy sea running on the licach. it is 
utterly impossible to launch any craft at all, either 
lufifuers or life-boats. One of the finest boats on Deal 
beach, the ' Albion,' was lost in launching in a terrific 
gale of ^Yind, a few years e.^o. She had got an anchor 
and cable on board for a ship in the Downs, but in 
attempting to make a start, the boat was violently 
thrown aback, dashed upon the beach with such 
tremendous force that she was totally destroyed, her 
crew of twelve or fourteen men narrowly escaping death. 

It is in such weather that the enormous utility of the 
Kamsgate Harbour is so apparent, for here the powerful 
steam-tug 'Aid' is always lying with her steam up, 
night and day, so as to be in readiness, at any moment, 
to take the life-boat * Bradford ' in tow, when they 
both go forth, through the darkness of the night, on 
their noble mission of mercy, to help and to save, into 
the raging seas and rolling breakers where nothing but 
a life-boat could live for five minutes together. 

When at length the danger — first of launching the 
boat from the bench, and then of traversing the six 
miles of tempestuous sea lying between the shore and 
tlie Sands — is overcome, the real work, and by far the 
most dangerous part of the wliole proceeding, may be 
said to bo only just beginning, and that is the ap- 


proacliiiig the wreck and taking off the crew ; and here 
it is that the remarkable skill taught by long, practical, 
.and intelligent experience, exhibits itself in getting 
sufficiently near to take off the sufferers and yet to 
avoid a collision which would simply be certain and 
instant destruction to all on board the luoo-er. In- 
stances have been known where a lugger has been so 
skilfully steered through the fierce boiling surf that 
she has actually run alongside a wreck sufficiently close 
for the men on board to jump into her as she rushed l)y 
— a dangerous and most ticklish proceeding for all 
parties concerned, both savers and saved. 

The following extract from Chamberss Journal 
•details with much truth the tactics now adopted : — 

" When the danger is very great and the sea very 
high, the sail of the boat is lowered and the anehin- 
dropped considerably to windward of the labouring ship. 
"With consummate judgment and caution, only gained 
by very long experience, the cable is then paid out 
yard by yard and the heavy rolling sea is allowed to 
carry the boat little by little towards the vessel till she 
is almost alongside. And now not a second is to be 
lost, and those of the ship's crew who are able to do 
so instantly leap into the boat ; for if another wave 
catches her in this position she must be dashed to 
pieces. Then indeed is a moment of intense anxiety 
and peril, and all hands haul upon the cable with might 
and main for dear life until the boat gradually draws 
away from the wreck. If, however, all are not rescued 
in the first attempt, the same perilous manoeuvre has to 
be played perhaps several times in succession. Coolly 
and cautiously the hovellers handle their boat ; the cable 

H 2 


is again veered out, and again she runs alongside the 
■wreck, until at length the dangerous game is re- 
warded and all the crew have been at last got on board. 
Tlaen all hands again haul in the cable, and the boat 
with the rescued crew ultimately drifts clear of the 
wreck." * 

But now comes another desperate struggle, with 
tempest above and sea below, in the homeward voyage 
of the now perhaps overcrowded hoveller's boat. Six 
or seven dreary anxious miles have still to be traversed 
ere the shore is at last reached, and when the boat 
approaches the beach the greatest care and caution 
are still necessary to prevent any untoward accident 
happening ; for it is often a dangerous and risky thing 
to beach an overcrowded boat when a very heavy sea is 
running. When at last, by God's providence, all are 
safely landed, every care is bestowed on the ship- 
wrecked crew ; food, clothing, and shelter being readily 
provided at the Sailors' Home where there is one, or by 
the kind and warm-hearted inhabitants where there is 
not, until the usual arrangements can be made with 
the proper authorities for forwarding the men to 
London or elsewhere. 

Nothing can exceed the cool unflinching bravery of 
the hovellcrs as a rule. An instance of a hoveller hesi- 
tating for a moment when there is a chance of saving 
life has, we believe, never been known. The howling 
storm and the raging sea seem to have no terrors 
whatever for these brave fellows; in fact, rather the 
contrary — the greater the storm the more ready and 
^Mlllug they always are to face it. They are in truth 
* Chcviibers^ Journal 187i.'. 


not only a tliorouglily fearless, but in many ways a 
most eminently useful set of men. Tiiey are cod- 
stantly cruising round the Sands and down to the 
West'ard, giving information to ships, taking off pilots, 
and bringing home friends or letters from outward bound 
ships, taking out anchors or cables to ships needing 
such articles, or saving shipwrecked cargoes, for which 
salvage money is allowed. This latter, or any reward 
that may be gained for these services, is generally 
divided into fourteen shares ; the boat takes three and a 
half shares for her owners, one half share is allowed for 
provisions which are supplied by the owners, and one 
share is given to each of the men — and little enough 
too, except in the case of a specially good " hovel," when 
a valuable ship or cargo may have been saved by the 
exertions of these men. An instance of this occurred 
a few years ago, when the crew of a Broadstairs lugger 
received £350 for bringing into Eamsgate an aban- 
doned ship, which had stranded on the Sands but after- 
wards floated off, her crew having previously escaped ; 
but these chances are few and far between, and the 
hoveller's energetic efforts, as already stated, only too 
often end in nothing. 

Whenever opportunity allows, these men are generally 
excellent fishermen, and, as the wives frequently carry 
on some small trade or business on shore by keeping 
shops, or doing work of different kinds, the men and their 
families sometimes manage to live fairly well, as things 
go in the present day ; — though, I regret to say, the 
reverse of this is only too often the case. 

The hovellers, like most others in this world, have 
not escaped their share of unjust and undeserved abuse 


and slander. The celebrated writer Daniel De Foe could 
not even let them alone, but, in his account of the " Great 
Storm of 1703," in about thirty wretched doggerel lines,, 
supposed to be poetry, he libels the Deal-men in the 
grossest and foulest possible manner, charging theoi with 
visiting wrecks for the express purpose of saving what- 
ever valuables thev could for their own use, but leavincr 
the crews to drown or perish ! A more abominable 
and cruel falsehood it is impossible to conceive, for any- 
body w^ho knows anything of the peculiar feelings of a 
Deal hoveller is well aware that his first thought, in all 
his daring and desperate expeditions to the Sands, is to 
save life and not property. When the crew of a wreck 
have all been safely landed, then, and not till then, does 
he think of rescuing what property he can, for which 
he wall merely get his regular salvage allowance, often 
wholly inadequate, when the danger of the service is- 
remembered. De Foe evidently knew nothing of the 
liovellers, but possibly Avrote without investigation 
just what some spiteful enemy might have dictated 
to him. 

It has also been stated more than once that the- 
liovellers, the pilots, and even captains of ships, some- 
times come to an understanding amongst themselves 
as to the award given to a boat's crew for bringing out 
an anclior and eliain, through a heavy sea, to supply 
the place of one just previously " lost " by a ship wliilst 
riding out a storm in the Downs ; and it has even been 
darkly hinted that anchors and cables have occasionally 
been imrposelji slipped and lost, simply to secure a 
share in the award given for l)ringing off a new one. 
]^>ut, after all, as this is only talk, some real and sub- 


stantial proof sliould be reqiiTrecl before tlie story is, 
for a single moment, believed.* 

Besides such slanders as these, the hovellers have 
frequently been charged with the vice of inveterate 
drunkenness, to which, it is said, the whole body are 
recklessly given up. But, from personal knowledge 
and much close observation during frequent visits in 
the neighbourhood, I am prepared to state that this is 
a most unjust and unfounded accusation. It is not for 
a moment pretended that they are all teetotallers — 
what seafaring race ever were ? Or that intemperance 
is never seen among them : drinking, in fact, does go on, 
as a matter of course, sometimes perhaps more freely 
than it ought to do, for the hovellers are not angels any 
more than their neighbours. But to assert that they 
are all addicted to drink, and given up to the vices and 
miseries that follow in its train, is to assert a vile calumny 
entirely devoid of truth. It is scarcely a matter of 
wonder that these men, who are accustomed to lead a 
hard laljorious life, often exposed to winds and waves, 
snow and rain, in an open boat, without deck or shelter, 
f(jr hour-: together, when they come ashore with, 
perhaps, every stitch upon them wet through, and half 
frozen besides, should straightway indulge in that 
genuine sailor's comfort, a little grog ; and who would 
Idame them ? Not I. So long as it is kept within 
reasonable and proper bounds and all excess avoided, no 
one, in reason, can possibly object. Taking the whole 
body all round, the hovellers are as honest, hard-working, 

* An iiit'!rostin;j; .article appeared on this sul'joct in tlie Daily 
Tclc'iraph, Maicli orJ, ISdl, from the pen oi' a v.'eil-kno\vu nautical 


■well-conducted, and respectable a set of men as are to 
be found anywhere round our coasts, and their heroic 
courage, in moments of appalling danger, shows them to 
be thorough " men of Kent " of the true old stock who, 
centuries ago, claimed " Invicta " for their motto. 

It is, however, freely admitted that the hovellers were, 
formerly at least, the most inveterate of smugglers, if 
that can be considered a very serious blemish on their 
character, which, though I say it with great submission, 
I certainly do not, and for a very plain reason, namely — 
this class of simple half-educated men, who have not 
gone very deeply into the theories of Adam Smith or 
John Stnart Mill, or made iiscal questions their special 
study, can never be brought to understand how or why, 
having fairly and honestly bought and ^jai(i for goods 
in a foreign country, they are breaking any law, or 
committing any serious ofl'ence, in landing and selling 
their lawfully purchased property, because they have 
not paid a peculiarly obnoxious, and, to them, utterly 
unreasonable tax demanded by the Customs laws of 
Great Britain. This opinion, or feeling, has been 
repeatedly expressed to the writer, followed by the 
remark, " Had I stolen the goods, I must abide the 
consei^uencco ; but, having bought and paid for them, I 
don't see there is any crime in trying honestly to sell 
thom again at a small profit," On pointing out to the 
speaker that it is considered by the Inland liovenue 
Commissioners a serious crime to evade the import duty 
establi-ihed by the laws of our country, and that, more- 
over, in wealth-worshipping England ofiences against 
proprrfij are tliought far more of than brutal crimes 
against the person, he frankly stated " he could not see 


it," and refused altogether to admit my argument ; and 
therefore findiug I could produce no impression, and 
that it was impossible to convince him, I accordingly 
gave it up. Nor was this man, by any means, a soli- 
tary instance, for I have heard the same sentiment 
expressed over and over again in many different parts 
of the coast both south and east,* 

During the early part of the present century a brisk 
trade was carried on in smuggling all along the east 
and south coasts, and many thousands of cargoes of 
silks, lace, or " tubs " have been " run " at convenient 
seasons on the shore between the North and South 
Foreland, good profits being the general result. We 
can all now afford to smile at the tales of wild daring 
and adventure told of this most excusable of all so- 
called " crimes," of which we find so plentiful a supply 
always ready to be retailed to wondering ears, or 
gaping listeners, at all sea-side places, because there is 
little or nothing of it now going on, from the fact that 
the " Coast Guard," as administered by nuval officers 
under the Admiralty, since the year 1840, is far too 
intelligent, energetic, and watchful, both on sea or 
shore ; a very diff'erent affair indeed to the old " Pre- 
ventive Service " as formerly carried out by the Board of 
Customs, and which often proved worse than useless, f 

One fact, however, must be insisted on, and that is, 
that if the hoveller was, in his day, an inveterate 
smuggler, he was not one whit worse than his 
neighbours in the adjoining counties, who merely 

* See Appendix No. 14. 

t See Chambers' Journal for 1882 for an entertaining accoui t 
of smuggler's ingenuity. Article " Ingenious Suiugi^lers.' 


followed the practices and instincts of their fathers 
before them. At any rate, if the modern hoveller 
possesses a few of the faults common to men of his 
station and profession, he certainly possesses, in an 
eminent de^i^ree, the virtue of patient endurance, and 
genuine humanity, coupled with the most unflinching 
and undaunted courage, where life is to be saved,, 
however terrible the odds ; for he will be as anxious for 
a place in the boat as if the race was to save, instead 
of to risk, his own life. Mr. Clilmore's w^ords, referring 
to the life-boat men, are peculiarly applicable to the 
hovellers : " I claim a place for these men amidst the 
records of the bravest, grandest deeds of heroism of 
the age;" and the Count de Melford, quoted by the 
Eev. M. Walcott, pays them an equally graceful 
and equally truthful compliment, when he says : " Is- 
there in this world anything grander than such 
intrepidity? A king in all his pomp and power,, 
opening his assembled Parliament ; a conqiieror 
marching at the head of his army, preceded by his 
prisoners— are these comparable? Are these morally 
great, like these simple sailors? These who brave 
peril, fatigue, suffering, death itself— -death of the 
most terrible kind — in order to save men who are utter 
strangers to them ! " A compliment the perfect truth 
of which few, wh(» really know the hnvcllcrs, will be 
incdined to deny. 

I'hc Hev. Charles Lane, too, somctimo l^ector of 
Upptr Deal, who knew the race well, adds his ready 
and willing testimony to their undoubted courage : 
'• Shall we rK)t regard them .... as the children of 
the gallant men of Kent, l)y whoiu, in bygone days,. 


the Saxon flag was ever borne, as their customary 
privilege, on the battle-field ; and who, now that their 
arm is no longer needed to resist the invader, still 
rival their forefathers' deeds in being foremost to do 
btittle with the wind and the storm, and in bearing the 
brave old flag triumphant on the wave." 

A speech of one of these gallant fellows made to the 
Eev. John Gilmore deserves to be here quoted as 
a fitting close to this chapter : — 

" We have hard work before us, and we determine, 
by God's help, to do it, and we won't flinch. We hope 
to save others, and we feel that we shall do our best 
to do so ; but, at the same time, we know that we may 
lose our own lives in making the attempt. We think 
of this sometimes as we are sitting in the boat, holding 
on against the wash of the seas, but when we once get 
to the wreck we forget all about ourselves, and only 
think how to save others ! " A grand unselfish senti- 
ment, and one, in its j^erfect truth, so peculiarly 
applicable to the Kentish hovellers. 




Great loss of life annually on the Sands — Difficulty of fixing a light 
or beacon — Great necessity of some kind of a *' Warning 
Beacon" — First step taken by 'J'rinity House end of 17th 
century — Impossibility of building on the Sands — Attempt 
given up — First lightship established in 1795— Two first 
"Warning Beacons" erected — Bush's suggested beacon — 
Admiral Bullock's first beacon, 1840 — Simplicity of design — 
Dimensions — Run down in 1844 — Re-erected same year — 
Disappeared in 1847 — Bush's Lighthouse Beacon, 1841 — Con- 
struction — Floating of the great caisson — Cast adrift and 
sunk — Raised — Rebuilt — Towed out to Sands in July, 1842 — 
Run down in October, 1842 — Again rebuilt in 1844 — Descrip- 
tion — "Living and sleeping" on the Goodwins — Faulty posi- 
tion of beacon — Site chosen by the Admiralty, not by Mr. Bush 
— Structure ultimately removed — Steward's Beacon, 1843 — 
Failure — Walker's First Beacon, 1844 — Removed 1850 — 
AValker's Second Beacon, 1847 — Washed away in two months — 
Trinity House Beacon, 1849 — Stood for thirty years — Dis- 
appeared in 1879 — The last of the Beacons. 

Jlaoi/s. — Goodwin Buoys — Herbert's Patent Buoy — Immense 
one placed at South Sand Head — Courtney's Automatic or 
" Whistling" Buoy — Idea not new — Luminous Paint Buoys — 
Experiments — Run down in Harwich Harbour — Pintsch's Gas 
Buoj- — Bells on Buoys — Legend of the Inch Cn' ,• Bell — The 
Bell Rock— Bells on Lighthouses — The new Eddystoue. 


It is certainly somewhat surprising that on a sj^ot 
which, on the one hand, has ahyays been found so 
useful as an anchorage ground, or harbour of refuge, 


yet, on the other, for centuries, has been celebrated for 
its many and great dangers, no attempt appears to 
have been made, until comparatively modern times, to 
erect anything in any way to "warn mariners of the 
presence and position of the Goodwin Sands. A 
modern writer observes with great truth : " On the 
entire coast of England there is probably no other 
locality so fatally connected with dismal stories of 
human suffering ; and yet it was long found impossible 
to warn the sailor from it by any certain agency. 
Lighthouses could not be built on its shifting sands ; 
and it seemed as if this one wild waste must, of a 
necessity, be abandoned to the pitiless winds, and not 
more compassionate seas. . . . The great loss of life 
annually occurring on our eastern coasts is universally 
known ; and the Goodwin Sands in particular, being 
situated at the very portal through which passes the 
most active commerce in the world, are the scene of 
the most frequent and most fatal shipwrecks. There 
is no other spot, perhaps, on the face of the earth so 
well known lor its dangers, and so much dreaded by 
seamen. Nor are its terrors diminished by popular 
opinion ; on the contrary, it is commonly believed that 
the Goodwin Sands swallow up and engulf irrecoverably 
whatever is thrown upon them."* 

This is perfectly true, and matters continued in this 
most unsatisfactory state until the latter end of the 
seventeenth century, when the Trinity House took the 
first step in the right direction, and determined- — if at 
all possible — to erect a light, or beacon, of some kind 
or other, on the Goodwin Sands ; and accordingly 
* Davenport Adams. 


directed a careful survey to be made by several persons 
wbo were supposed to possess great experience in such 
questions, as well as in the art of construction — for there 
were no professional " engineers " in those days— and 
these persons were at once employed to attempt the 
possibility of such an erection; but after penetrating 
with their boring tools to a considerable depth, the 
suction was so great that they became convinced that 
the same spongy, glutinous material continued as far as 
they could reach, and they therefore reluctantly came 
to the conclusion that, as no firm bottom was • dis- 
covered on which a foundation could be laid, such a 
structure as a beacon, or a lighthouse, was altogether im- 
practicable, and the attempt was abandoned in despair. 
As anything in the shape of a solid erection was, 
apparently, impossible for want of a firm resting-place, 
all further action seems to have been given up by the 
Trinity House, and the question of placing a beacon, or 
light, on the Goodwin Sands was suffered to rest by 
that Corporation for nearly one hundred years, that is 
until 17i)5, when the first Lightship was established 
on those shoals as detailed in Cliapter VI., page 157. 

The first idea of a " AV'arning Beacon " — that is to 
say, a visible erection to " warn " mariners of the 
presence of any dangerous rock or sandbank — appears 
to have T)een a flag-pole, or mast, having a bali, or a 
cask, stuck on the top, fixed into an old hulk filled 
with stones, which was sunk at the required spot. To 
keep this pole or mast more firmly in position stays 
were afterwards added ; l)ut still the plan failed, when 
the idea was ado])ted of stepping the pole in the centre 
i)f two ci't)ss timbers laid down in the form of a letter 


X. So far so good. But the next best suggestion was 
to construct a beacon so as to save life, by erecting a 
" staging," or, as a sailor would say, a " top," resting 
on the mast or jDole, so that if any men of a ship- 
wrecked crew were able to reach a beacon so con- 
structed, they could climb into the top, and thereby 
save their lives until help arrived. This was the most 
perfect style of " Warning " or " Safety " beacon ever 
suggested, though who was the real originator of the 
idea does not seem to be known. It was, however, 
afterwards adopted, first by Mr. Bush, C.E. (who was 
most probably the inventor), and afterwards by Admiral 
(then Captain) Bullock, as will be found fully detailed 
further on. 

The first beacon ever seen on the Goodwin Sands 
was placed there very many years ago by the Trinity 
House, when, by their direction, a "Warning Beacon" 
was fixed in the Swatchway, on the eastern side of the 
Sand. This was constructed on the old plan just 
referred to, of sinking a vessel filled with stones, 
carrying a flag-pole with a ball at the top. This 
having at length been washed away, another beacon on 
the same plan, but on a larger scale, was placed on the 
easternmost projection of the Goodwin Saucls, leading 
into Trinity Bay. This consisted of an old ship 
having a tall mast with a ball on the top, the mast 
being secured by chain guys to her stem and stern 
j)osts. She was towed out by the ' Vestal,' a Trinity 
House steamer, in charge of a committee of that 
Corporation, on the 24:th May, 1841, and then scuttled 
and sunk ne^r the edge of the dry sand at low water, 
on the south side of the Swatch. Sixty-four tons of 


ballast were jout into her, and she was filled np to her 
deck beams. But, notwithstanding ail this care and 
preparation, and the apparent solidity of the whole 
structure, this beacon, like the last, was destroyed or 
washed away, in 1843, as notified by the short, but 
pithy and significant Trinity House formula usually 
employed to record such mishaps, that the beacon had 
simply " disappeared ! " 

Ilr. Bush's suggested Beacon. 

Before the date above mentioned — that is to say, in 
the year 1836 -Mr. William Bush, C.E., of Deptford, 
submitted a plan and model to the Trinity House of a 
beacon which he proposed to erect on the Sands, or 
elsewhere if required, of which a sketch is given on the 
opposite page. This was to consist of lengths of iron 
tubing having their flanged ends riveted together, and 
so forming a tall mast. This was stepped in cross 
pieces of the same material, secured by chain shrouds 
and fitted with a couple of " tops " one above another, 
which were reached by means of ladders, and were 
evidently intended as " refuges " for any one who could 
climb into them. The weight was estimated at about 
12 tons ; it could be floated to its destination without 
trouble, and the cost was stated as not exceeding £3U0. 

This design, though clearly practicable, was never 
carried out — at least on the Goodwins it never was — 
and Avhether or not this plan of Bush's suggested to 
Ca])taiu Bullock his own ingenious llefuge Beacon it is 
not perhaps worth while now to inquire. It is quite 
certain, however, that there was a very considerable 

bush's proposed beacon. 


resemblance between the two ; and that Bush's design 
was exhibited in 1836, four years before Captain 
Bullock's. Bullock, with the sagacity of a sailor, sub- 
stituted an oak mast stepped in a stout oak plat- 
form for the elaborate iron tubincj of Bush, and 
having but one " top " instead of two. But otherwise 
the general features were much the same, as will be seen 
at once by reference to the sketches of the two beacons. 

Captain Bullock's Beacons, 18i0-1844. 

It was in the autumn of 1840 that Captain Bullock 
succeeded in erecting his first Eefuge Beacon on the 
Goodwin Sands ; and even supposing that this simple 
contrivance may be ultimately eclipsed by more durable 
or elaborate inventions, there can be no doubt whatever 
that the honour of having led the way to the erection 
of these useful structures is entirely due to the energy 
and resolution of this gentleman, who was, at the period 
wdien the beacon was put up. Captain of Her Majesty's 
steamer ' Boxer.' One thing is quite clear, and that 
is, that if the design of this beacon is remarkable for 
its simplicity, it is only one of many 2^roofs afibrded by 
the history of inventions that the simplest means is 
often the verv last arrived at. 

The means employed by Captain Bullock, although 
simple, proved in the end to be thoroughly effective iu 
every way. His design was a mast of timber carrying 
a gallery or " top " on its summit, having above this a 
tail fiagstaff on which a signal flag could be displayed. 
The entire structure is thus graphically described by 
Bullock himself:— "The mast, 40 feet high and 13 



inches in diameter, is sunk in tlie sand through a strong 
frame of oak, in form of a cross firmly secured by four 
long bars of iron, and laden with several tons of ballast, 
chalk, (tc. The mast is also sustained by 8 chain 
shrourls in pairs, and attached to iron piles 17 feet long, 
which are driven down close into the sand, and are 
backed by mushroom anchors to prevent them coming 
home towards the mast. On the shaft or mast is fitted 
a gallery capable of holding 30 or 40 persons, and 
never less than 16 feet above high-water mark. 

•' The mast also carries a light top-mast, on which a 
blue flag (always at hand) can be hoisted as a signal 
when aid is required from shore, but which is kept 
struck or down to give the whole the appearance of a 
wreck, thus answering the double purpose of a beacon 
or warning, and a place of refuge. Directions are given, 
.and the words 'Hoist the flag,' in eight languages, 
placed round the interior of the top ; and bread, water, 
and a small supply of spirits are left on the beacon 
properly protected from the weather. To the beacon 
is also appended a chain ladder of easy ascent, as well 
as cleats on the mast, and a large basket chair is also 
kept in readiness with ropes and blocks to succour the 
exhausted. The sides of the gallery are fitted with 
sail clotli reefed all round it, which could be unrolled 
and made fast to the flagstafl" if requiied, the object 
being to protect with a temporary shelter any ship- 
wrecked sailors who might have reached the gallery. 
Blue was fixed ui)on for the colour of the flag, as being 
supposed to be visible at a great distance. 

" As the Goodwin Sands are partly dry at low water 
to a great extent, and as vessels which strike on them 








^ E>* 











seldom go to pieces in a single tide, the proLability is 
that some of the wrecked crew would be enabled to 
reach the sand during the interval, and the safety 
beacon would then become their only refuge. It is 
well known that numbers of persons, having escaped 
from wrecks and gained the Sands in safety at low 
water, have been swept off by the returning tide before 
help could reach them ; but had there been some kind 
of a refuge, they might possibly have been able to reach 
it, and thereby save their lives, and by hoisting the 
flag make signal to the shore for further assistance." * 
Captain Bullock then gives the elevation and plan of 
the " Beacon " as seen on the opposite page, with the 
dimensions as follows : — 

Feet. Inches. 

Length of mast 40 — 

Masthead 6 — 

Sunk in sand 6 — 

From sand-level to top 30 — 

Topmast 15 — 

Total to truck on topmast 45 — 

Diameter of mast — 13 

Diameter of octagon top 9 — 

Eails, high ..*....... 3 -^ 

" Elevation. 

" The whole is supported by four pair of chain shrouds, 
leading to 8 iron stumps or piles (at SS) from 14 to 17 
feet in the sand. Iron bars, 2 inches square (r), 4 of 
them to secure partners, and iron ballast with bags of 
shingle intended to be placed on top of all. Heel of 
mast in sand (h) shod with iron. 

* Captain Bullock's Eeport. 

I 2 


" Ground Plan. 

'' Ofilv partners {pp) 10 feet long, 1 foot wide, and & 
inches tliick. rr, 4 iron bars to secure partners, -with 
21 pigs of ballast ^Yeig•hing 3 tons 12 cwt. ss, 8 iron 
bars, 2 inches square, from 14 feet to 17 feet in sand.. 
hh, 4 iron bars "vvith span at each end to fix to ss and 
end of partners to prevent ss coming home. Distance 
from ss across to opposite ss, 60 feet, mm, 4 mushroom 
anchors." * 

Captain Bullock concludes his description with the- 
following most sensible and truthful remarks : — " If it 
be objected to that there is nothing in the mode of con- 
struction which holds out a promise of perpetuity, the 
answer is that it can be replaced at a trifling expense ;. 
and still further that it has actually withstood the 
storms of two winters (1840-11), one of them, the 
severest on record, for a long period. It is the first 
which has so far succeeded, a fact which alone entitles 
it to a favourable consideration. So long as it. stands 
it holds out a chance to the shipwrecked, and if it falls 
it can easily be renewed ; — at all events it has passed 
through severe trials, and exhibits at least a highly 
interesting experiment. If, in the course of time, as- 
may be expected, it happily proves the means of saving 
life, it will then attract the attention due to it, and 
the example here set will be followed in all the great 
estuaries of the United Kingdom, and the numerous 
sand-banks round our shores will each have its Eefuge." 

Every one must warmly admire the singular and 

* L'apUiiu liuUock's Kepoit. 


ilionglitiul ingenuity — so thoroiiglily characteristic of a 
■sailor — exhibited throughout the whole of this erection, 
vchich was altogether unique in its way when it is 
remembered that this beacon served the double purpose 
of a warning of immediate danger, as well as a refuge 
for such as micjht be fortunate enough to cain its 
friendly and useful shelter. 

Thi*i, the first " Eefuge Beacon," was erected on 
Thursday, the lOth of September, 1840, under the 
personal direction of Captain Bullock, assisted by 
Captain Boys, Superintendent of the Eoyal Naval 
:Store Yard at Deal,* and in the presence of a 
number of friends and visitors from Kamsgate, Dover, 
.and Deal. 

When all was completed and the mast fixed, the first 
person to go "aloft" — that is, to climb up into the 
gallery or " top " — was Lieutenant Gr. C. Boys. E.N., 
who, on reaching the summit, hoisted a " Union Jack " 
handkerchief which he happened to have in his pocket, 
.and called for three hearty cheers for Captain Bullock, 
and Her Majesty the Queen. The indefatigable exer- 
tions of Captains Bullock and Boys, with Lieutenants 
Boys, Gull, and Bowes of the Eoyal Navy, and other 
■officers and men engaged in this noble and philanthropic 
undertaking erected in the interests and for the benefit 
■of humanity, were deserving of the warmest and highest 
praise, not only for the perseverance, courage, and 
determination evinced throughout, but for the dis- 
interested self-sacrifice so often exhibited in many ways, 
not the least having been that tliese earnest workers 

* This establishment has long- since been given up, and the hite 
is now built over. See ante, p. 49. " The Downs." 


have frequently been compelled to carry on their 
operations, for several hours at a time, up to their knees 
in water and mud when the tide was rising. 

The erection of this beacon — the first of its kind — 
may have been considered in the light of an experiment 
to demonstrate the problem whether or not human in- 
genuity and skill could overcome the many difficulties 
presented by the formidable Goodwins by small means 
and simple contrivances, or whether nothing will avail 
but vast erections of massive materials at almost 
fabulous cost. It has, however, been amply proved, by 
subsequent events, that simple contrivances are really 
the best ; for this ingenious work of Bullock's bravely 
withstood the storms and tempests, the winds and waves 
of the Goodwin Sands for just four years, and was a 
complete success in every way, carrying out its purpose 
as a safety beacon, until the 6th of August, 1844, when 
it was seriously injured — run down, in fact — by the 
reprehensible carelessness of a Dutch galliot sailing up 
Channel.* This most untoward accident necessitated 
the entire re-erection of the work, which was accordingly 
again undertaken by Captain Bullock with such energy 
that it was completed by the end of September of the 
same yeav, 1844. This, the second, beacon was fixed 
on the same general principles as the first, but with an 
improvement in its base which, in the new erection, 
was composed of iron instead of wood, which con- 
sequently penetrated further into the sand than the 
former ; and it was hoped that it would last for years 
to come. The foundation w as covered with between 50 
and GO tons of concrete blocks, chalk, and shingle, 
* See Appendix No. 15. 


similar to that which was employed for the first beacon 
in 1840. 

During the operation of setting up the new beacon 
observations were specially directed, with much curiosity 
and interest, to the state of the foundations of the 
original erection, which were found to have remained 
during the four years unmoved and unabsorbed, a fact 
which leads to the opinion that the tide, strong as it is 
on this spot, had had no visible effect upon this mass, 
except, apparently, to cause a great accumulation of 
sand round the spot, plainly illustrating the truth of 
Captain Vetch's ingenious theory for the reclaiming of 
the Goodwin Sands (referred to in Chapter IX.), that, 
by the operation of the tides and the sea, the sand 
would be continually accumulated around and within 
any contrivance, or erection, built up for the express 
purpose of catching and retaining it. The only fear 
seemed to be that the terrific force of the sea, especially 
when a heavy gale was blowing from the south or 
south-west, would destroy and disperse the shingle 
which covered the heavy blocks of the lower foundation, 
but little doubt was entertained that these latter w'ould 
retain their position intact. It was therefore very 
gratifying to find that the foundations, instead of being 
injured, had actually been strengthened by the deposit 
of sand brought thither by the action of the w^aves. 

An eye-witness of the new erection says : " The tide, 
apparently so strong, has no visible effect upon the 
mass, round which the sand has accumulated nearly 
2 feet in height, and it now remains as the result of a 
most interesting and successful experiment. I have 
myself little fear for the heavy concrete blocks, which 


constitute the Imse of the cone. It is, however, but an 
experiment, and the problem will probably be demon- 
strated that human skill and ingenuity cannot overcome 
the formidable Goodwins with small means, and that 
man cannot successfully wage ' a little war ' with such 
a foe." 

The new beacon firmly stood its ground uninjured 
for a period of nearly three years, when, to the regret 
of every one interested in the question, the usual short, 
but painfully significant. Trinity House Notice told all 
whom it might concern that in December, 18-17, the 
beacon had disappeared ! 

Whether it was again " run down," or washed away 
by the overpowering winds and waves of a wintry gale, 
we shall, of course, never know. It is quite possible, 
however, that it may have been struck by a large piece 
of wreckage being driven against it. A heavy mass of 
broken timber lifted on the shoulders of a gigantic wave 
and hurled like an immense battering ram, with terrific 
force, Avith nothing whatever to check the full power of 
the blow, point blank upon the beacon, would make ])ut 
short work of that, or any similar structure, if exposed 
to such a fearful assault carrying with it such vast weight 
and momentum. An attack from such an assailant 
would be utterly irresistible in far larger and stronger 
erections than Captain Bullock's, or indeed any otlier 
such beacon. 

Mr. WiUlain linalis Firxf LitjJifJioiise Jinicoi, 1811. 

Perhaps one of the most remarkable of all the 
attempts to place a structure on tin- Goodwin Sands 


-VN-as made by Mr. William Bush, a very well-known 
civil engineer, in the autumn of 1841. The singular, 
hut most ingenious, erection designed by him, to serve 
the double purpose of a beacon and a lighthouse, was to 
be called by the somewhat fanciful name of the " Lioht 
for all Nations." We say " fanciful," for, after all, are 
not most lighthouses emphatically " lights for all 
nations : " Are they not intended to light the broad 
highway of the sea, and to protect from danger all 
mariners who may chance to sail within reach of their 
friendly rays, whoever those mariners may be, or to 
whatever nation they may happen to belong? 

Mr. Bush appears to have possessed a bold inventive 
genius of no common order, combined with ideas of 
almost unlimited vastness. The erection of the Liaht- 
house Beacon in question was only a small part of a really 
grand design, originally conceived by him so far back 
:as the year 1830, for the construction of a breakwater 
along the inner sand, so as to enclose Trinity Bay, and 
form it into a great Harbour of Piefuge ; and to carry 
•out this design he endeavoured to establish a company 
in 1843, as stated in Chapter IX. The erection of the 
lighthouse beacon, about to be described, was first 
attempted in 1841, possibly l)y way of experiment in 
order to test his patent " Caisson," and the Nortu 
Callipi'r Avas fixed upon as the spot on wdiich it was to 
stand. It is perhaps hardly fair to Mr. Bush to say 
that the experiment failed, as, in fact, the caisson was 
•destroyed more than once l)y unfortunate accidents 
hefore it was even half completed, as will be seen 
further on ; and probably tliis very reason induced 
]\Ir. Bush to endeavour to repeat the experiment on 


a much more extended scale, the funds required to be 
raised by a public company. As nothing, however, was 
ultimately done, the Caisson system — which was un- 
doubtedly sound in principle — can scarcely be said to 
have ever had a really fair trial, at least so far as the 
Goodwins were concerned. 

The design for the Lighthouse Beacon may be 
shortly described as follows : — A vast caisson of cast 
iron, somewhat conical in form, 30 feet in diameter at the 
base, was constructed of a series of plates with flanges 
at the joints three inches wide, and connected by half- 
inch wrought-iron bolts. Each tier of plates was 6 feet 
high, the lower tier 1^ inches thick, and the circum- 
ference was divided into 24 plates, as were also the 
courses above. Within the lower tier the working 
chamber was constructed, in which the process of 
excavation was to be carried on as in a diving-bell, and 
the sand which was dug out was discharged through a 
four-foot aperture, in the centre of its domed top, into 
the second chamber. The chamber above was fitted 
with air .pumps, and other apparatus for regulating the 
supply of air to the workmen in the working chamber 
below ; and from the second chamber arose a four-foot 
cylinder extending upwards thiough the centre of the 
caisson for the discharge of the sand. The height of 
the chamber above was to be regulated by the depth 
into the sand to which it might be necessary to proceed 
before the chalk was arrived at, the plates being added 
to the caisson as it gradually descended. By means of 
man-holes the two lower chambers communicated with 
each other as far as it was necessary for the supply of 
air to the workmen, and the discharge of the sand 


Mf^;.\. P&J^ 

Hci^hl tfSa^x^ 

AiCs^ "A^fcp 













.r, „ J 

J <! n W 



during the process of excavation which was carried on 
from within, similar to the sinking of the shaft, or the 
kibt, of a well, the lower chamber acting, in this respect, 
as a diving-bell, by which the work was carried on under 
water, and through the cylinder at stated periods, and 
when external communication was cut oft' from the lower 
chamber, the sand would be discharged into the sea. 

It was intended that when the caisson had reached a 
level bed, and the sand had all been excavated, that the 
interior was to have been filled up with solid masonry 
and concrete upon which foundation the Lighthouse 
was ultimately intended to have been erected. The 
section of the caisson is shown opposite. 

Such was Mr. Bush's design, bold and most original 
in itself, and perhaps the only plan by which anything 
like a hold could be obtained on the solid chalk, pro- 
vided the chalk could have been found at a reasonable 
depth below the loose shifting sand; but, unfor- 
tunately Sir J. H. Pelly's subsequent experiments 
showed that this really firm bottom was only found 
78 feet below the surface ! 

The first great caisson having been constructed at 
the Naval Yard, Deal, was launched on the 22nd 
October, 1841, and taken in tow by the 'Monkey' 
steam ve?sel ; but she managed somehow to run 
aground, when the caisson was cast adrift near 
Sandown Castle. Captain Washington, however, in the 
' Shearwater,' came to the rescue and towed the 
caisson to Deal pier,* where it sunk, and was after- 
wards nearly destroyed in a gale of wind. It was 

* The old ^vooJen pier then standing in frout of tlie " Star and 
Garter" Hutel. 


subsequently raised, taken to pieces, and reconstructed 
the following year at the Naval Yard. All being 
completed on the 28th July, 1842, at 10.30, the 
' Monkey ' succeeded in getting it afloat. She went off 
from the Naval Esplanade in front of the Naval Yard 
in fine style, maintaining a vertical position during her 
"transit, although she made a great deal of water, so 
that the pumps had to be kept going nearly all the 
way out. At 5 o'clock, having reached the appointed 
place on the North Calliper, the tug cast off the tow 
rope, and the huge caisson was suffered to settle down, 
which she did very speedily, though a little out of the 
perpendicular, declining from north to south, about 
'2 feet in 24. It was, however, confidently hoped that 
the operation of sinking tJie foundation would soon 
rectify this. One of the large boats from the Naval 
Yard accompanied the caisson to the Sands, having 
on board plates for commencing the necessary work 
without an hour's loss of time. 

On the Kith of August following, the great caisson 
had sunk below the Sands l(j feet, at low- water mark, 
and the whole portion was then 42 feet higli, risini^- 9 
feet above high water, and in the course of the follow- 
ing week it was expected and hoped that 10 feet more 
would be aHded to the structure, witli the hojje of 
speedily finding a foundation suitable for the solid base 
of such an erection. 

The opposite sketch exhibits ilie ap])aratus of the 
great caisson on the 21st August, 1842, sliowing the mode 
in which the consecutive iron cylinders wore placed 
over each other to form the building of the lightliouse, 
and showing also the settlement which has gradually 




taken place, as well as its inclined position, owing to 
the sand beneath it giving way over the I'onndation 
which was supposed to be solid chalk. This inclina- 
tion, however, had been overcome by Mr. Bush by the 
12th of September, and the caisson had descended 24 
or 25 feet into the sand, or about 30 feet below low- 
water mark, the tide rising about 18 feet; and from 
various indications, combined with the general stability 
of the structure, it was presumed, and hoped, that it 
was, at last, really resting on the solid chalk. 

From a minute and careful survey made about this 
time by Mr. Bush and Lieutenant Batt, E.N., it was 
found that the caisson had remained perfectly upright 
after having been subjected for many hours the previous 
day to the tremendous violence of a very heavy storm, 
which, apparently, had not produced the slightest 
visible eil'ect upon the structure, beyond washing away 
a small timber staging, together with a small part of 
the side plates. 

Up to the middle of October, 1842, all went well, 
the building operations had been executed with great 
rapidity, and without a mishap, and sanguine hopes 
were entertained that, at last, a solid structure would 
have been erected on the celebrated Goodwin Sands, 
which had for so. long a period apparently defied all 
eftbrts to that very laudable end, even when originated 
by genius, guided by science, backed by ample resources, 
and carried out by brave and willing hearts with the 
most marvellous patience and perseverance. But Pro- 
vidence — whose ways indeed are, at times, inscrutable 
— had seemingly determined otherwise, and the whole 
of these elaborate works, upon which so much anxious 


thought, as well as vast sums of money, had been ex- 
pended, were utterly destroyed on the night of the 15th 
October, 1842. During that night a terrific storm 
sprang up, and an unfortunate vessel, believed to 
have been the ' Nancy,' an American timber ship, was 
driven full against the caisson, with such fearful 
violence that the ship was entirely wrecked, broken up 
in fact, and all hands on board must have perished ; 
whilst the caisson itself was, by this most untoward 
accident, completely overthrown, and was supposed to 
have been utterly destroyed. Such, however, was not 
the case ; the energy and resolution of Mr. Bush being 
quite equal to the occasion ; and so, in spite of 
difficulties, disappointments, and mishaps, the recon- 
struction of the Lighthouse Beacon was again 
attempted, as will now be seen. 

Mr. Bush's Second Liglitliouse Beacon. 

Notwithstanding the unfortunate accident of the 
15th October, 1842, by which the great caisson was 
run down, the reconstruction of it was again under- 
taken on a smaller scale in 1844 ; but it was shortly 
afterwards again destroyed by the sea as far down as 
low-water mark, and therefore its reconstruction for 
the third time was now commenced, thanks to the 
untiring energy and determined resolution di«j)layed 
by the engineer, whom nothing seemed to daunt, and 
no mishaps to discourage. 

In January, 1845, Mr. Bush reported that the 
difficult work was then proceeding prosperously. The 
original caisson had been recovered, and was utilized 

bush's lighthouse beacon. 


JS. Coo^ruT Ckaznic-r 

C. Liririj) J}'. 

D. Sleefm^ D". 
E GaUeiy 

f Lantern 

JJ. Shaft " 







for tlie foundation of a shaft of smaller dimensions 
than the one first proposed. The height of the iron 
column intended to sustain the lighthouse was stated 
to be " now 41 feet above low- water mark, and will be 
raised 12 feet after Mr. Bush has accomplished his task 
of boring to ascertain the strata of the Goodwins." 
The base of the column and surroundings was 20 feet 
in diameter, and 24 feet were sunk in the sand. From 
this the shaft rose and sustained at the top an octagon 
chamber, with cooking apparatus, 6 feet in diameter 
and 6 feet high ; over this was another octagon chamber 
10 feet by 6 feet high ; and above this again was an 
octagon platform 12 feet square, forming the gallery, 
having a sleeping chamber 6 feet by 6 feet in the 
centre, and over this chamber the lantern, 3 feet 6 
inches high (see section, opposite page). The gallery 
was surrounded by a rope rail passing through the tops 
of upright rods. The gallery would hold about 30 
persons, and the whole structure about 150.* The 
column was ascended by an outside stair of wood, secured 
to brackets cast on the shaft, and protected by a light 
iron bannister. This brought the visitor to a small 
covered landing projecting from the cooking chamber, 
and thus access was gained to the lowest chamber, com- 
munication with those above being effected by ladders. 
The report further states that " the caisson was 
then supposed to rest on hard sandstone, and that the 
column was firmly fixed in the caisson and sustained 
in its perpendicular by iron plummer-blocks of great 
strength, and by 9 iron stays and braces which are 

* Mr. Bush's evidence before a select committee on "Light- 
houses,"' 1845. 


attached to the side of the caisson and have a spread 
of 30 feet. The sea has no effect at all on the caisson, 
A^hich, when filled with oOO or 400 tons of stone^ 
concrete, and cement, will become firm rock. The 
lighthonse will be approached by an iron spiral stair 
going round the outside of the shaft, defended by an 
iron rail. The lantern will carry eight patent vesta 
lamps, which will present a pale blue light in order to 
distinguish it from all others. A telegraph will be 
fixed on the summit (as shown in the drawing), which 
will be 60 feet above high-water mark," After some 
further remarks the account concludes with the 
following amusing statement : — 

" The successful issue of the work thus far was com- 
memorated in a truly national manner, for on the 19th 
instant [i.e., January, 1845) Mr. Bush and a party 
celebrated the raising of the Lighthouse Beacon by 
partaking of roast beef and plum-pudding on a })latform 
laid on its summit ! " 

This " platform " would appear to have sustaiiicd a 
" roundhouse," in which Mr. Bush and his men lived 
for a time until the " octagon chambers " were com- 
pleted. This is referred to in the following character- 
istic letter addressed by Mr. Bush to j\fr. Clay, of 
"Lloyd's." The letter is without date bnl. as it 
appeared in a periodical publication issued in January, 
1845, it was probably written in December, 1844. 

"I have the satisfaction to inform you that land my 
workmen have tnken possession of our rcsidcn •(■ in the 
' roundhouse ' built on the summit of the column for 
my new Light on the (irOodwiD, and it is my intention 
to reside here until I have succeeded in ascertaining 


strata (sic) beneath the sand, should the weather 
continue favourable. That being done, I shall proceed 
to complete the Lighthouse by fixing the lantern. 

"I think I may fairly state that another inhabited 
island is now added to Her Majesty's dominions, in the 
bowels of which are imbedded many treasures, and which 
will form a nucleus for batteries and fortifications, as 
for a Harbour of Eefuge in Trinity Bay in the Downs ; 
and when completed, be the key of the British Channel, 
and thus form a second Gibraltar. 

" As so many unfounded reports have been in circu- 
lation respecting this undertaking, I will thank you to 
send this information to the London journals. 

" I am, &c., 
(Signed) " William Bush. 

" To Richard Clay, Esq., Lloyd's. 

"P.S. — I have commenced boring, to ascertain the 
sub-strata of the Goodwin, and at 50 feet beneath the 
platform have found nothing but hard sand, nearly as 
solid as rock itself." 

Any one reading this P.S. will be inclined to ask 
why did not Mr. Bush make his investigations in the 
first instance, before he commenced operations of any 
kind, either sinking caissons or otherwise. The builder 
generally carefully examines his foundation and ascer- 
tains its fitness for the structure it is to bear, before 
anything else is done in the way of building on it ; at 
least that is generally the plan carried out by archi- 
tects on shore. 

When the " octagon chambers " were built and 
properly secured, the sides being constructed of IJ 



inch deal boards, Mr. Busli, with his wife and son, 
actually resided there for some time in July, 1845, the 
lady possiuly remaining a week or two, but j^lr. Bush, 
his son, and his workmen continued there until the 
works were brought to a termination (see opposite 
sketch). During this time hundreds of visitors came 
out almost daily to see these bold adventurous spirits, 
in their elevated and novel home, who were so bravely 
fighting a battle with the elements in a cause so ex- 
cellent and useful. 

This is the first and only instance on record of any 
persons — but especially any lady — having actually 
lived and slept in any sort of structure erected on the 
Goodwin Sands, for the very sufficient reason that this 
is the first and only building or erection containing 
human habitations, which has ever been attempted on 
this perilous and dreary waste. 

^ But these elaborate works, undertaken with such 
infinite care and indomitable courage and perseverance, 
were destined never to be completed, the Corporation of 
the Trinity House having been compelled, in July, 1845, 
to interfere, and to require " Mr. Bush to take down and 
remove the shaft altogether," in order to prevent the 
building being used as a lighthouse beacon, in conse- 
quence of its position having been found to be as badly 
chosen as could possibly be. It was unfortunately 
placed in the middle of the Sands, which would there- 
fore huve had the efiect of leading vessels into danger, 
by inviting approach, instead of warning them off. So 
dangerous, indeed, to shipping was this structure that, 
in July, 1815, Captain Bullock reported to the Trinity 
House that he had prevented two foreign brigs from 


running on the Sands, they having mistaken Mr. Bush's 
column, or lighthouse, for the Trinity Beacon on the 
north-east part of the Sands, and suj)posed, in passing it 
to the northward, that they would be well clear of all 
danger. Sir J. H. Pelly, Deputy Master of the Trinity 
House, in his evidence before the Parliamentary 
Committee on " Lighthouses," in June, 1845, described 
the site as " quite ridiculous where placed ; it was a 
most dangerous structure, and ships approaching it 
must be wrecked on the Sands." 

Mr. Bush always emphatically declared that it was 
the Admiralty (through Captain Beaufort, who actually 
selected the site) and not himself, who were solely 
responsible for the choice,* and complained that he 
was most unjustly treated in having been allowed to go 
so far with his undertaking, and then being ordered to 
desist ; but, in real truth, Mr. Bush bad no one to 
blame but himself in this particular. The Trinity 
Corporation /rojn the very first had strongly objected to 
the whole scheme, and had never given him any sort of 
encouragement, nor any formal and legal permission to 
construct a caisson or to erect a light ; but. on the 
contrary, at least ten months before the last named 
date, that is on the 24th September, 1844, the Corpora- 
tion had served Mr. Bush with a formal legal notice, 
warning him that his proceedings were wholly un- 
authorised, and desiring him forthwith to desist, which 
the Trinity Corporation, under their several statutes, 
had undoubtedly full power to do ; but, notwithstand- 
ing all this, Mr. Bush persisted, entirely on his own 
responsibility, giving no heed to the notices and 
* See Appendix No. 16. 

K 2 


vrarnings addressed to him by the Corporation, until 
that body at length found themselves obliged to issue 
an order for the immediate removal of the lighthouse 
beacon. The Trinity Corporation had previously stated 
their opinion that it v^'as not expedient to j^lace lights 
on the Goodwins at all, but to moor lightships north, 
south, east, and west, around the Sands, so that they 
could be approached in dark foggy weather ; which 
any light, standing actually on the sandbank, could not 
possibly be without incurring the greatest danger to 
vessels so approaching, 

Mr. Bush, in his evidence before the Parliamentary 
Committee already mentioned, said that all these 
erections had been wholly at his own cost, and that he 
had spent, up to that time, five years of work, and 
£12,0U0 of his own private property, and that to 
complete the lighthouse would require at least £20,000 
more ! No one can read this declaration without 
feelings of the sincerest regret that so serious a loss 
should have been sustained by a man in every way so 
thoroughly public-spirited, and possessed of such a 
bold and original genius. 

In consequence of the peremptory orders of the 
Corporation, all further operations were suspended and 
the column Avas at last partly taken down. In January, 
1845, it was found to be leaning over to the south 
quite 4 feet out of the perpendicular; but, on a visit of 
the Trinity House Committee on the 9th June, 1849, at 
least 7 feet of the remains of the shaft still appeared 
above low water, and this hiiving boon pronounced 
" dangerous to boats crossing the Sands," it was subse- 
quently removed but the great caisson, on which it 


was foimde cl is, we believe, still buried deep in the sand, 
wliere it was first placed, after having been rebuilt no 
less than three different times over. 

It would be hardly fair to pronounce Mr. Bush's 
caisson system — at least so far as the Groodwins are 
concerned — as a failure, for the simple reason that it 
never had a really fair trial, the ingenious inventor and 
patentee having been pursued by every sort of ill-luck 
and misfortune, in the destruction by winds and waves 
of his several works, and the utter loss of his property ; 
whilst the novel designs embodied in his peculiar plans 
and suggestions, so much in advance of his time, were 
not then appreciated because not fully understood. 
When at last he had succeeded in raising a column and 
lighthouse on a caisson foundation, he was obliged to 
remove it in consequence of tho .^.gent of the Admiralty 
having, in the first instance, selected a highly in- 
judicious site, which proved worse than useless for 
lighthouse purposes, and so, as before stated, his 
invention never had a thorough and practical test. 
That his system was sound and perfectly correct in 
theory few, who are at all conversant with the subject, 
will be inclined to doubt. 

This was the first and last attempt that has ever 
been made to erect a lighthouse, with a dwelling-place 
attached, on the Goodwin Sands ; a fact so peculiarly 
interesting as to demand the minute and somewhat 
lengthy account which has been here given of it, and 
a circumstance with which Mr. Bush's name will be 
for ever historically and scientifically connected. 


3Ir. Steward's Single-jJile Beacon, 1843. 

Exactly one year after the destruction of Tlr. Bush's 
first attempt to build the " Light for all nations," the 
next endeavour to erect a beacon appears to have been 
made by Mr. Steward, a civil engineer, in October, 
1843. This gentleman was then well known for his 
new principle involved in the employment of what he 
denominated as " Ponderous-footed " piles for the con- 
struction of harbours of refuge, and it was on this same 
principle that the new beacon was proposed to be erected. 

The structure was entirely of iron, cast by Messrs. 
Poole of Dover, and may be thus briefly described : — A 
single massive pile, rising from a cast-iron chamber, 
6 feet 6 inches high by 4 feet square, which latter 
terminated in a solid point weighing 4 tons. "Within 
this chamber was contained a socket which was 
strengthened by iron brackets. In this was fixed five 
feet of the circular shaft of the beacon, which was 
made of inch iron cast hollow, the diameter of the 
lower shaft being 7 inches, and the upper 6. The two 
portions of the beacon were uuited by a flange and 
core ; and the entire height, from the top of the 
chamber to the ball or cage with wliich it was 
surmounted, was 27 feet. The cage or ball was an 
ellipse G feet by 4 feet in diameter, composed of round 
bars of wrought inch iron strongly secured to the shaft 
by a flange and core, constructed sO as to form a most 
conspicuous warning beacon, and also to offer the least 
possible resistance to the action of the wind. 

The beacon was to have been planted at tlio eastern 


edge of tlio Goodwins, on tlie sonth side of the Swatcli- 
way leading into Trinity Bay, nearly on the site of the 
first beacon ever put up there on the old-fashioned 
principle already referred to. The sand here was said 
to he of a very hard* and compact nature, so as to 
render the sinking to any depth no very easy task ; but 
it was expected that, as the ponderous foot or base of 
the beacon would be inserted about 9 feet into the 
sand, the pressure from without of the sand upon its 
sides and top, in addition to its own weight which, when 
filled up with sand, was estimated at upwards of 6 tons, 
would secure its perpendicular position and stability. 
The firmness of the sand at that part of the Goodwins 
where the beacon was to have been placed, would, 
it was hoped, have been very favourable to its ultimate 

Mr. Steward was fortunate in having the valuable 
assistance and co-operation of Captain Bullock, at that 
time in commaud of H.M.S. 'Tartarus.' Early 
in October, 1843, Captain Bullock succeeded — not 
without much difficulty — in fixing a buoy on the spot 
intended as the site for the new beacon, and im- 
mediately afterwards returned to Dover accompanied 
by a large lugger from the Naval Yard at Deal, which 
was to take off the beacon in tow of the ' Tartarus.' 
"When, however, half of the shaft with the ponderous 
foot was lowered into the lugger by the Ordnance 
crane, it was found that the boat was Avholly unequal 
to the weight of this part of the beacon, on account of 
the position in which it was necessary to place it. It 
was then determined to procure the services of a * chain 
lighter ' from Sheerness Dockyard, and the ■ Tartarus ' 


steamed away for this purpose. But in consequence of 
the strong winds and heavy stormy weather which 
prevailed at this period (October, 1843) it was found 
impossible to plant the beacon in its place on the 
Sands, even with the assistance of the chain lighter ; 
and the Admiralty therefore came to the conclusion that 
the season was too far advanced to make the attempt 
with safety, and it was ultimately determined that 
nothing further should be done until the next spring. 

It was not, however, until the 14th of the following 
September (1844), owing to many unlooked-for delays 
on the part of the inventor, that this singular structure 
appears to have been towed out to its destination by 
the Trinity House steamer ' Beacon ' under the direction 
of Captain Bullock, and planted on the site intended 
for it. But unfortunately, whether from' faulty con- 
struction, or want of sufficient ballasting, it immedi- 
ately fell over, and although it was afterwards carefully 
stayed it fell over again ; the result being, if we are to 
understand Captain Bullock's report, that it refused to 
stand up. Being therefore useless it was ultimately 

Upon the application of Mr. Steward, the Trinity 
Corporation very courteously awarded him the sum of 
£50 — the actual cost of manufacturing the beacon. 

Mr. James Wallsrs First Beacon, 1844. 

In the year 1844 the Trinity House, after much 
careful consideration of the subject, appear to have 
decided on the use of fixed erections in the shjvpe of 
"pile" or "mast" beacons instead of floating buoys, 


which it was thought possihle these structures might 
altogether supersede 5 and there can be little doubt 
— had it been possible to fix them securely — that 
these tall beacons, placed on or around such dangerous 
banks as the Goodwin Sands, would have been far more 
serviceable in every way than mere floating buoys ; 
although, on the other hand, buoys can be placed in 
many positions where it would be very difficult to fix 
piles of any kind, in consequence of the depth of the 
water ; as, for instance, on the north-west and south- 
west of the Goodwins, where some of the largest buoys 
are moored in water from 64 to 80 feet deep. 

The Trinity House therefore, after consulting their 
engineer, Mr. James Walker, determined to erect, as an 
experiment, a new warning beacon on the Swatchway. 
The design of this was doubtless suggested by the first 
one constructed by Captain Bullock, although larger 
and far more massive in every way, and consisting 
entirely of iron, but otherwise very much the same 
kind of erection, and intended, like the first, to serve the 
two-fold purpose of a beacon and a place of refuge for 
any shipwrecked men who might be fortunate enough 
to reach it. The structure represented a strong iron 
mast or column, 40 feet high (the total height from 
platform to top was 51 feet), based on a hexagonal plat- 
form of solid masonry upwards of 20 feet in diameter. 
The foot of tlie pillar was cone-shaped and tapered 
upwards to the extent of 6 or 8 feet. About the middle 
of the column was fixed a platform resembling a ship's 
top, surrounded by an iron railing and capable of 
holding perhaps a dozen persons, and in the summit 
was an iron basket-shaped cage, something like a 


balloon, constructed to contain a like number of persons. 
The column was tied down to the stonework by iron 
stays, and on it were fixed steps by which it could 
readily be ascended. The whole of the unwieldy 
machine was enclosed in a huge timber vessel, very like 
a brewer's vat, in which it was built, for the purpose of 
floating it to its station on the Sands. The sides of 
this wooden building were so constructed as to admit 
of their removal on the final settling down of the beacon, 
but the bottom would, of course, remain under the 
masonry. The cast of this beacon was altogether about 
£1219. The outline drawing on the opposite page will 
give an idea of its appearance. 

This original combination of iron and masonry, on 
completion, was towed out of Dover Harbour by the 
Trinity Buoy steam yacht, on the 25th of June, 1844, 
but the sea was running so high that it was found 
impossible to plant the beacon that day. The attempt 
was therefore given up, and the beacon taken into 
Eamsgate harbour to await the approach of fairer 
weather. At length, on the 6th of July following, it 
was again taken out and towed to its destination, when 
it was successfully sunk by Captains Weller and Bax 
in its appointed position in the Swatchway, some 
distance from the spot where Captain Bullock's first 
beacon was at that date still standing intact, just two 
months before it was run down and destroyed by the 
Dutch galliot, to be ultimately replaced, however, by a 
second in the September following as already mentioned. 

This last beacon of Walker's appears to have suc- 
ceeded admirably well, and stood its ground, braving 
both winds and tides for six years, until it was, in the 


walker's first beacon. 

JcLrtuai'j/ JS4>5- 

Vi-^y^JT^ j': i''. 




year 1850, removed by order of the Trinity House for 
the following very remarkable reason : — 

In the year 1845 Captain Bullock, after a special 
survey and examination of the foot by divers, reported 
that the north-east sand was driven to the westward 
between 400 and 500 feet since the last year, and 
that in consequence this warning beacon, which had 
been placed only the previous year in the Swatch way 
150 feet icithin low-water mark, and 3 feet 6 inches 
above low-water level, was then standing in 6 feet of 
water, and 300 feet without the then present low-water 
line. This singular change of levels was attributed to 
an excess of 62 days of easterly winds as comj)ared 
with the two previous years. 

In the following year (1846) Mr. Walker made a 
special survey, when the beacon was found to have 
shifted its base, and was leaning over towards the north 
3 feet in 41 out of the perj)endicular (see opposite 
sketch). During the heavy gales of the preceding year 
the beacon appears to have gone doivn with the sand ; 
but as the sand, at the period of the survey, was much 
higher than when the beacon was first erected, and the 
beacon, not having the facility of rising as the sand 
did, was then actually 7 or 8 feet lower than it was in 
January, 1845, and was in fact buried 14 feet deep 
down in the sand. Thus the beacon went down neces- 
sarily as the sand went down ; but, though it did not 
sink into the sand, it did not rise from its depressed 
position. The sand-level was at the same time found 
to be 5 or 6 feet above low-water mark, and the con- 
sequence of this was that, at high-water, the beacon 
was, comparatively speaking, only a few feet above the 


sea, and therefore too low to be of much use as a 
v^arning beacon. Nevertheless it remained standing 
lor five years after Captain Bullock's report, but no 
alteration appearing in the change of levels except for 
the worse, the beacon thus became unfortunately use- 
less, and the Trinity Board very reluctantly directed 
its removal in July, 1850. During the operation the 
ponderous iron shaft gave way near the platform or 
base, and was at once secured to the davits of the large 
lighter brought out for that purpose, the platform 
remaining in the sand. A glance at the outline 
sketch will show the position of the structure, and the 
tide and sand levels as they were in January, 1845, on the 
left of the sketch, and in August, 1846, on the right. 

The place of this beacon was marked by a huge 
Nun-buoy bearing a staff and diamond top. 

Mr. James Walker's Second Beacon, 1847. 

Profiting by past experience the Corporation of the 
Trinity House determined in 1847 to erect another 
beacon on a totally difii'erent principle and on another 
part of the Sands, and for this purpose the Board 
adopted Dr. Potts' new system of sinking iron piles or 
tubes by air pressure which was just then coming into 

The system was simple enough. A pile was placed 
perpendicularly on the sand, the top secured by an 
air-tight cap in communication with a powerful air- 
pump, by means of which the air was exhausted from 
the tube, which thereupon immediately descended by 
atmospheric pressure. When the top of this tube was 



level with the sand, operations were stopped, the cap 
removed, a fresh length of pipe affixed and secured, and 
the same course was again pursued and so continued 
until the required depth was reached.* 

The Trinity House proved the value of this invention 
by an experiment tried on the G-oodwins on the 16th 
of July, 1845, by sinking a hollow pipe, 30 inches in 
diameter, 33^ feet down into the sand in the short 
space of 5i hours, showing that any number of piles or 
caissons might be sunk in this way, and the interior 
filled up with masonry or concrete so as to form the 
foundation of a lighthouse or beacon. 

Accordingly, in August, 1847, a beacon was erected 
on the South Calliper under the direction of Mr. James 
Walker, assisted by Captain Bullock, making the third 
which the latter had constructed, or superintended, on 
the Goodwin Sands. This was a hollow column or 
mast of cast iron, 2 feet 6 inches in diameter, put 
together 10 and 20 feet lengths, and inserted 31 feet 6 
inches in the sand by means of Dr. Potts' atmospheric 
pressure system just referred to. This column was 
surrounded by four other columns of 15 inches in 
diameter, the whole being bolted together laterally and 
diagonally with the central column and with each other 
by means of wrought iron rods and clips secured by 
screws and wedges. The centre column rose 37 feet 
6 inches from the sand, and the cage at the top was 
18 feet 6 inches above the cap. The column was also 
connected with the four small tubes by iron stays, and 
the whole structure, with the cage, being just 56 feet 
high above the sand level. This cage, like the ship's 
* See Appendix No. 1. 


"■ top " ia Captain Bullock's first two beacons, was in- 
tended as a refuge, and was reached by means of steps. 

This elaborate and scientific structure, which 
promised so much for stability and general utility, so 
strongly built and so carefully put together, with its 
^' tie rods, screws, clips, and wedges," and moreover 
*' sunk 31 feet 6 inches in the sand," was washed away 
in less than two months from the date of its erection^ 
namely, in the great gale of the 23rd October, 1847, as 
notified by the usual Trinity House notice to the eff'ect 
that the beacon had " disappeared." It was seen 
perfect in the morning of the day named ; a few hours 
afterwards not a vestige of its foundation was even 
discernible ! It would appear to have been overthrown 
h)y the violence of winds and waves, and to have sunk 
in the Sands in an oblique position, entirely out of the 
perpendicular. In 1849 and '50 attempts were made 
to raise it or remove it, with partial success. It is 
quite possible that the cylinders were not carried down 
a suflicient depth, and so, having but little real hold in 
the soft sand, were easily overthrown. 

It should never be forgotten that whilst this emi- 
nently scientific structure, which had cost a very 
considerable sum of money, had borne the storms and 
waves of the Goodwins for only two months. Captain 
Bullock's original, and most simple, design of the ship's 
mast and shrouds had firmly stood its ground for a 
period of seven years. 

The Trinity Beacon, 1849. 
A peculiar interest attaches to this warning beacon, 



not only because it was the last that was ever erected 
on these dangerous sandbanks, but because it bid 
defiance to storms and waves for the long period of 
thirty years. 

It was erected in August, 1849, near the inner edge 
of the eastern portion of the Goodwins, iinder the 
superintendence of Captain Vinten, one of the Elder 
Brethren of the Trinity House. It was, in general 
design, similar to the last, a central cylinder with 
smaller supporting cylinders, only that these latter 
were more in numbet, and appeared to have been sunk 
very much deeper into the sand. They were all 
strongly braced together with tie-rods and clips. The 
main cylinder was said to have penetrated the sand to 
the immense depth of 72 feet, thereby reaching the 
solid chalk, and thus establishing a firm and holding 
foundation, hence its durability for so many years. It 
was, like the last, fitted with a cage, but of difi'erent 
form, at the summit, just 50 feet above the sand, and 
provided with ladder irons by which it could be easily 
reached from below. As 72 feet were buried in the 
sand the central column must have been of the pro- 
digious length of 122 feet, affording an excellent 
illustration of the great utility of Dr. Potts' process of 
sinking hollow iron piles which has been so often 
referred to in the preceding pages. 

This warning beacon held its ground intact until 
the year 1879, when it was overthrown in the great 
storm which occurred in the winter of that year ; and 
thus disappeared the last beacon that ever raised its 
warning head on the treacherous Goodwin Sands. 

It has never been replaced, and there is now con- 


sequently no beacon at all on any part of the Sands, 
as it is thought that the four lightships, and the nine 
large buoys — so placed that they surround the entire 
area of the Sands — will afford sufficient protection 
and warning to mariners both by day and by 

The reader will have noticed that each of the warninof 
beacons, previously described, was fitted with a " top," 
or " cage," which could be reached by ladders, or step 
irons, in order to enable any shipwrecked persons, who 
might be fortunate enough to gain the sand, to ascend 
into these places of refuge. The design of such a gallery 
was, apparently, first suggested by the model of a 
proposed Safety Beacon submitted to the Trinity 
Corporation by Mr. Bush, so far back as 1836 (see ante, 
p. 112). This plan was followed by Captain Bullock, and 
by the designers of all the other warning beacons that 
were subsequently erected on the Goodwins : — But it 
is perhaps worthy of remark that these " refuges " were 
never really used, no shipwrecked person having ever 
been known to have got up into any one of them. The 
utility of their intention was, however, beyond all 
question, because if a castaway found himself stranded 
on the sand at low water, he would, unless speedily 
rescued, be inevitably drowned by the rising tide,* 
whereas, if able to gain one of these elevated refuges, 
he would most certainly be thereby saved from im- 
mediate death, and could retain his position in perfect 
safety until he was seen, and taken otf, by either a 
passing ship or a hovelling boat. 

* A most melancholy case of this kind happened a few years ago, 
which will be found fully detailed in Appendix No. 18. 


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As lighthouses and beacons are, as a general rule, 
fixed structures, so, on the other hand, lightships and 
buoys are always floating bodies secured to the spot 
they are intended to guard by anchors, sinkers, and 
mooring chains ; and, without any doubt, the next best 
thing to a lightship is a buoy placed in a proper 
position to act as a " warning beacon," and to give 
notice, to all comers, to avoid the dangerous ground 
which it so clearly indicates. It is almost needless to 
say that such a region as the Goodwin Sands, in addition 
to the four lightships, is most carefully buoyed on all 
sides in order to mark distinctly the shape and boundary 
of the sands, so that navigators, who study and under- 
stand their charts properly, ought never to be at a loss 
as to the exact position of these shoals. 
K No less than nine of these useful machines stand like 
sentinels, on every side, some of gigantic size, and 
moored in water ranging from 24 to 78 feet in depth. 
Their different positions may be described as fol- 
lows : — 

Three on the north, namely, the " North-west Good- 
win," a black buoy; the "Goodwin Knoll," a black 
buoy ; and the " North-east Goodwin," a whistling buoy, 
black and white stripes. Two on the east, the " East 
Goodwill," a chequered buoy with St. George's cross ; 
and the "South-east Goodwin," a black and wdiite 
striped buoy. Two on the south, the " South Goodwin," 
a ciic<iuacil ^'^^^y '"'ith cage; and the "South-west 


Goodwin," a black buov. And two on tho west, the 
^'Bmit Head," a black buoy; and tlie "North-west 
Bunt," a black buoy. 

It may interest many of our practical readers to know 
that the whole of these are of iron. Three of them, 
in the most exposed positions, are 17 feet high, secured 
by from 45 to 75 fathoms of chain cable, and attached 
to 30 and 40 cwt. sinkers, in from 11 to 78 feet of 
water; the others range from 10 feet 10 inches to 
13 feet 6 inches, and are moored in water from 24 feet 
to 64 feet in depth. The vast utility of these monitors 
— these finger-posts of the trackless deep — as a warning 
to mariners to beware of these dangerous sandbanks, 
cannot be too highly estimated. Without these 
directing buoys by day, and the lightships by night, 
the navigation of such perilous waters would be little 
more than a desperate game of hazard, ending, only 
too frequently, in wreck and disaster of every kind; 
but, with them, the road is rendered so plain and direct 
that, saving adverse and tempestuous weather, the 
steering, with proper knowledge and skill, becomes 
almost a matter of certainty. 

Herbert's Buoy. 

In the year 1853, Mr. George Herbert, of the Trinity 
House, invented and patented a new kind of buoy, the 
shape of which will be readily understood by reference 
to the annexed outline figure. Mr. Herbert, in his 
work, * On the Construction of Floating Bodies,' says, 
speaking of his new principle : — • 

L 2 


"The principle is to construct floating bodies, not 
intended for locomotion, so tliat they shall be moored 
from the centre of gravity, which, by a due distribution 
of weight, is made co-incident with the centre of the 
plane of flotation. In order to attain this consideration 
the bottom of the floating body is hollowed out, and 
raised up, so as to form a hollow cone, to the apex of 
which the mooring chain is attached. This plan has 
proved a great success in many buoys which have been 
so constructed, and they have always kept in an upright 
position even in heavy gales." 

It is quite certain that the tide has no power over a 
buoy so constructed to force it out of the perpendicular 
by any haulage upon it by the mooring chains, or other- 
wise ; indeed the strongest tide has no effect in causing 
it to deviate from its upright position ; for, whatever 
tendency there may be to produce a lean over by the 
tide pressing upon any side of it, this is directly counter- 
balanced by the pressure of the same tide upon the 
farther, or opposite side of the hollow cone at the 
bottom, so that one force neutralizes the other, and the 
buoy remains upright. 

There can be no question of the correctness of this 
principle of mooring stationary floating bodies from 
the centre of gravity, or little doubt that the more 
distant the mooring is from the centre of gravity, 
the less steady, and the less secure is that floating 

Mr. Herbert, in the following year, altered and ex- 
tended his original design, as will be seen in the 
opposite sketch ; and a buoy of this form was, three 
years afterwards {i.e., in 1857) placed in the Queen's 












Channel, Liverpool, as an experiment, and was known 
as the " Fair ^Yay Buoy." Its merits and utility were 
fully attested in a letter or report, addressed to 
the Trinity Board, by Lieutenant Murray Parks, 
E.N., at that period Marine Surveyor to the Port of 

The same general design, but greatly enlarged and 
improved, was carried out in the construction of a buoy 
or beacon of unusual dimensions, which was placed, by 
order of the Trinity Board, near the South Sand Head 
of the Goodwin Sands, in October, 1854, intended also 
as an experiment. This fine buoy-beacon was 25 feet 
in diameter at its level, or " deck," and from this rose a 
sort of tower 25 feet high, carrying a ball 3 feet 6 
inches in diameter. Plate iron was used, and the buoy 
was constructed in compartments. The upper part of 
the tower was fitted with a door opening into a chamber 
to which access was gained by ladder irons. In this 
chamber was a small supply of biscuit and water. 
The buoy was moored from the centre of gravity, as 
shown in the opposite sketch, only the mooring chain 
was passed over a windlass, which, with the hawse tube 
below, was made to turn on a swivel, so that the buoy 
could rotate freely without twisting the chain, the links 
being firmly held by a stopper. The chain, after 
passing the windlass, led through a shackle attached to 
the mooring anchor ; by which ingenious arrangement 
the chain became endless, and could be sighted in all 
its parts at any moment for examination, painting, or 
otherwise, by simply revolving the windlass, and thus 
very materially lessening the chances of a deterioration 
or failure. The tower was also supplied with a signal 


flag, and railin,e;s were placed round the level deck 

As this buoy was experimental, it was purposely- 
placed in the overfall of the sea at the South Sand Head 
in order to test its qualities, for no ship or boat could 
possibly have retained her position on this particular 
spot ; and yet, after careful observation, it was found 
that the buoy did not oscillate in a heavy gale more 
than 10°, although lightships are known to roll to the 
extent of 40'. 

Mr. Herbert's principle, though undoubtedly sound, 
yet possessed one fault, which was that, owing to the 
ceaseless motion of the sea, the mooring chain was found 
to press with so much force upon the lower edges of 
the internal cone, and to occasion so much friction, that 
in time a hole was worn completely through this part. 
This was the case with the buoy in question, when, as 
a matter of course, it instantly filled and went down. 
It was afterwards raised, and an examination at once 
revealed the cause of the disaster ; a largo hole was 
found in the lower edge of the cone, occasioned by the 
pressure and rubbing of the mooring chain. 

Finding that large buoys constructed on this 
principle were completely succes-^ful, ]\lr. Herbert pro- 
posed that a regular lighthouse, with short tower and 
lantern, should be placed on a huge buoy of this pattern, 
only very much larger in form, far more strongly built, 
the tower and hmtcrn taking the placo of the cone and 
ball. The plan seems perfectly fcasilde, and it would 
appear to bo only a question of size and strength ; for, 
if such a, vessel could be constructed, measuring 25 feet 
m uiamcter, so could auother such vessel be built of 


just double or treble that size, capable of carrying 
double or treble the weight ; and so long as it was 
fully and carefully ballasted below, to avoid the danger 
of being top-heavy, there can be little doubt of the 
practicability of the scheme. It does not, however, 
appear to have ever been experimentally tried ; perhaps 
the necessarily large cost of such a structure might 
have been the obstacle. 

Courtney's Automatic, or Whistling, Buoy. 

The idea of fixing a whistle in a buoy in such a 
manner that it would be blown by the air forced 
through it by the pressure of the waves, and the cease- 
less motion of the buoy, is nothing new ; such a 
contrivance was known more than forty years ago, 
although it does not appear to have been much used. 
Courtney's patent is a clever American invention, and 
exhibits a great improvement in the general con- 
struction of whistling buoys. In shape the body of the 
buoy is similar to the ordinary conical one, except that 
at about 3 feet from the top it is made quite flat. On 
this are fastened two small tubes, through which the 
air passes into the interior, and between these a large 
whistle is fixed. Around the whole is a hand-rail, 
and steps are placed so that the top may be reached 
from a boat for painting, repairing, or other purposes, 
and there is also a man-hole to get at the interior if 
necessary. To the bottom of the cone a large iron tube 
is attached. When in use, more especially in a heavy 
sea, the wind which passes down the two small tubes is 
forced out through the whistle by the perpetual move- 


ment of the buoy. The noise, it is expected, ■will be so 
great that it "will be heard for probably some miles. 

Such a buoy as this was placed, by order of the 
Trinity House, on the 8th of January, 1880, as an 
experiment on the North East Goodwin in order to test 
its powers and capabilities in the capacity of a 
" warning " buoy or beacon, and it remains there still, 
and ajjpears to answer its purpose very well. 

Luminous Paint Buoy. 

Another and very interesting experiment was tried, 
by order of the Trinity House, in the year 1882, to test 
the utility of luminous paint, by mooring a buoy so 
painted close to the North Tongue Buoy, which is 
covered with the ordinary paint. As the night of the 
trial happened to be very bright and clear, both buoys 
appeared to show equally well at a distance; but it 
was thought that in a dark night the luminous buoy 
would have the advantage. It so happened, however, 
that actual experience proved the contrary, as the 
following statements show : — 

A buoy covered with luminous paint was laid down 
near the entrance of Harwich Harbour, and one of the 
continental steamers trading to that port, coming in at 
niglit, whilst the captain was anxiously looking out for 
this buoy in order to guide him in, actually ran over it 
before it was seen at all. Another buoy so painted, 
was placed by the French authorities at Havre-de- 
Grace, and was run down by a vessel under almost 
exactly similar circumstances. 


PintsclCs Gas Buoy. 

This is a most ingenious invention for producing a 
fixed light. These buoys are made perfectly gas and 
water-tiirht, and charged with ffas at a pressure of 10 
atmospheres, or 150 lb. to the square inch. The gas 
contained in the buoy is estimated to burn day and 
night for a period of three or four months, the burning 
pressure being carefully regulated, and kept constant, 
by Pintsch's patent regulator. These have been in use 
for three or four years in England and Scotland, and 
have been found to answer their purpose so well that 
it is not impossible they may be tried on the Goodwin 
Sands, which, however, as yet they have not been. 

Bells on Buoys. 

A plan for placing bells on buoys to be rung by the 
action of the waves was patented by Mr. E. Stevenson 
so far back as 1810. The idea is by no means new, as 
a bell was placed, more than three centuries ago, on the 
"Inchcape Eock," on the Forfarshire coast, by the 
charitable Abbot of Aberbrothock ; but which, accord- 
ing to the legend, was cut away by a Dutch rover, or 
pirate, either for the purposes of robbery or else out of 
sheer wanton mischief, and for which notable exploit — 
if we are to believe the legend — he was overtaken by a 
terrible retribution, his ship having been wrecked on 
the very same rock, when he and all his crew perished 
miserably. The story forms the subject of a charming 
ballad by Southey, called the "Inchcape Bell," in 


which the events of the legend are told with much 
graphic force and beauty. The Inchcape Eock is the 
site of the present Bell Kock Lighthouse. 

Many lighthouses, in exposed positions close to or in 
the sea, are fitted with a bell or bells which, when the 
atmosphere is thick and hazy, are kept continually 
tolling by the aid of machinery. The new Eddystone 
is provided with two which are always rung in foggy 
weather, and it is said that they can be heard at a con- 
siderable distance. 

( 155 ) 



Hamblin and Avery's first Lightship at the Nore — The second 
Lightship at the Dudgeon — Bad system of mooring — Bridle- 
chains, mushroom anchors, and stone and iron "sinkers" — First 
Lightship on the Goodwins, North Sand Head — Second at the 
Gull Stream — Third at South Sand Head — Fourth at Eastern 
edge of the Sands — Cost and general arrangement of Lightships 
— Crews — Pay — Dangers to which Lightships are exposed — 
Constant watchfulness necessary — Spare Lightship always kept 
ready fitted — Lady Brassey's account of the harbour of Monte 
Video — Gross neglect by the lighthouse keeper. 

It was about the beginning of the last century that an 
idea was originated which ultimately developed itself 
into an invention of the greatest importance to navi- 
gators, and introduced a totally different system of 
lighting our coasts. Eobert Hamblin, who followed 
the occupation of a barber at Lynn, in Norfolk, con- 
ceived the plan of substituting a floating lightship 
for a fixed lighthouse in situations where it would 
be utterly impossible to place any built-up structure ; 
and to this man's genius we owe this most eminently 
useful system which has now been adopted all over the 
civilised world. 

Hamblin appears to have married the daughter of a 
master-mariner and ship-owner living in Lynn, and 


ultimately to have become himself the captain of a 
small vessel engaged in trading up and down the east 
coasts. Subsequently he joined a Londoner named 
Avery, a man of great intellectual capacity and 
adventurous turn of mind ; and to their sagacity and 
enterprise combined we owe the first floating light that 
ever appeared on English waters, which was established 
at the Nore in 1732.* 

As the Nore floating light was found to be so 
successful, it was determined that a second should be 
established at the Dudgeon, which was accordingly 
carried out in 173G. 

The great obstacle to the utility of lightships which 
was experienced in the olden days, was found to be the 
extreme difiiculty of mooring them securely so as to 
prevent them from drifting about when the wind was 
blowing a gale, a circumstance calculated to fearfully 
deceive, instead of guide, the storm-tossed mariner. 
This was owing to the system of mooring being so 
very imperfectly understood at that period. But 
moder-n ingenuity and science, at once recognising 
this great danger, have entirely got over the difficulty 
by means of "bridle chains" of enormous strength, 
and " mushroom " anchors (so called from their exact 
resemblance to that vegetable), and stone and iron 
"sinkers" of vast weight, and so securely are these 
vessels now held that for any one of them to break 
away from her moorings is a very rare occurrence 

* A beacon of some kind, but not a light, was placed at the 
Nore so far back as the year IGS-i. The vessel now exhibits one 
bright revolving li^ht. 


The great success of tlie Nore liglitship induced the 
Trinity House to try the effect of a similar experiment 
on the Goodwin Sands, and accordingly the first light- 
ship that ever threw her warning heams over those 
dangerous waters was placed at the North Sand Head 
in the year 1795. This, of course, was a wooden vessel, 
probably some old hulk purchased for the purpose, and 
ill-suited for the peculiar duty ; but, some years ago, 
she was replaced by a strong iron craft of 184 tons, 
built at Blackwall expressly for this service. She is 
moored in 9 fathoms of water, by 210 fathoms of 1^- 
inch chain-cable, by one " mushroom " anchor weighing 
2 tons 10 cwt. She formerly carried three fixed lights, 
one on each of her three masts ; but these were altered 
in 1877 to one flashing light, placed 36 feet above the 
water, and showing three quick flashes per minute, 
visible at 10 miles range. She also carries a "fo2- 
gong " to give notice of her position in thick weather. 
Like all the Trinity House lightships, she is painted 
bright red, with her name in huge white letters on 
her broadsides,* so as to be easily read by all who pass 
within convenient distance. The total cost to the 
Trinity House of this ship and all her fittings was 
£5,587, a comparatively small sum when her enormous 
utility in saving life and property is remembered. 

After a fourteen years' trial this light-vessel proved 
so great a success that the Trinity House— always 
foremost in every good and useful work connected with 
the shipping interests of Great Britain — determined to 
place a second lightship on the western edge, and 

* In Ireland the lightships under the " Ballast Board " are 
painted black. 


nearly between the two portions of the Sands com- 
monly called the " Griill Stream." Another floating 
light was therefore placed here in 1809 — a wooden 
vessel of 158 tons, built, like the last, expressly for the 
work. She is moored in 8 fathoms of water, and, like 
her neighbour, is secured with a " mushroom " of 3 tons 
and the same description of chain cable, and has in 
addition an anchor with 4 fathoms of 2 inch chain cable. 
Her name ' Gull ' is painted on her sides. Previous to 
1825 the 'Gull' lightship had one mast and a yard, 
from the arms of which two fixed lights were exhibited ; 
but after that date, and until 1860, she carried her two 
lights placed on two masts in the usual manner. 
Since 1860, however, these have been most judiciously 
altered to one flash light 38 feet above the water, 
which shows a " flash " every 20 seconds, whilst the 
light revolves once in every 2 minutes, and is visible 
at a distance of 10 miles. By this admirable plan the 
light is seen to flash six times during the entire revolu- 
tion on all points of the compass, and therefore can 
never be mistaken for anything else but what it really 
is. She also carries a fog-gong. The first cost of this: 
ship was £4,197 — nearly £400 less than the iron ship 
at the North Sand Head — but the new revolving light 
since added, with its elaborate machinery, has very 
materially increased the original expense. 

The practical utility of these two lightships having 
been so complete in every way, a third was ordered to be 
placed to indicate the position of the extreme southern 
end of the Sands to mariners proceeding northwards 
through the narrow straits. A wooden vessel of 184 
tons, built at Blackwall at a total cost of £3,212, was 


therefore placed here in the year 1832. Her moorings, 
consisting of a mushroom, weighing 3 tons, and an 
anchor, are laid in 14 fathoms of water. She has one 
mast only, with the usual red ball, and one flashing 
light, fixed in 1881, giving two quick flashes every 
half minute, placed 34 feet above the water, and visible 
iit 10 miles ; and, like her two consorts, is painted red 
with her name ' South Sand ' in white on her broadsides. 
In 1875 a fog-horn, or " siren." was added to warn 
mariners coming from the south of the immediate 
vicinity of the southern point, i.e. the commencement, 
of the dangerous ground they were approaching, and 
this signal has been found to be of the greatest service 
in thick weather. 

As the north, south, and west (or inner) sides of the 
Goodwins were thus carefully lighted, it was determined 
for additional safety that a fourth light on the east, or 
outer, side should be added. Accordingly, in 1874, a 
wooden ship of 163 tons was moored here iji 30 fathoms 
of water, by 270 fathoms of l^-inch cable to a mush- 
room of 3 tons weight, in addition to a heavy anchor. 
She carries one revolving light showing every 15 seconds, 
with the peculiarity of its being green, to warn steersmen 
to keep well to the east when passing up and down along 
the " Back of the Sands," as the outer or east side is com- 
monly spoken of in the county. This light is placed 37 
feet above the sea, and is visible 10 miles. The vessel is 
also provided with a fog-gong. We believe that there 
are only two other instances of lightships carrying 
green revolving lights, and these are the ' Inner 
Dowsing' and the' Mouse \; but red, both fixed and 
revolving, are very frequent. 


As these four lightships, like watchful sentinels, teep 
guard on one of the most dangerous and treacherous 
parts of our English coast, it may not be altogether 
uninteresting to give some few particulars concerning 
these vessels, their general arrangements, and the | 

number of hands constituting their crews, as well as I 

the remuneration which the men receive for this appar- 
ently dangerous service. 

The rules as to numbers and pay are the same in all 

these Goodwin lightships, and the crews, consisting of 

twelve persons all told, are classed and paid as 

follows : — 

The Master, £5 per month, and £20 per annum for house rent. 
The Mate, £4 8s. per month, and, after 5 years, £5 per month. 
The Carpenter, £2 17s. to £3 5s. Qd. per month. 
3 Lamplighters, £3 each per month ; after 3 years, £3 3s., and, 

after 5 years, £3 os. Gd. 
G Seamen, £2 12s. 6d. each per month, rising to £2 15s. and to 

£2 17s. 6d., as above. 

In addition to this, the men receive 1.9. 9cl. per man, 
per day, victualling money. The seamen are shipped 
for six months on probation, after which their lives are 
insured for £150 or £200, the Trinity House paying 
2s. (kl. per month each for this purpose. 

The master or the mate are always on board for one 
month each, together with six men, that is to say, there 
are always seven on and five off duty; and of these 
seven, three are up all night to attend to the lamps — an 
excellent provision, denoting the care and forethought 
bestowed on these important arrangements. Each ship 
carries a gong, two guns for firing signals, and also a 
good supply of rockets and other pyrotechnic appliances 
for the purpose of giving noi'ice along the shore when- 


ever a disaster happens on the Sands, and signalling 
the authorities to dispatch immediate assistance in the 
way of either lifehoat or steam-tug. 

Books, periodicals, and newspapers are furnished in 
abundance by numerous kindly disposed and benevolent 
persons. The food is good and well cooked ; tobacco is 
plentiful, and the men are altogether made as comfort- 
able as the peculiar and exceptional circumstances of 
their case will permit. 

These lightships are built expressly for strength 
and endurance, and are securely moored with the 
strongest and best descrijition of anchors and chain 
cables ; yet the service on board is by no means free 
from danger and anxiety, as might at first sight be 
supposed. Very serious accidents often occur from the 
fact of these vessels being run down by both steamers 
and sailing ships. In 1856, the ' Gull ' lightship was 
run into by an American, and the light extinguished ; 
but, thanks to the admirable arrangements on board, in 
about three hours the lamps were all alight again. 
Within the last few years two others, near the entrance 
of the Thames, have been actually sunk at their moor- 
ings from this same cause ; and the East Goodwin and 
South Sand Head lights have been frequently damaged 
by collisions, and in some cases very seriously. But a 
short time ago (1885) the latter vessel had her lights 
put out and lier side stove in. It seems almost a 
paradox that, of all vessels in the world, a lightship, 
carrying a brilliant lantern at her mast-head, should 
ever be run down at all ; and it can only be accounted 
for by under -manned ships being unable to maintain a 
proper look-out, or captains having over confidence in 



steam power, and recklessly steering too close to danger 
and not allowing for the strength of cross-currents. 

In crowded waters, like the Downs especially and 
their immediate surroundings, the lightsmen when on 
duty necessarily live in a state of constant anxiety and 
watchfulness, for they well know that all their pre- 
caution and care will not always insure innunnity from 
the peculiar dangers to which they are subject, and over 
which they can have no sort of control. 

One danger we believe, however, is of rare occurrence, 
and that is for a lightship to break away from her 
moorings, or to drag her anchors ; and this may be ex- 
plained by the immense strength of the chain cables 
employed, and by the admirable and thorough manner 
in which they are secured. 

It should also be knowm, as exhibiting the extreme 
care and foresight of the Trinity House in these matters, 
that a spare lightship, fully equipped and fitted for sea, 
is always kept at Blackwall to be in instant readiness, 
if required, in the event of untoward accidents befalling 
any of these lightships ; and a few hours, it is said, will 
suffice to tow her dov.n, place her in position, and 
exhibit her light. 

As a singular contrast to the ceaseless iuid watchful 
care wliich Lngland, through the Trinity Board, besto\\s 
on her lighthouses and lightships, a curious statement 
is made by Lady Brassey, in her most interesting work 
the ' Voyage of the Sunbeam,' as exhibiting the ignor- 
ance and mismanagement tolerated by other nations in 
regard to the most important and vital question of pro- 
tecting tlieir coasts by efficient lighting. Speaking of 
the dangerouG navigation of the apjjroach to the liarbour 


of Monte Video, Lady Brassey says : — " The shore is very 
low and difficult to distinguish, and the lights are hadly 
kept. If the lighthouse keeper happens to have plenty 
of oil, and is not out shooting or fishing, he lights his 
lamp; otherwise he omits to perform this rather 
important part of his duties. The lighthouses can 
therefore hardly he said to be of much use." 

The consequence of this shameful neglect was 
that the ' Sunbeam ' nearly ran on shore. Accustomed 
as we are in England to the admirable arrangements 
and the careful and intelligent discipline of the Trinity 
House, it is almost impossible to realise the startling- 
fact of a lighthouse keeper coolly taking his pleasure 
shooting or fishing, and utterly neglecting that very 
part of his duties on which life and death may be 
almost said to depend. But instances of gross official 
neglect and careless mismanagement seem to prevail 
all over South America, where apathy and indift'erence 
are the rule, energy and intelligence the exception. 

Telegraphs to Liglitsldps. 

It must be a matter of some surprise" that, whilst 
almost every trade, business, or profession has benefited 
more or less by the electric telegraph, it has never been 
applied to lighthouses or lightships — places of all 
others where the means of direct and immediate com- 
munication are most urgently needed. The position of 
light-keepers is often both distressing and em- 
barrassing, for, when a wreck occurs almost uDier 
their very eyes, all they can do is to fire guns ai^d let 
off rockets, Avhich at best produce but a vai^ae iji''"iu, 

M 2 


and convey no sort of intimation to the shore as to the- 
particular spot where the speedy help of the lifeboat is- 
required. Carrier-pigeons have been tried, Init they 
are generally far too terrified to fly through a heavy 
gale of wind, and always return to the light. There 
surely need be no very great or insurmountable difii- 
culties in the way of connecting lightships with the 
coast, for they are generally moored at the distance of 
only a few miles, and, even if vessels anchoring near 
fouled or brote the cable, it could readily be repaired ; 
but, if its track was carefully and plainly buoyed, this 
danger would be avoided. An influential meeting was 
held at the Mansion House in London, in October, 1881, 
to consider the vast importance and necessity of con- 
necting our lighthouses and lightships with the shore- 
by electric cables ; but as yet it seems to have been but 
a proposition and nothing more. Is it too much to 
hope that the subject may again receive the serious 
consideration of the ruling authorities, and that this 
great and useful improvement may yet be carried 
out ? 

( 11^^ ) 



Tj^'H reputiition of the Sands — Wrecks and lifeboat services — Loss 
of a \vhole fleet of men-of-war — Great stonii of 1703 — 
Destruction of the first Eddystone Lighthouse — IJ. i\1.?. 
' Carlisle ' blown up — Charges against the Lords of the 
Admiralty — Earl of Dundonald — Wreck of tlie 'Aurora' trans- 
port — ' British Queen ' — ' Shepherdess ' — -Nameless Wrecks — 
' Mary Wright '— ' Eleanore '— ' Queen of the Tyne '— ' Violet ' 
— Rev. John Gilmore's " Storm Warriors" — ' Gutenberg ' — Poem 
entitled ' Routine' — AVreck of the ' Honi Sveru' — An American 
clipper — ' Mia Madre ' — ' Leda ' — ' Colina ' — ' Shannon ' — ' Paul 
Boyton '— ' Freden '— ' Ganges '—Wreck of the ' Effort '—Extra- 
ordinary rescue of six hovellers — Wreck of a Portuguese brig — 
' Mary ' — ' Linda ' — ' Amoor ' — ' Providentia ' — ' Aurora Borealis' 
- — Excessive competition — Great ignorance — A "quiet sleep" in 
Trinity Bay — Reckless sailing — Ships grounded on Sands pulled 
off again. 

[This chapter does not pretend to contain a record of «// the 
■wrecks which have occurred on the Goodwins, but merely a refcr- 
■euce to a few of the most remarkable.] 

As the Goodwin Sands have had an evil reputation 
for nearly eight centuries for danger and disaster, as 
already mentioned, it is not surprising that the stories 
told of misfortune and wreck which have overtaken 
many a good ship steering through the Straits are as 
numerous as they are varied. Even the Dov^'ns have 
not, by any means, been always proof against the 
destructive effects of wind and tempest, although they 


are considered as a sort of harbour of refuge where 
sliips can ride out a storm in comparative safety^ 
protected on one side by the shore and on the other 
by the Goodwins. 

It may be here worthy of remark that the number of 
wrecks, from all causes, on or near the British coasts 
is generally surprisingly large, notwithstanding the 
ever-watchful care of the Trinity House in always so 
readily providing lighthouses, lightsnips, beacons, and 
buoys wheresoever and whensoever required. The 
official returns give the total number of wrecks and 
casualties for 1879 as 4,436, involving the loss of 892 
lives. During the previous twenty-four .years 46,320 
vessels had been wrecked on the British coasts, with the 
loss of 17,^29 lives ; which loss would have been very 
far greater but for the noble services of our many 
lifeboats, for the returns reveal the fact that durinc: 
the year 1879 as many as 855 lives were preserved from 
shipwreck by means of the lifeboats on our coasts. 

Of the many interesting stories of loss and wreck on 
the Goodwins, one of the most remarkable, l^ecanse the 
most terril-.. j.u t^d wholesale uostruction which it 
recounts, relates to the total loss of an entire jleet of 
men-of-war in the celebrated " great storm " of 1703, 
which has been so often referred to in various histories 
and narratives. The fleet, consisting of thirteen ships 
under the command of Picar-Admiral Basil lieaumont,* 
was at anchor in the Downs on the morning of the 
26th of JN'ovembcr, 1703. Tlie Aveather had been 
especially bad, and very stormy for many days pre- 
viously, and by eleven o'clock p.m. on the date named, 
* Si'i- A]'i'( ii ix Xo. 17. 

WKECKS. 167 

the gale^ Avliicli had been blowing liard all day from the 
south-west, had increased to such tremendous violence 
that the storm which followed is recorded as haviner 
been one of the greatest and most destructive ever 
known in this country. It raged in the Downs with 
unbounded fury for a period of nearly eight hours, and, 
when morning dawned, the fleet, which the evening 
before had been safe at its moorings, was nowhere to 
be seen, every vessel having been totally lost or wrecked, 
either on the Sands or on the neighbouring shore. Of 
the thirteen ships of war four, namely, the ' Stirling 
Castle,' 70 guns, the ' Mortar Bomb,' the ' Mary,' 70 
guns, and the ' Eestoration,' were totally lost, having 
broken their cables and got on the Sands. Only 
seventy persons were saved from the two former ships, 
whilst every soul perished in the two latter, including 
the unfortunate Admiral himself, who was on board 
the ' Mary.' Of the remaining nine, whilst some were 
sunk, the majority went ashore on the mainland and 
became complete wrecks, and 1,200 officers and men 
are said to have perished. The loss of merchant ships 
which had also anchored in the Downs, and the 
destruction of buildings and property along the coast 
of Kent as well as inland — the ships in the Medway, 
including the ' Vanguard,' 70 guns, not escaping — is 
reported to have been disastrous in the extreme, and 
the extraordinary power and violence of the storm to 
have been wholly unprecedented.* 

Nor was it in the Downs or in the neisrhbuuriuf 
county that the damage by this fearful storm was most 
apparent. The following first-rate men-of-war were 
* See Api'C'Ui'ix N\'. is. 


totally wrecked and most of their crows lost as well : 
the ' York,' 70 guns, at Harwich ; the ' Eesolution,' GO, 
off the Sussex coast ; the 'Newcastle,' 60, at Si^ithead; 
and the ' Eeserve,' 6o guns, in Yarmouih Ituaus. 

In London alone property to the value of upwards of 
a million sterling was destroyed, and 800 houses were 
more or less damaged or wrecked. In Gloucestershire 
it is said that 15,000 sheep were driven into the 
Severn and drowned ; but this certainly seems an 
enormously unreasonable number, and the report 
possibly may have been much exaggerated. Hundreds 
of churches all over the country were unroofed, had 
their steeples blown down, or were otherwise damaged. 
Upwards of thirty ships of war were wrecked on the 
northern and western coasts, or in various ports or 
harbours, together with a vast number of merchant 
vessels and fishing craft, and over 8,000 persons were 
estimated to have perished. 

It may not be out of place here to mention a deeply 
interesting but most melancholy loss, which occurred 
during the prevalence of this terrible storm on the 
night of the 2Gth of November, 1703. During that 
night the first Eddystone Lighthouse, which was 
commenced in 1090, was swept into the sea, with all 
its occu])ants. including the unfortunate architect, 
Henry AVinstunley, a country gentleman of Littlebury, 
in Essex, who had ox})ressed a desire to be in the 
lighthouse " during the greatest storm that could 
blow under the face of Heaven," so confident was he of 
its entire soliuity ajid strength. Curiously enough, he 
hfld his presumptuous wish fulfilled in a manner he 
little anticipated. 

AVRECKS. 1<)9 

From first to last tlie storm appears to have con- 
tinued for fourteen clays, and to have moved upwards 
from the southern hemisphere prostrating and destroying 
-everything in its awful and irresistible career. When 
at its worst the wind is described as producing a hoarse, 
roaring, heavy sound, like rolling thunder, whilst the 
unnatural darkness added to the horrors of the dreadful 
scene. Some writers state that the storm was accom- 
panied by terrific thunder and lightning, but this is 
either expressly denied, or not alluded to at all by 
•others. The wind, and the ivind alone, worked the 
whole of the fearful mischief recorded. 

One of the earliest calamities reported to have 
happened in the Downs — though not attributable to 
the power of either the winds above or the seas below — 
occurred about four years before the great storm, that 
is, in 1699. On the 9th of September in that year, 
H.M.S. ' Carlisle,' a fourth-rate man-of-war, was quietly 
riding at anchor opposite Deal with all her officers, 
men, and stores aboard — probably waiting for a fair 
wind — when she suddenly blew up, and in a few 
minutes went to the bottom carrying everything 
and everybody with her. Not a life, nor one single 
thing belonging to tlie unfortunate ship, except a 
few spars and broken timbers which floated, was 
saved. How the mishap was brought about — 
whether by accident, or from malice or from some 
devilish spirit of wholesale rer-'^'^e — of cour«o will 
never be known in this world, as " not one soul was 
left to tell the tale." 

Amongst others, of the many grave charges brought 
against lae Lords of the Admix aity in the " good (?) 


old days when George the Third was King," a 
constant and very common one was the danc;eroti!> 
condition — from age and disrepair — of the vessels 
generally employed for use in the Transport Service : 
and hundreds of our soldiers and sailors met with 
untimely deaths by the frequent foundering of these 
floating coffins. The Lords of the Admiralty of that 
period seemed to think that anijtliing would do, no 
matter how old or rotten, for military transports ; and. 
as it appeared to be nobody's business to look into 
the matter, nobody, of course, troubled himself at all 
about it. and the evil was thus quietly suffered to go 
oh unheeded and unchecked. 

It was entirely owing to the courage and j)erseverance 
of the late gallant Earl of Dundonald (who as Lord 
Cochrane represented AVestminster in Parliament) that 
the question was brought before the country, over and 
over again, by his Lordship, in bis place in Parliament, 
of the excessive corruptions which existed in every 
department of the Admiralty of that period, and he did 
his best to institute many mucli-necded reforms ; but. 
as reforms and reformers in tliosc days were not in 
fashion. Lord Cochrane only brought upon himself the 
implacable hatred of the Governiiicnt party, who did 
not scruple to use the meanest and most infamous 
measures, in which every sort of niisre}»resentation and 
falsehood were pre-eminent, and were openly employed, 
in order to crush a high-minded, noble-hearted man. 
merely l)ecause he tried his best to correct a grievous 
and crying abuse of public patronage and jiublic money 
l)y the introduction of moderate reforms, but which, 
however, just then, did not at all suit the views or 

WRECKS. 171 

desires of a corrupt and time-serving Administra- 

Amongst the many losses of ships and soldiers vohich 
were continually occurring during the long war, owing 
to the transports being utterly unseaworthy, the 
following may be mentioned as a peculiarly sad 
instance : — 

The 'Anrom: 

It is recorded that on the 21st December, 1805 
(exactly two months after the victory of Trafalgar), an 
Admiralty transport, the 'Aurora,' was proceeding 
down Channel with several hundred soldiers on board. 
It is quite possible — indeed, highly probable — that she 
was one of the genuine Admiralty type, that is, old, 
rotten, and totally unseaworthy, and therefore quite 
unfit for any service. In a thick fog this most un- 
fortunate ship managed to run on to the outer edge of 
the Goodwin Sands, and in a short time became a total 
wreck, when 300 of her passengers, and the whole of 
her crew, perished with her. Had she been sound and 
strong she might well have held on until help arrived 
from the shore, but, being old and w^orn out, the waves 
very soon had the mastery, and she went to pieces at 
once. There were no lifeboats at Deal and Walmer 
in those days (or, indeed, anywhere else), the Kentish 
" hovellers " alone doing the work of saving life and 
assisting shipwrecked crews. 

* For lull [larticulars of this i>ulitical persecution see 'Auto- 
biography of a Seaman,' by the late Earl of Dundnnalii, a work 
that every F.nglishnjan should "read, mark, learn, and inwardly 


The 'British Queen.: 

On the 17th December, 1814, the ' British Queen,' an 
Ostentl packet, lost her steering in a thick fog and 
snow-storm, and ran into the Sands. Her signals of 
distress were, of course, not seen, and it is supposed 
that sbe had no gun, or guns, on board. At any rate, 
no signals were heard on shore, and consequently no 
help arrived, and she completely broke up and entirely 
disappeared in a very short time. Every soul on board 
perished, and nothing of any kind was saved but a 
portion of her stern shewing her name ; by this 
melancholy relic she was recognised, and her terrible 
fate became known. But for this bit of timber she 
would have been included in that saddest and most 
touching of all " black lists '" — "Never heard of." 

The ' Shepherdess: 

This vessel, a lirig b(!longing to Bideford, struck on 
the Sands in the Gull Stream on the 20th January, 
1844, and quickly became a wreck, when the crew took 
to the rigging. Several Deal and Eamsgate luggers 
put off to her assistance, l)nt could not approach her on 
account of the extreme violence of the breakers. At 
length the ' Earl Gray,' a Deal lugger, at very great 
hazard, managed to get through the surf, and with the 
trreatest difHculty rescued several of the crew, whilst 
two other Deal 1)oats, the ' Poll ' and the ' Sparrow,' 
after much waiting, contrived to save two more, and 
eventuallv all were rescued. But it was altogether a 

WPiECKS. 17; 

work of infinite danger and hazard, as the sea was 
running too high to make a rope fast, and these men 
were saved by either jumping into the luggers as they 
rushed by, or were hauled on board, by a rope, through 
the boiling surf. The men were saved not a moment 
too soon, for when the tide rose the ' Shepherdess ' 
floated off, and immediately sank in deep water. For 
this great service the Treasury awarded the sum of 
£34 between the three boats. The ' Earl Grray ' received 
£18 between thirteen men, and the other two £8 eachy 
or £16 between twelve men — not a very magnificent 
reward, certainly, for the richest country in the world 
to bestow for such a noble and desperate piece of true 
courage and humanity. The French Government, about 
the same time, bestowed 400 francs upon the crew of a 
small Deal boat for saving the crew of a French fishing 
lugger in extreme danger on the Sands. 

Unknown Wrechs. 

It is no uncommon circumstance for a vessel to be 
driven on the Sands during the night in a heavy gale 
of wind, and there go to pieces before any signal can 
be made, or, even if made and seen, before any help can 
arrive ; for the Goodwins, aided by the winds and the 
waves, make short work of their victims when once 
fairly in their clutches. The name and country of 
such a hapless ship will be alike unknowm, and the 
fact of her loss will be only ascertained the next 
morning by a few floating spars or by fragments of 
timber left on the Sands at low water. Such a fearful 
catastrophe happened on the night of November 14th 


1850, when two small vessels, which were known to 
have passed Eamsgate in the evening, stranded on the 
Sands in a gale of wind, and were totally lost, whilst 
ail on board perished. Their names were unknown, and 
nothing was found to tell the sad story but a few 
floating S2)ars and broken timbers. 

The ' Marif Wrlijlit: 

On the Gth March, 1851, this vessel, a new brig of 
.300 tons, owned by her captain, was making her first 
voyage, when she was totally lost on the inside of the 
Bands, with her captain iind tv\'o of her crew, seven 
having been saved by the Ramsgate hovelling lugger 
' Buffalo Gal,' which at the same time cleverly managed 
to save the Broadstair's lifeboat, which had been 
badly stove during her battle with the elements. The 
' Buffalo Gal ' returned to Eamsgate in great triumph 
with the rescued men and the crew of the lifeboat all 
on board, and the damaged lifeboat in tow. The 
circumstances of this wreck were of a peculiar and 
most melancholy character. The captain was the 
owner of the brig, and this was her first voyage. The 
captain had only recently lost his wife, and was 
proceeding to meet his only daughter at Southampton ; 
but the first intelligence the poor girl received on the 
subject was that botli licv father and his ship were 
lost on the terrible Goodwins. 

WRECKS. 17.') 

The ' EJeanore.' 

This was a French schooner which, on the 8th of 
Novemher, 1853, at ten at night, was driven ashore 
near the North Sand Head. On the alarm beintc 
given, the steamer ' Samson,' with the lifeboat ' North- 
nmherland ' in tov/, at once started, and on reach ng 
the wreck they found three diggers had already 
arrived on the scene, and had anchored near the 
schooner, but could not approach her owing to the 
terrific seas breaking over her. The steamer towed 
the boat up into position to windward, where they let 
go their anchor, and veered down to the wreck ; but, 
unfortunately, the anchor would not hold, and came 
home, as the term is. Again the steamer towed up the 
boat, and again the anchor missed, and came home,' but 
not before the lifeboat crew managed to throw lines 
■on board the wreck, which, however, the crew failed to 
make fast. Two successive seas now filled her and 
swept her away from the schooner, and threw her 
among the breakers on the face of the Sand ; but, as 
the tide flowed, she got off under canvas and again 
floated. A third time the lifeboat was towed up, and 
a third time tried hard to c;et alonsfsidc, but was attain 
filled and driven off, whilst the anchor again failed to 
hold. The lifeboat was then driven violently away to 
leeward, and lost all sight of the wreck, wliicdi im- 
mediately afterwards rapidly broke up and went to 
2)ieces. The captain, in a state of nudity, swam to the 
nearest of the three luggers, the * Ondine,' and was 
rescued. The crew were all lost, but tlic one- 


passenger on board was saved almost by a miracle. 
He was found by the lugger ' Charlotte Anne,' the 
next day, lashed to a piece of the wreck, perfectly 
insensible and lying on part of the Sand, then dry. 
Without a moment's hesitation the crew launched their 
small boat through the surf, and rescued the passenger. 
But to return through the surf on that side was im- 
possible. The small boat was, therefore, dragged over 
the dry sand, and launched on the other, or lee, side of 
the Sand, when the half-dead man was transferred to 
the lugger, and brought safely to Eamsgate. The 
master of the ' Ondine,' one of the three luggers, after- 
wards made this very characteristic statement: — "I 
wished myself at home more than once, for I never saw 
anything so frightful all the times I have been near 
wrecks. The dark night, with such a terrible sea ! 
The cries for help of the poor men ! The roaring and 
smoke of the steamer! Tlw lifeboat ashore on the 
Sands, and every sea breaking sheer over and over her, 
tried our heart-strings, I do assure you ! And at day- 
light we could see nothing but the raffle of the wreck ; 
and so we came away ! " They had done all that high 
courage and matchless endurance could accomplish, — 
two were saved, the rest lost, and the ship had gone to 
pieces — verily, their noble work was done, and so thejr 
" came away." 

A PiitcJi Srlidoiirr. 

On the 4th February, 185"), tliis vessel got on the 
Sands in a fearful blinding snow-storm. 

The 'Northumberland,' in tow of the 'Samson/ 


started to her aid ; but, being unable to find her, was 
cruising about, when she met with the schooner's boat 
with the crew on board rowing hard for the ' Gull ' 
lightship. The lifeboat at once took them all in, 
and they were ultimately landed in safety. 

In both the cases just related the lifeboat owes its 
saving powers to the great lielp given by the steam- 

It has been thought that steam-tugs cruising about 
the Sands, should always be instructed to give tow to 
luggers and other craft they may chance to meet, and 
so help them on their way. By this means an immense 
service would undoubtedly be done, for it is very well 
known that luggers, and even lifeboats too, are often 
utterly powerless to make headway in the teeth of a 
fearful gale, with a contrary rolling sea beating them 
back at every step. At such a moment the help of a 
powerful steam- tug would be simply invaluable, so far 
as the saving of life and property are concerned. 

The ' Queen of the Tgne.' 

This vessel went, end on, on to the Sands, near the 
• Gull ' lightship, on the 2nd of May, 1855, in a very 
heavy gale of wind. The Deal lifeboat at once put 
oft', and, after great difficulty, succeeded in saving 
the whole of the crew. But this was not all, for, on 
the rising of the tide, the ship was by great skill, and 
with the assistance of steam-tugs, at last pulled off 
into deep water, with not more damage to her hull 
than might have been expected from severe straining 
and beating auout ; and thus both ship and cargo were 



saved by energetic and clever management, and prompt 
and ready action. 

The ' Vmht: 

In tlie terrific storm which is recorded to have 
raged throughout the whole of the first week of 
January, 1857, many serious wrecks took place on 
the Goodwins, accompanied, more or less. l)y loss of 
life and property ; one of the most melancholy of these 
having been the mail steamer ' Violet,' which, on the 
5th January. 1857, was totally lost, and all on board, 
with a rapidity perfectly appalling, the entire work of 
destruction having been accomplished in less than four 
hours ! This vessel had been seen to go " on the 
Sands " by one of the lightships, which immediately 
fired rockets to give notice that a ship was in distress. 
The steamer ' Aid,' with the Kamsgate lifeboat in tow, 
at once started, reaching the Sands at three in the 
morning ; but, after carefully searching up and down, 
could see nothing of the wreck anywhere, owing 
to the thick darkness and driving snow. They 
waited till daylight, when they discovered a part of a 
nifist ^^''^Ving out of the Sands, but could see nothing 
of either vessel or crew, and were just sailing away, 
when they encountered a life-buoy with three dead 
bodies laslied to it — all that remained of tlie un- 
fortunate ' Violet ' ! These pour fellows were silently 
lifted on board the lifeboat, reverently covered with a 
sail, and so conveyed to Kamsgate for proper burial. 

Mr. Giliuure thus graphically refers to the sad 
story : — ''She (the ' Violet ') left Ostend about eleven the 

WKECKS. 1(1) 

previous night ; at two in the morning she struck mi 
the Goodwins ; a little after three there was no one 
left on board to ansAver the signals of the steamer and 
lifeboat that came out to their rescue ; at seven there 
was nothing to be seen of the 'Violet,' crew, or 
passengers, but a portion of one mast, and the life-buoy 
picked up by the lifeboat, with the three pale corpses 
attached to it sleeping their last sleep under the life- 
boat sail. Such are the Goodwin Sands 1 " 

The ' Gutenberg.'' 

But, perhaps, one of the most shocking and de- 
plorable wrecks that ever occurred on the Goodwins 
was the loss of the 'Gutenberg.' a German brig of 17U 
tons, and twenty-five of her hands, together with a 
Deal pilot named Henry Pearson, out of a total crew 
of thirty, on the night of the 1st January, 1860. I 
apply the words " shocking " and " deplorable " to this 
terrible disaster because — as far as human probabilities 
go — this sad loss of life ought never to have occurred 
at all, because it ought to have been, and might have 
been, easily prevented but for the demon "Koutine " — 
a demon which seems to obstruct and hinder much of 
the public work in this highly educated and eminently 
enlightened, but board-ridden, country of ours. " But," 
exclaims the intelligent reader, '' it is difficult to 
conceive how official ' routine ' can be in any way 
connected with a wreck on the Goodwin Sands : how 
is it even possible ? " It is quite possible, however, as 
the melancholy event proved, only too truly ; and I will 
explain, as briefly as may be, how it came about. 


On the 1st January, 1860, the ship named got on the 
Sands in a thick fog accompanied by a bliading 
hurricane of wind and snow. Her signals of distress 
were seen at Deal, hut not, apparently, at Kamsgate, or 
by either of the lightships, owing to the thickness of 
the fog. One of the principal boatmen at Deal, 
Stephen Pritchard by name, knowing that Henry 
Pearson, a Deal pilot, was on board, instantly tele- 
graphed, at half-past six o'clock p.m., to Stephen Penny, 
another boatman at Kamsgate, to send out the large 
lifeboat (as there was none at Deal at that period) in 
tow of the powerful steam-tug 'Aid,' always kept 
there with steam up in readiness for immediate duty. 
The message was sent because it was found impossible 
to launch any of the large Deal luggers, in conse- 
quence of the tremendous sea then rolling in from the 
north-east upon the beach.* Penny and a dozen brave 
fellows instantly responded and manned the lifeboat, 
but, on applying to the harbour-master for leave to 
go, and for the steam-tug to tow them, permission, 
in each case, was i)eremi')torilif refused ! And why ? 
Because that worthy official had received no signal 
from either of the lightships of any vessel being in 
distress on the Sands ; and therefore, until he received 
such signal — or, in other words, until he had been 
'• officially informed," according to the due requirements 
of "routine" — neither steamer uor lifeboat would be 

* Tlio ' Alltidii,' a splendid Deal lugger, was totally destroyed a 
f'.'W years ago in an attempt to launch her during a lieavy grtic 
blowing in shore; she was capsized, tlirown back upon the Iwach, 
ami con plctcly biolccn tu pieces, her ciev escaping only with the 
greatest (lifiicidty. 

WllECKS, 181 

3\llowed to stir, although he knew perfectly well, uii- 
-(officially, that thirty-one unfortunate fellow-creatures 
were in the most immiuent peril of their lives, and when 
every live minutes was of vital importance. Again 
and auain did Penny and his gallant crew implore and 
heg for leave to go. At eight o'clock p.m. and again at 
nine, two other, and still more urgent, telegrams were 
received from Deal ; hut the ohstinate official, in his 
htupidly hlind worship of " routine." still refused, 
addinc: this time, with insolent mocker ". " If you must 
go, go in your own luggers," well knowing, as a 
practical seaman, that the luggers could not have 
reached a ship on the Sands, as there was not water 
•enough to float them, and the small dingey hoats would 
have been instantly swamped in the broken water, 
where nothing biit a lifeboat could live for a moment. 

At length, after three hours of painful and anxious 
waitin<:r bv Penny and his comrades, the South 
Sand Head lightship appeared to have discovered the 
wreck through the driving snow, and instantly tired 
one of her guns — the '"official'" signal duly required 
by the genius '' Koutiue." Then, but not till then, at a 
quarter-past nine p.m. — thus losing three most precious 
hours — did the harbour-master send ofi' both tus^ and 
lifeboat. And with what result ? Just in time to 
hear the dying shrieks of the last of the twenty-six of 
that lonsj-sufl'ering crew of thirty-one. live havinij, in 
<;heer desperation, already taken to their only boat 
left. They were, almost by a miracle, ultimately 
rescued by the life-boat. 

Now, if ever twenty-six lives were wantonly sacrificed 
to blind adherence to a rule as stupid as it was mis- 


cliievons, these poor fellows most certainly were. Could 
no discretion be allowed the harbour-master in the face 
of any such really desperate circumstances ? Oh, dear^ 
no ! the sapient official rule was that, until he received 
the " official " signal, from one or other of the light- 
ships, of a vessel being in distress, the lifeboat was 
not to go out, although the harbour-master himself, 
and all the neighbouring coasts, were thoroughly well 
aware that, at the very moment, a ship and her crew 
were actually perishing almost before his eyes. Such 
obstinacy is therefore all the more reprehensible and 
unpardonable when it comes to be a question of either 
life, death, or routine ! It should be stated that neither 
the lifeboat nor the steam-tug then belonged to the 
National Life-Boat Institution. 

A finely written leading article (from the brilliant 
pen of Mr. G. A. Sala, I believe) in one of the daily 
papers of that period, in reference to this sad story, 
concludes with the following incisive lines : — " Talk of 
routine — talk of red tape — talk of the vices inseparable 
from a little brief authority ! Are men no better than 
mere machines of wood and iron, to be propelled in 
grooves and kept within immutable circles ? Was it for 
an individual with the death-cry of twenty-six mari- 
ners almost ringing in his ears, to pronounce their doom 
and order that they should be left slowly to perish,, 
because he was afraid to contravene a rule laid down 
l)y his employers in Austin Friars ? If this be duty we 
infinitely prefer that sort of insubordination which at 
some moment of supreme necessity violates every law 
except the sublime one of nature, and dares to be offi- 
cially 2-1 the wrong in order to be manfully in the right."" 

WRECKS. 183 

The whole of this storv has been cleverly woven into 
a very well- written and touching poem by the authoress 
of ' The End of the Pilgrimage,' under the name of 
' Koutine : a Tale of the Goodwin Sands,' in which the 
events are all truthfully and carefully detailed with 
much graphic power, and the harbour-master is sup- 
posed to be punished for his obstinate indiflereuce by a 
most fearful vision. 

It is very gratifying to record that a large public 
subscription was raised for the widow and family of 
Pearson, the unfortunate Deal pilot who was lost in 
the wreck, the Eector of Walmer acting as treasurer. 

The ' Uoni Sverne.' 

The loss of this vessel, a fine Norwegian barque, 
may be cited like that of the ' Violet,' previously 
referred to, as an instance of the rapidly destroying 
power of the Sands. The writer was an eye-witness 
of all the circumstance^ of this wreck, which were 
carefully noted. This vessel went bow-on on to 
the South Calliper, on the lltli October, 1870, in a 
heavy south-easterly gale, about 4 o'clock in the after- 
noon, in consequence of bad or ignorant steering, and 
there she stuck fast in an upright position, with all her 
spat's standing. At 10 next morning she was observed 
by the writer through a powerful telescope. She had 
apparently sustained no further damage than the loss 
of her foretop-gallant-mast, broken oft' at the cap 
during the night, and the breaking of one of her main- 
topsail lifts, causing the yard to fall over. A very 
thick fog then came on and nothing more could be 


seen of the barque until about 2 o'clock p.m., when a 
heavy gale sprang up and the fog lifted, but not a 
vestige of the unfortunate craft was anywhere visible. 
She had evidently gone to pieces and entirely disap- 
peared some time between 10 and 2. From the fact 
that her stern was off the sand, it appeared just possible 
— at least to an outsider — that she might have been 
pulled off by the aid of a couple of powerful steam -tugs 
and floated off again before serious damage had been 
done to the hull ; but nothing of the kind was even 
attempted, and the barque was lost accordingly. 

A clever and interesting picture was executed 
of this vessel, exactly as she appeared hard and 
fast on the Sands, to the extreme accuracy of which 
the writer can bear ready testi"'^oriy. It Avas 
(lainted by Mr. C. E. Eicketts, and was exhibited at 
the Eoyal Academy in 1872. with the title of " A Deal 
Lugger and the ' Sabriua,' Walmer Lifeboat, assisting 
the ' Honi Sverne,' wrecked on the Goodwin Sands." 

One more instance of this rapid and wholesale 
destruction will be related which occurred about fifteen 
years ago to a splomlid American clipper, which came 
sailing up the Straits in a stiff south-westerly gale, 
\\i:h all her canvas set, including even her royals. 
She was seen by several Deal boats which were cruising 
about, and her captain was strongly urged to shorten 
sail instantly and take a pilot, as he was in great danger. 
But tje advice was recklessly disregarrled, and the ship 
went on the Sands accordingly, as might have been 
expected, and in an incredibly short time was totally 
lost v.ith nearly tvery sonl on board. The captain, 
when warned of his extreme peril iii carrying so much 

\\i;i:('Ks. 18.") 

sail in such a heavy gale, and that, too, in the face of 
the terrible Goodwins, replied, not very politely, that he 
knew his own business best, and wanted neither advice 
nor pilot, and therefure — as miglit readily have been 
expected under the circumstance? — his life, his crew, 
and his ship, were the forfeit of his obstinate vanity. 

Tlie ' Mia Madre.' 

On the 2r)th August, 1879, an Austrian barque 
of this name, laden with wheat, was stranded on the 
west edge of the Northern Sand, and although no 
less than four steam-tugs, the Deal lifeboat, and 
several Deal luggers were assisting her, yet during 
the night all hopes of getting her afloat were dis- 
appointed ; the crew were thereupon taken off. She 
remained eight days on the Sands, during which time as 
much of her cargo as possible was got out and landed 
by " hovellers' " boats, but on the 2nd of September 
she was observed to be on fire, and v\as soon totally 
destroyed. How a nearly empty ship, with no one on 
board, could possibly have " caught fire " is a mystery 
so peculiar that the less said about it, perhaps, the 



This was a German vessel (bound for New York 
from Bremen) which grounded on the South Spit, 
near the East Goodwin Lightship, on the 28th Decem- 
ber, 1879. The Deal and Kingsdown lifeboats instantly 
"ent to her assistance. The Deal lifeboat, the 'Van 


Kook,' crossed the Sands through a fearfully heavj 
sea and gale of wind, and succeeded at immense risk in 
rescuing the crew, nineteen in all, by means of ropes. 
The Kingsdown boat remained by. ready to help if re- 
quired. The masts of. the ill-fated vessel soon fell over, 
and in a short time she went to pieces, and her cargo- 
of petroleum w^as, of course, lost. 

The extreme danger of this rescue was most graphi- 
cally told by the chaplain of ]\Iissions to Seamen, at 
Deal, in the pages of a local ^publication. He says : — 

" The barque's main and mizen-masts were gone, and 
the crew were clinging to the weather bulwarks, while- 
sheets of solid water flew over them. The Deal life- 
boat, the ' Yan Kook,' fetched a little to windward and^ 
dropping auclior, veered down to the barque. ... If 
the cable parted and the lifeboat struck the ship with 
full force, not a man would have been left to tell the 
tale ; or, if they got to leeward of the barque, the crew 
of the wreck would have been lost, as the lifeboat could 
not again have worked to weather to drop down as 
before. No friendly steam-tug Mas at hand in this case- 
to help the lifeboat to windward in the event of failure 
in this first attempt, and both tlie crews were well 
aware of the stake at issue, and that this was the last 

" But the lifeboat crew . . . concentrated their 
energies in getting close enougli to the wreck to throw 
their line, and yet to keep far enough off to ensure 
safety. They were now nearly beaten by the tremen- 
dous seas breaking into and' over them, and no other 
boat could have lived in such a cauldron of seething,, 
raging waters. Notwithstanding the self-emptying 

WRECKS. 187 

power of the woudrous boat, the seas broke into her in 
such quick succession that she remained full up to her 
thwarts, and the men were repeatedly thrown down, 
and had to hold on for dear life. ... At last the 
' throw-line ' was got on board, and the crew "svere 
drawn into the lifeboat, through the hoiling wares, by 
ones or twos, as the seas permitted. , . . So astonished 
were the rescued Germans at the submerged condition 
of the lifeboat that some actually wanted to return to 
the perishing ship . . . but the gallant lifeboat, with 
its freight of thirty-four sonls, plunged through the 
surf for home. One of the rescued crew had before 
been twice saved by this same lifeboat, and encouraged 
his comrades by relating his own deliverance. ... A 
service of such exceptional risk, gallantry, and success, 
deserves exceptional notice, and, if possible, exceptional 
reward. This makes 130 lives w^hich have been saved 
by the 'Van Kook,' under the command of the gallant 
coxswain, Eobert Wilds." 

On the same day (i.e., the '28th December, 1879) it 
unfortunately happened that there were three vessels 
on the Sands at once. The crew of one took to their 
boats, and, abandoning their ship to her fate, got 
safely round into Margate. The other, a schooner, 
supposed to have been Danish, disappeared altogether 
in a very short time, and was totally lost with all 
hands on board ; nothing was saved, nothing was even 
found, not a timber, not a spar — all gone ! The lifeboat 
had gone to her rescue, but the ill-starred vessel had 
utterly disappeared before the arrival of the lifeboat. 
The third was the German ship ' Leda ' just referred to. 



Thii? vessel — a steamer — grounded on the North 
Goodwin on the 17th of January, 1880, during a 
very thick fog ; hut, hy a good and immediate use of 
her engines, she was fortunately backed off into 
deep "water, and the devouring Sands were, for once, 
cheated of their prey. This proves the prodigious 
advantage a steamer possesses over a sailing-ship; for, 
had it not been for her engines, the ' Calma ' could not 
possibly have moved herself in any way, and would, 
therefore, most probably have shared the fate of many 
another " tall and stately ship " when stranded on the 
Goodwins. A remarkable instance of this will be 
found in the case now to be related, where a sailing- 
,shij) got off twice, but was lost at last. 

TJie ' Shannon.^ 

This vessel — a large collier brig from Shields — 
went ashore on the East Goodwin, near the light- 
ship, on the oth of February, lt>80. She, however, 
drifted off into deep water, but unfortunately, from 
the extreme violence of winds and waves, she was 
again driven end-on. and again, a second time, was 
able to float off; and the crew were congratulating 
themselves on their escape, when wind and tide once 
more, and for the third time, proved altogether too 
strong for the ill-fated ship, and she was again thrown 
i)n tbe bank with great force. And this proved the end 
of the cruel and unequal contest, for she soon became 

WRECKS. 18^ 

a total wreck, broke up, and disappeared altogether. 
The Deal lifeboat succeeded in reaching her just in 
time, and brought off her crew ; but everything 
belonging to them or the ship was, of course, lost 

A Norwegian barque got on the Sands the next day, 
near the same spot, but after much effort she was 
floated off again, and so escaped certain destruction, 
thanks to the prompt and energetic assistance she 
received from the shore, more especially from the Deal 
hovellers in their fine luggers. 

The ' Paul Boyton.' 

On the 19th September, 1880, a large Canadian 
vessel of this name, of 1,100 tons, bound from 
Baltimore to Hamburg with maize, drove on to the 
outer edge of the East Goodwin. Her situation 
was soon perceived by the ' Gull ' and the East 
Goodwin lightships, and these immediately made the 
usual signals to the shore. The Eamsgate tug ' Aid,' 
v.ith the ' Bradford ' lifeboat in tow, together with the 
Deal and Walmer lifeboats, were soon on the spot 
lending their valuable aid. Efforts were made to 
lighten her by throwing her cargo overboard and by 
vigorous pumping ; but, as the water gained rapidly, 
and as it appeared to experienced and intelligent eyes 
that there was no chance of saving her, the crew were 
taken off in the Deal lifeboat. The captain and mate, 
however, refused to leave the ship, and the Piamsgate 
lifeboat, therefore, remained at anchor close by, and 
eventually, finding fourteen feet of water in the hold. 


the captain and mate signalled to be taken off by tbe 
Ramsgate lifeboat. This was at last accomplished, but 
not without very considerable difficulty, as the sea was 
running dangerously high at the time. The lifeboat 
passing under the ship's stern, the two officers lowered 
themselres down from the end of the spanker-boom 
into the boat, which at once left the wreck and was 
taken in tow by the tug ' Aid,' and reached Eamsgate 
in safety. The captain was stated to be a very young 
man, and that he was anxious to show himself " smart " 
by making a quick voyage ; that he had never signalled 
for a pilot at Dungeness; that he had never been 
through the Straits but once before, and then in charge 
of a pilot ; that he had no proper charts to guide him ; 
that he was quite ignorant of the peculiar set of the 
tides in those waters ; that he had neglected to take 
soundings ; and, lastly, that he seemed to be entirely 
unacquainted with the various lights and their special 
bearings ; and even the enormous buoy on the South 
■Goodwin failed to attract proper notice, although he 
admitted that he had 2)assed it quite close on the port 
side ! 

When the case of the ' Paul Boyton ' was subseipiently 
brought into the Wreck Commissioners' court, Mr. 
Eothery, the Commissioner, in giving judgment 
remarked that " the vessel had not been navigated with 
proper or seaman-like care .... and that numbers 
ai vessels were lost by captains continuing their course 
recklessly in order to make quick passages .... and 
cargoes were thrown away, and the lives of seamen 
risked, because the master wished to shovr what a 
/smart man he was, and how quickly he (;ompleted his 


Toyage." If there are many such as the captain of the 
^ Paul Boyton ' — and it is to be feared that there are, 
indeed — can it be a matter of surprise that there are 
frequent wrecks on the Goodwins, or on any other 
similarly dangerous sand-banks, where the most 
accurate knowledge and the most careful steering *arc 
alike required to escape destruction ? 

And yet here we have an instance of a very young 
man steering through one of the most dangerous spots 
in all England ^vholly without experience, without 
even a knowledge of the lights surrounding these 
treacherous w^aters, ignorant of the very peculiar set of 
the tides, with no proper charts, and neglecting to 
take soundings, and even to notice the huge South 
Goodwin buoy. Such utter reckless carelessness in the 
master of a ship becomes little less than criminal when 
carried to such an incredible and selfish extent, the 
more especially when the lives of the crew and the 
property of the owmers of the vessel are taken into 


On the 21st November, 1880, a fine Norwegian 
barque so named, during a tremendous gale from 
the E.N.E. with a fearfully heavy sea, went ashore 
early in the morning on the East Goodwin. In a 
surprisingly short time after her signals had been 
seen, and considering the great distance to be traversed, 
the Eamsgate lifeboat, in tow of the steam-tug as usual, 
managed to reach the wreck just in time to take oft' 
the master and ten hands (though not without great 


difficulty and danger, and landed them in safety), wlieni 
the unlucky ship soon went the desolate way of al! 
wrecks on the fatal Sands, when exposed to the 
irresistible and overpowering force of heavy gales and 
raging seas. 

The ' Ganrim' 

A terrific gale had been blowing on the 21st 
October, 1881, which had been severely felt, not on 
the Goodwins only, but in many parts of the country 
on shore as well, where very much serious damage 
had been done. Towards evening cf that day a large 
vessel, the ' Ganges,' loaded with railway iron for 
Calcutta, was observed beating down the Straits for 
the purpose of gaining the safety of the Downs, Avhen 
suddenly what sails she had set were entirely blown 
away, and she soon struck on the inside of the 
Sands just opposite Deal. The lightships' rockets- 
were quickly answered from Kamsgate, Deal. Walmer. 
and Kingsdown, and the lifeboats started at once. 
The Deal boat seems to have reached the wreck first, 
and, after the usual desperate elemental battle, these- 
brave-hearted '" storm warriors " got off the captain 
and part of the crew. Of the remainder, live tried to- 
save themselves in a boat, which, however, was almost 
instantly swamped, and four were drowned, but the 
tifth was thrown back, and somehow, by a singular 
chance, managed to reach the ship again. Strange to 
say, this very same man had been already twice wrecked 
on the Goodwins, and twice saved, this making the 
third time ; and another of the rescued crew had beeit 

WRECKS. 193 

in one of the wrecks of the previous year, and had been 
saved on that occasion also by the Deal lifeboat. 

It was reported that a steam tug called the 'Napo- 
leon,' which had the same night gone out to a vessel 
showing signals of distress, had not been again heard 
of, and it was feared that she and her crew of nine 
hands had been lost. Such is the every-day work on 
the Goodwin Sands ! 

We are solely indebted to the Eev. John Gilmore's 
delightful book ' Storm "Warriors ' * for the following 
interesting stories of wrecks on the Goodwins, which 
serve to illustrate very forcibly, not only the extra- 
ordinary and almost incredible endurance, but the 
marvellous skill and courageous daring invariably 
exhibited by the lifeboat men and hovellers when 
battling with winds and waves in their noble missions 
of mercy. 

The ' Effort,' from the Forth to Rotterdam, ran on 
the Sands, and was thrown over on her beam ends, with 
the tops of her masts right down on the Sands. This 
was seen from Eamsgate, and the steamer ' Aid,' with 
the lifeboat in tow, at once put off to her assistance. 
The 'Champion,' a splendid Eamsgate lugger of 22 
tons, had already gone out to the Sands some hours 
previously (on a " speculation " trip, as the weather 
looked " dirty "), and, on discovering the wreck, had 

* As all these accounts are here necessarily very greatly abridged, 
the reader is referred to the work itself for fuller details. See 
p. 13, footnote. 



rescued the crew in her small boat. But the great 
difficulty now was how to get back again, through the 
surf, to the lugger, and the most desperate efiforts were 
made again and again to do this ; but owing to a heavy- 
gale springing up, accompanied by snow and sleet, and 
a thick fog, it was impossible even to Jind the 
' Champion,' and, had not the lifeboat arrived just in 
the very " nick of time," and taken the lugger's boat in 
tow, the occupants must have inevitably perished, by 
being driven into the broken water on the edge of the 
Sand, where only a lifeboat could possibly live. As it 
was, both the boats were entangled for hours beating 
about the Sands in the darkness, fog, and sleet, until 
they came upon the ' Gull ' lightship, and, guided by 
its friendly rays, they soon fell in with the ' Champion ' 
and the steamer, and ultimately reached Eamsgate with 
the rescued crew in the lifeboat. These unfortunate men 
had passed the previous night in clinging to the 
rigging of the vessel, the heavy waves continually 
breaking over them, exposed to the snow and sleet 
driving with the full force of the howling tempest, 
nearly smothered with the surf and spray, and half 
frozen with the intense cold. The very thouf^ht of 
such suffering makes one shudder, and marvel greatly 
that flesh and blood could possibly stand such a fearful 

But the story of this terrible wreck, as illustrating 
the dangers of hovelling, is not yet finished; fur it vwis 
very nearly ending in the loss of six fine fellows, part of 
tho crew of the * Princess Alice ' (melancholy and sugges- 
tive name !), a magnificent hovelling lugger of Eamsgate, 
wbich had gone out shortly after the lifeboat with the 

WRECKS. 195 

intention of trying to save what they could from the 
wreck. On nearing the stranded shijo, the lugger 
anchored just outside the Sands, and sent in her smull 
boat, with six men, to see what they could find. 
Everything was washed out of the vessel, and the men 
•endeavoured to cut away the rigging, but, whilst so 
doing, the sky darkened, the tide rose rapidly, and a 
sharp snow-storm, accompanied by a heavy gale, came 
on, and so great was the danger that the men hurried 
to their small boat to regain the lugger, which was 
lying but a quarter of a mile off — aye, a quarter of a 
mile only, but unhappily, between the boat and the 
lugger, a fearful surf was now running with the tide, 
to enter which would be simply certain death. The 
men, therefore, tried to work their way through Trinity 
Bay for the Downs ; but it was fearful toil rowing 
in such water, and nothing but the most consummate 
skill of Penny, who was acting-coxswain, prevented the 
small boat from being swamped at any moment by the 
huge rollers. As it was, she was half full of water and 
only kept afloat by constant baling. At length they 
reached the Downs, and after much difficulty made 
themselves heard by a large American shij) riding at 
anchor ; but, from the very small size of the boat, the 
greatest danger and risk still existed of her capsizing, 
which would possibly have happened but for the ready 
and thoughtful tact by which the American crew 
managed to secure the boat by double lines, and ulti- 
mately the six men were hauled on board through the 
raging sea. The American captain was so amazed 
when he heard that these men had been beating about 
the Goodwins for many hours in such a cockle-shell of 

o 2 


a boat, that lie could hardly credit their statement — it. 
seemed to him so utterly impossible. 

The Portuguese Brig. 

Another remarkable story is told of the loss of a 
Portuguese brig, which had gone on the Sands, and 
there remained, hard and fast, in an upright position. 
With great difficulty, owing to the heavy beat of 
the sea and to the vessel rolling from side to side 
in the soft sand, the Kamsgate lifeboat succeeded in 
getting off her crew, thirteen in number ; but, when 
she attempted to get away herself from the dangerous 
vicinity of the wreck, she grounded heavily on a 
sand-bank almost within reach of either the hull or 
the spars of the brig. Had the wreck rolled over — 
as Jarman, the coxswain of the lifeboat, fully expected 
she would — and fallen on the lifeboat, the latter must 
have been crushed to pieces, and every soul on board 
would have perished — no earthly power could possibly 
have saved them. Providentially, however, that was 
not the case, and after a desperate struggle for many 
hours, during which the lifeboat grounded over and 
over again, the gallant crew at last got clear ; but 
having, in the darkness, missed the steamer, they 
managed to sail back to Piamsgate with the shipwrecked 
crew safe on board, where they arrived early in the 
morning, and were followed shortly rJter by the steamer. 
The captain and crew having been under the painful 
impression that the lifeboat and all on board were lost, 
were astonished beyond measure — and not a little 
delighted — to see the lifeboat already (quietly lying at 

WRECKS. 197 

lier moorings in the harbour, and to find the crew all 
safe and well. 

The ' Mcif 


A schooner of 170 tons, laden with coals, bound 
from Shields to Dieppe, about Christmastide ran on 
the Sands at 4 in the morning, in a terrific gale of 
wind and a snow-storm, which had the efl'ect of hidinsf 
all the Goodwin lights. The schooner's signals havino- 
been seen, the Eamsgate lifeboat, in tow of the 
steamer, at once started on her glorious mission. On 
approaching, they found the wreck drifting over the 
Sands, and dragging her two anchors after her. The 
lifeboat men, however, boldly made for the wreck, 
threw their grappling-iron on board, and hauled up 
alongside for the shipwrecked crew to leap on board ; 
but, just at the very critical minute, a tremendous w'ave 
struck the boat and snapped the ropes of the grappling- 
iron like threads, and carried her aw^ay. Again she 
made for the wreck, again she ran alongside, strong 
ropes w^ere again made fast, and the suflering crew 
were again preparing to jump, but the fierce waves 
flew over the boat in such fearfully rapid succession 
that the crew were nearly beaten out of her by the 
sheer force and weight of the water, and bad she not 
been a lifeboat she must have been swamped and sunk 
long before. Stout hempen rope can stand a good 
deal, but nothing seemed able to resist such fearful 
odds in this battle of winds and waves, and the boat 
was again torn away from the shij)'s side a second 
time, leaving the miserable sailors in utter despair. 


One, however, did make a desperate leap, but only to 
strike tlie bow of the boat as she was drifting away, to 
fall back stunned and helpless into the sea, there to 
find a grave amongst the roaring, lashing breakers. 

The sagacious coxswain, Jarman, now determines, 
as the wreck is drifting slowly towards them, on the 
bold and daring expedient of anchoring the lifeboat 
right in her way, and so sheer alongside the schooner 
as sbe drifts past. The anchor is, therefore, let go„ 
the schooner comes lumbering on, and the greatest 
skill and address is now necessary to keep the lifeboat 
clear of the wreck and yet near enough to allow the 
unfortunate crew of four to jump aboard. It is a 
moment of intense and anxious suspense. The cable is 
paid out, she nears the wreck, and, as a wave lifts her 
close, three men out of the four leap on board. There 
is yet another — the captain — left on the wreck ; the 
lifeboat must go in again to his rescue. " Be ready," 
shouts the coxswain ; " 'tis your last chance ; jump for 
your life ! " And, as the boat sheers in for a moment, 
the captain makes a desperate leap, and falls headlong 
in amongst the men, and all the four are saved. 

Exactly as in the last case, the lifeboat missed the 
steam tug in the tempestuous darkness, and therefore 
the mizen and fore-sails were at once hoisted. This 
threw the boat so much over that her lee gunwale was 
under water, to the intense astonishment of the rescued 
Scotchmen, who, not knowing the wonderful properties 
of the lifeboat, declared they had never yet seen a 
boat that '' could sail under water," as this one did so 
read ly and so rapidly. As the storm still raged with 
unabated fury, the lifeboat sailed down the coast, under 

WRECKS. 19!) 

the protection of the cliflfs, for Dover Harbour, to 
be followed, very shortly after, by the steamer ; the 
captain rightly judging, from the state of the wind, 
that the lifeboat would seek the shelter of that refuge. 
Jarman and the crew ran to the pier-head to welcome 
the tug with a hearty cheer, and to show that they 
were all safe and sound. 

The ' Linda ' 

is the next wreck noticed by Mr. Gilmore, a brig 
of that name which was lost close to the South 
Sand Head lightshij) in a thick winter's fog — so 
thick that the crew could not even see the bright 
lamps of the lightship, and were quite unaware of 
their very near proximity until startled by the loud 
boom of her signal gun close to them, which was to 
give warning on shore that a ship was on the Sands. 
It was the old sad story with this unfortunate ship ; 
she had no sooner struck on the Sands than, over- 
whelmed by the terrific waves, she began to thump 
and bump with such extreme violence that she soon 
broke up. But the captain and four men got into the 
maintop and main rigging, whilst the remaining seven 
took refuge on the foremast. In a very short time the 
ship's timbers began to part, the foremast went "by 
the board" with a tremendous crash, hurling the seven 
poor fellows to instant death. Almost at the same 
moment the mainmast was carried away, and the five 
men were thrown with fearful violence in amongst the 
wreckage, by which both the captain's legs were broken. 
The men managed to cling to a broad piece of the poop 


deck, to whicli tliey lashed the unfortunate captain ; 
and on this frail raft, through the fog and darkness, 
half-smothered with spray and water, and nearly 
frozen with the cold, these ill-fated sailors drifted about 
for fifteen hours, until rescued by an Antwerp pilot-boat 
and taken into Deal, where they received every possible 
comfort and attention. But, it may be fairly asked, 
how is it that the lightship's signals were unheeded ? 
They were by no means unheeded, for the two life- 
boats from Deal and Walmer were quickly afloat, and 
speeding to the rescue, first having duly answered the 
signal After cruising round the Sands for a con- 
siderable period, during which the Walmer lifeboat 
was upset twice, but righted herself again immediately, 
they could find nothing, and see nothing whatever of 
the wa-eck, for the simple reason that the doomed ship 
had gone to pieces before their arrival, and the five 
men on the raft had drifted, in the stormy darkness and 
fog, far away to the east. The lifeboats therefore, 
finding there was nothing to be done, reluctantly 
returned to the shore from their dangerous and fruitless 

The * Amoor* 

Almost immediately after this lust wreck, the. 
Rams'ate lileboat and steamer were ordered out at 
seven in the morning to the Sands, in consequence 
of signals from the Gull Lightship. On nearing 
the Sands the steamer spoke the lightship, and ascer- 
tained that a large vessel was in distress close by. 
'ihe lifeboat men were not long in discovering her, 

WRECKS. 201 

and she ultimately proved to be a large brigantine 
laden witb coals, bearing the above name and hailing 
from Elswick, with a crew of Germans. The rescuers 
found her high and dry on a ridge of sand, as the tide 
had gone down. At eleven o'clock the previous night 
she had struck on this ridge, and had been forced and 
bumped by the waves a distance of nearly four miles 
through the shallow water — fortunately keeping in an 
upright position — whilst the crew expected every 
moment that she would get into deep water, well 
knowing that if she did so she would immediately sink, 
from the shattered and strained condition of her 
timbers. And thus, in an agony of suspense, clinging 
to the rigging, in the pitchy darkness and bitter cold, 
did these unfortunate and suflering men pass that 
dreary night, with tlie prospect of death before them 
at any moment. At length the ship grounded heavily, 
and in a short time began to break up ; but, as the 
tide had gone dow^n, the crew were able to descend 
on to the ridge of sand, and immediately set to work 
to construct a rait of the broken timbers, when they 
were shortly afterwards seen by the Gull Lightship. 
Signals w^ere at once made, by gun and rocket, for the 
lifeboat, which ultimately reached the Sands, when the 
anchor w'as forthwith let go, and three of the crew 
jumped out, and wading through the gullies, waist- 
deep in water, made their way to the raft, to the 
intense joy of the shipwrecked men. "A strange 
meeting/' says Mr, Gilmore, "on that w'ild and 
stormy morning, there, on the centre of the Goodwin 
Sands, where the waves had raged so furiously only a 
few hours before, and would in a few hours more rage 


as furiously again; there, where the shipwrecked men 
had expected to die a tragical death, the sailors and 
boatmen stand heartily greeting each other; the life- 
boat men rejoicing almost as much at being there 
. ready to save the poor sailors, as they at the prospect 
of being saved ! " Before leaving, the lifeboat men 
managed to climb into the broken ship, on the chance 
of saving any small valuables, but they found nothing 
but a crushed and shattered mass of timbers, and a 
poor shivering dog, which the good-hearted men, with 
that kindly feeling so jjeculiarly characteristic of 
sailors, managed to bring away with them and save. 

The difficulty now was to gain the lifeboat, anchored 
amongst the breakers, which were lifting her, and 
beating her about, with much violence ; for the ship- 
wrecked crew were terribly exhausted, having had to 
wade through several deep gullies already. Life-lines 
were therefore thrown from the boat, and several of 
the crew nobly jumped overboard to help the poor 
weak sufferers through the cold and freezing water ; 
and so, each helped by a lifeboat man, they were all 
at last got on board, to be shortly after received 
with shouts of hearty greeting, and treated with the 
tenderest care on landing at Eamsgate. It is specially 
pleasing to have to add that the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in his admiration ( f the 
generous and fearless conduct of the lifeboat men, 
presented to each the sum of ten shillings, a certificate 
of merit, and a silver medal. 

WEECKS. 203 

The ' Providenfia* 

One dart dreary morning in the month of December, 
1850, a ship was discovered by the men in the watch- 
house on li'amsgate pier, through the intervals of the 
driving snow and fog, to be aground on the South East 
Spit of the Goodwins. She turned out to be the 
' Providentia,' a Russian ship from Finland, 700 tons, 
from Newcastle to the Mediterranean, laden with coals. 
Shortly after she struck, eleven of her crew escaped in 
the long-boat, and fortunately reached Boulogne in 
safety, leaving the captain, the chief and second mate, 
and a boy on board. 

On nearing the wreck, which was rapidly breaking 
up, and surrounded by spars and wreckage, the life- 
boat, with great difficulty, got a line on board, but 
could not approach near enough for the crew to leap. 
The captain, however, tried to slide down the rope 
and so gain the lifeboat, but the furious waves soon 
knocked him off into the boiling sea. A life-buoy was 
instantly thrown to him from the boat, he seized it and 
got it under his arms, but was soon seen to drift away 
in the snow and fog, and given up for lost by the 
lifeboat men. The chief mate, in attempting to follow 
his example, was instantly drowned, but the second 
mate was more fortunate, and managed to reach the 
lifeboat, into which he was dragged by the powerful 
arms of two of the crew. Still there was the poor little 
boy ; the gallant lifeboat men declared they would not 
leave without him, although they well knew that the 
greatest danger and difficulty would be experienced in 


veering in to the -^-reck sufficiently near to rescue the 
boy, whose piteous cries went to the very hearts of 
these generous sailors. He was holding on to a fragment 
of the broken deckhouse when a tremendous sea flew 
over the wreck and washed the poor little fellow into 
the rolling breakers ; but the set of the tide carried him 
towards the boat, when, almost by a miracle, he was 
caught on a boat-hook and hauled into the boat in a 
state of the greatest exhaustion. He was soon brought to 
by the intelligent exertions of the men acting under the 
instructions issued by the Lifeboat Institution, and 
then carefully placed under a sail to keej) him as dry 
as possible. The escape of the lad was not a moment 
too soon, for the lifeboat had scarcely left the wreck 
when her remaining mast went over the side, the 
vessel at once broke up, and was soon after buried in 
the hungry Goodwins I The boat now sailed down the 
Sands nearly for two miles, anxious to recover the body 
of the captain, which, lashed to a life-buoy, they knew 
would not sink. AYhat was their unbounded astonish- 
ment to see, amongst the roaring breakers, the waving 
of arms, and to hear the shouting of a voice ! They 
steered at once for the spot, and there found the 
captain, who had been drifting about for hours, lashed 
to the life-buoy, in the bitter cold water below, with 
the freezing wind and snow above : and vet he was 
actually alive ! He was, after much skilful manage- 
ment of the boat, got on board, but in such an exhausted 
condition that he at once fainted. He. however, soon 
recovered, and managed to swallow a little rum, and 
was then able to tell the men that he was by birth a 
Piussian Finn. " This fact," Mr. Gilmore adds, " at once 

WKECKS. 205 

accounts for his wonderful powers of endurance in his 
long exposures to the beating of the waves, and the 
coldness of the water, for the Finlauders are the 
hardiest of sailors." 

TJie ' Aurora Borealis.' 

A Danish barque of this name, with a crew of ten, 
got on to the Sands, on the night of the 5th of January, 
1867, during a hitterly cold and driving snowstorm. A 
gun was heard from the Gull Lightship, and the Eams- 
gate lifeboat and steamer started to the rescue in an 
incredibly short time. They learnt from the lightship 
that a vessel was in distress somewhere down south- 
ward. Up and down the fatal Sands they sailed without 
success — they could see nothing of any vessel at all. 
Instead of quietly returning home, these brave and 
generous fellows determined to remain out all night and 
wait till day, so that no chance might be lost. The 
morning broke dull and cheerless, to find the gallant 
crew nearly frozen from the intense cold, and the waves 
constantly washing over the boat. They prosecuted their 
search, however, but still could find nothing, not so much 
as a floating spar. The unfortunate vessel had apparently 
broken up, and had been absorbed in the Sands, and her 
crew, no doubt, had been lost with her. Her name would 
never be known, but it may be amongst those recorded in 
' Lloyd's List ' under the short but melancholy and 
significant heading of " Missing." Some such thoughts 
as these might possibly have entered in the heads of the 
lifeboat crew; and they returned to Eamsgate thoroughly 
disappointed. The boat was, however, again started, 


almost immediately, with a fresh crew, except the 
coxswain and bowman, for another careful search, so 
great is the anxiety expressed by the men, remembering 
what a fearful night of storm and hurricane has past. 

On approaching the more exposed part of the Sands, 
the boatmen now manage to make out through the gloom 
a large vessel, which joroved to be the above-named 
barque, aground and heeled over, the sea flying com- 
pletely over her w^ith a tremendous roar. On approach- 
ing the wreck the lifeboat got into the broken water, 
which half buried her, and tossed her about in every 
direction, until she became almost unmanageable. 
They contrived, however, to get close to the ship, when 
an enormous wave fell down upon them and buried 
both boat and crew under water, driving her quite 
away from the ship. Anything but a lifeboat would, of 
course, have been immediately lost under such appalling 
circumstances, but the air-boxes brought her instantly 
to the surface, and the clearing valves at once emptied 
her of water. Again she was towed by the steamer, 
again she was alongside and preparing to receive the 
terrified shivering crew, when she was a second time 
driven bodily back by the terrific sea. Nothing 
daunted, the boat and her fearless crew was again, and 
for the tliircl time, towed into position, and again 
cautiously approached the wreck, only to be a third time 
beaten off by the ruthless waves. The steamer then 
boldly entered the broken water, threw out a tow rope, 
and again took the boat in tow, intending to sheer her 
right under the stern of the wreck ; but the steamer 
had a dangerous time of it, for the sea continued to 
break over her, and to deluge her deck with tons of 

WRECKS. 207 

water. On she went, however, but just as the lifeboat 
reached the wreck the strong tide and heavy sea, for the 
fourth time, whirls her away again, and the steamer, not 
without great difficulty, made her way out of the broken 
water. Positively determined not to lose the poor 
sufferers on the wreck, the cre^v one and all declared, 
" We will not go back without them ; " but, exhausted, 
wet through, and half frozen, the question is '•' What to 
do next ? " The steamer now comes on again to try to 
fire a rocket over the ship, but she is herself thrown on 
to the Sands this time, and had she not been a steamer 
and possessed of powerful engines w^hich enabled her to 
back off, she would in her turn have inevitably become a 
wreck. Thus the fifth attempt failed. The steamer 
now again took the boat in tow ; but not a word was 
spoken, the greatest anxiety and excitement prevailed, 
and whilst prej)aring for their sixth attempt, the nolle- 
hearted sympathy and determination of the lifeboat 
crew forgot w^eakness, cold, and exhaustion, everything 
indeed but their glorious errand of mercy ! " What, leave 
these poor fellows to perish before our very eyes ? No, 
please God, that shall never be said ! " So, after a short 
consultation, the plan now settled upon was to " charge " 
in upon the vessel, and throw the boat's anchor right 
in upon her deck ! A desperate scheme truly, and one 
that will either save all or lose all ! The lifeboat was no\v 
accordingly steered straight for the wreck, and hits her 
full end on, and almost leaps upon the vessel's deck ; 
the anchor was at once thrown on board, and the next 
sea, most fortunately, carried her off clear of the wreck : 
but the grappling iron is also throw^n on board and 
made fast, and between the two the boat is held 


sufficiently close for the crew to jump or be dragged 
into the lifeboat, but only by the efforts of the most 
determined and persevering patience, courage, and 
consummate skill combined. And thus, after a sixth 
attempt, the crew were all saved at last. The lifeboat put 
them on board the steamer, and they reached Earns - 
gate about 2.30 in the afternoon, to be greeted by loud 
and long cheers from the pier on seeing the flag flying 
at the lifeboat's masthead, a sign always adopted when 
a rescued crew is on board. 

In recognition of the extraordinary bravery displayed 
by the crew of the lifeboat, and their courageous 
endurance, the Board of Trade presented the generous 
and magnificent sum of a sovereign to each of the 
twelve men composing the crew ; a truly noble gift for 
such dangerous and desperate work, and well worthy of 
the richest maritime country in Europe ! The King of 
Denmark sent 200 rix dollars to be divided amongst the 
men, which, taking that coin at 4s. 6d. sterling, would 
give just £3 9s. per man. 

The ' MizjKih.* 

This was a schooner of Brixham. She was sunk 
near the North Sand Head, but the whole of her 
crew, eight in number, were rescued by the Eamsgate 
lifeboat on the day following the wreck of the ' Aurora 
Borealis ' last described, namely, the 6th of January, 
1867, making eighteen lives saved by this boat in two 
days. Noble and glorious work truly ! 

Thus far Mr. Gilmore. 

WRECKS. 209 

One of those very sad and mysterious occurrences 
which, unhappily, so often happen on the Goodwins, 
namely, the sudden and total disappearance of a vessel 
after she has struck, took place on the 30th Novemher, 
1888, when a large barque was seen from Deal beach 
to go ashore on the Sands about 9 o'clock a.m. The 
Kingsdown lifeboat was instantly manned and put off 
to the wreck, and did not return to the shore until 
nearly five hours afterwards. Although the boat 
cruised about round and round the spot, and made the 
most careful search in every direction, the crew could 
discover no traces ivhatever of the unfortunate vessel, 
not so much as a spar or a timber ! All they did find 
was an empty ship's boat ; but as this had no name on 
it, there was nothing to identify the lost ship ; and, 
as every soul on board had perished, her name and 
nationality will never probably be known for certain, 
and she will be entered in the melancholy list of 
" nameless wrecks." The amazingly rapid and sudden 
disappearance of this barque excited much curiosity, as 
there was an air of singular mystery about it, although 
such occurrences have before now frequently happened 
on these immense sandbanks; but, for a ship to be actually 
seen to strike, and then totally and bodily to disap^jear 
before even the lifeboat could reach her, is singular in- 
deed. She was seen to strike, and immediately to fall 
over, and is supposed to have broken up and sunk at once. 
The Dover Harbour tugs went out afterwards and made 
a careful search, but saw nothing, found nothing ! 

Although acts of high courage and unselfish bravery 
are common enough at all times when life is in danger 
in the neighbourhood of the Sands, yet the following 



instance of gallantry may be not out of place here. 
So recently as the 11th of February, 1889, during a 
blinding snowstorm, accompanied by a heavy squall 
of wind, distress guns fired from the East Goodwin 
Lightship were heard by a party of hovellers who were 
cruising off the Sands in their lugger the ' Hope ' of 
Deal. They immediately went in search, and soon fell 
in with a small ship's boat belonging to the barque 
' Leonidas,' which had got on the Sands, and had, 
together with both of her large boats, already broken 
up. The remaining boat contained the crew, fourteen 
in all, who were in a most pitiable condition, nearly 
frozen, wet through, and up to their knoo^ in water, 
with nothing before them but the prospect of a speedy 
death, as their small and leaky boat could not possibly 
have held out against the prevailing wind and sea very 
much longer. The unfortunate crew were quickly 
transferred to the ' Hope ' lugger, a service of danger 
and difficulty in which the Deal hovellers invariably 
fxhibit a peculiar tact and judgment, only acquired by 
constant practice under the most trying and perilous 
circumstances. As soon as the rescued crew were got 
on board the lugger, she was struck and nearly swamped 
by a tremendous sea; and, but for the skill and 
dexterity of the crew in pumping and baling, it is 
doubtful whether she would ever have reached the 
shore. The public will hardly believe, in this land of 
boasted charities and rewards for bravery, merit, and 
<'ood conduct in every shape and form, that no 
acknowledgment of any kind is provided for a gallant 
rescue of life such as that here recorded. Had these 
men saved fourteen chests of tea instead of fourteen 

WKECKS. 211 

human lives, they woukl doubtless have been sub- 
stantiallv rewarded ; for it is well known that worldlv 
property is thought far more of than human life by the 
laws of money-grubbing, money-loving England. The 
onlv reward in such a case must be the cheerina; 
remembrance, by a brave heart, of the accomj)lishment 
of a noble, unselfish deed. 

Captain Martin, for many years Harbour Master at 
Eamsgate, and a very high authority on such a subject, 
gives it as his opinion that many of the wrecks on the 
Goodwin Sands are attributable to " gross neglect of 
the commonest precautions as well as great carelessness 
in navigation,* to which may be added excessive com- 
petition, that is, to crack on with all canvas to overtake 
ftnd leave behind all competitors," and he proceeds to 
give one or two remarkable instances. 

A ship passed Eamsgate one very thick dark evening. 
A Deal lugger offered to pilot her through the Sands 
for five pounds, but the ofi'er was refused. The Deal 
men then strongly advised the captain to wait, as the 
weather was foggy and very dangerous. The reply 
was characteristic enough : " Can't wait ; my opposition 
is astern of me." And the consequence of this was — 
as might have been expected — that, without a pilot, 
and in thick weather, the unfortunate ship " struck on 
the Sands," and every soul perished. 

Another singular instance of ignorant confidence is 
given in the narrative of an American captain. Twelve 
ships left the Scheldt together, but four only hit the 
course through the Straits of Dover, whilst the other 
eight, " with a heavenly breeze," as the captain called 
* See ante, the ' Paul Boytou,' p. 18'J. 

p 2 


it, were leisurely sailing — not tliroiigh the Straits as 
they supposed — but into the Thames, believing the 
North Foreland Light, which appeared on the port 
beam, to be Blanche Nez Lighthouse ! This went on 
until, again quoting the outspoken captain, " my ship 
being the fastest, I guess, took the ground, and my 
companions took the hint and just let go anchors in 
time ; but, as I was their beacon, I calculate it would 
have been only fair to have sent their boats to help me 
out of the scrape. But no ; a Margate lugger comes 
alongside and sings out. ' Do you know where you 
are ? ' says he. ' Not exactly,' says I, ' 'spose it's the 
Varne.' ' Ha ! ha ! ' says he, ' you're on the Long Sand 
off Margate,' says he. However, I've no fault to find 
with the lugger's men ; they carried out a heavy anchor 
and chain, and ought to be handsomely paid for the 
work they did so well." So much for ignorance when 
steering over dangerous waters. 

Another, and still more remarkable instance of 
ignorance and carelessness, followed by ingratitude and 
insolence, is related by a party of Deal " hovellers '* 
who had anchored their boat in Trinity Bay (see chart) 
and, as a thick fog had come on, they had composed 
themselves for a quiet sleep under the sails of their boat. 
We, as dull stay-at-home landsmen, can hardly realise 
the comforts of a " quiet sleep " in an ojien boat, during 
a thick fog, on the Goodwin Sands of all places in the 
world ! But so it was, and they were just dozing off 
as easily as though reposing on a down bed, when they 
were unexpectedly startled by being run into by a ship 
with all her sails set. " Let go your anchor, you 
lubbers, you're on the Sands ! " shouted the diiiturbed 

WRECKS. 213 

hovellers. leaping to their feet in an instant. A con- 
temjDtuous reply only was vouchsafed, and on to the 
Sands the ship was accordingly driven, with all her 
canvas set, and that too in a thick fog in Trinity Bay ! 
Sailing ahead in such trim, with no sounding lead kept 
going, as any apprentice boy would have known should 
have been done in such highly dangerous ground, what 
else could have been expected ? An instance of much 
greater foolhardy daring and reckless ignorance — sheer 
madness indeed — it is impossible to conceive. The 
hovellers assisted to get the ship off, and being high 
water they, after much labour, fortunately succeeded, 
only to be repaid by impudence and insult. Let us 
hope that the graceless captain and crew were not 
English ; although, oddly enough, that language ap- 
peared to have been very freely spoken by all on 
board — ivitli an accent I 

It certainly seems somewhat surprising — at least to 
landsmen and outsiders who are not supposed to be 
acquainted with the details of such matters — that so 
seldom attempts appear to be made to pull ofi' into 
deep water ships which have run on the Sands, 
especially in these days of steam-power and of all 
other scientific appliances ; but doubtless there is some 
very good reason for this. And yet this could be done 
two hundred years ago with marked success, for it 
is recorded by Hasted that, in the year 1690, the 
' Vanguard,' a man-of-war of ninety guns, was driven 
on to the Sands in a fierce gale of wind, and would, of 
course, have gone to pieces in due time^ like the 
Norwegian barque ' Honi Sverne,' had she been left 


ttere ; but, thanks to the laborious perseverance and 
energetic assiduity of the Dealmen in their boats, she 
was ultimately got off and floated again, with very 
little damage to her timbers. How this feat was 
accomplished Hasted does not tell us ; but as neither 
steam tugs nor chain cables were known in those days, 
it would be interesting to ascertain what were the 
means employed to move so heavy a body as a ninety- 
gun ship with all her guns, stores, and crew on board, 
when fast grounded on so tenacious a sandbank as the 
Goodwins. Let us venture to hope that, in rewarding 
so great and signal a service as the saving of a man-of- 
war and all on board from almost certain destruction^ 
the Government of William and Mary were a little 
more liberal and large-hearted than their parsimonious 
representatives of modern days, who seem to consider 
that unreasoning economy is an established canon and 
the height of departmental virtue. 

Again, no later than 1881, the barque ' Chaudiere,'' 
from New Zealand to London, 500 tons, got ashore on 
the Sands, when two luggers of Deal and Kingsdown, 
the ' Arrow ' and the ' Lucy,' went to her assistance,, 
and with the help of the tug ' Victor ' the barque was 
got off and rescued from her danger, and her cargo 
and crew saved. The ' Chaudiere ' and her cargo were 
valued at £47,300, and for saving both from total 
destruction the owners had the conscience to offer to 
the boatmen who had rendered this great service the 
paltry sum of £200. This was indignantly refused ; 
and on bringing an action in the Admiralty Court, Sir 
Eobert Phillimore awarded £400, and little enough too 

WRECKS. 215 

considering the nature of the service done, and the 
great danger attending it to both life and property. 
Eemembering the contemptible meanness of the first 
offer, we ought to state, in case of any misapprehension, 
that the vessel was owned by a private firm. 




Original inventor — First patent in 1785 — Apathy of the Admiralty 
— Lukin's tomb — Fearful shipwreck at South Sliields — Fir!^t 
Lifeboat started in 1790 — Duke of Northumberland's Lifeboat 
— Rewards to Groathead — Sir AVilliam Hillar3"'s appeal — 
Foundation of the Lifeboat Institution in 1824 — First Lifeboat 
built under the Institution in 1826 stationed in Isle of Man — 
Three others followed — Gradual progress — Gradual decline — 
Another terrible wreck at Shields in 1849 — Capsizing of Life- 
boat and loss of life — I'e-organization of Lifeboat Institutiun — 
Prize competition — Prize won by Beeching — Improved on by 
Peake — Revival of Lifeboat interest — " Civil Service Lifeboat 
Fund" — Cost of boats — Description — Improvements — ]\lethods 
of propulsion — " Transporting carriage " — P>oat-house — Ajipli- 
anccs — i.ifebuats nearest the Sands — Interesting statistics. 

As the lifeljoat is so intimately connected witli the 
dreaded Goodwin Sands, and has been the means, under 
the guiding providence of God, of saving liundreds of 
lives that would otherwise inevitably have been lost 
there, a short sketch of its origin and progress may 
not perhaps be considered out of phice here as one of 
the concluding chapters. 

In most great or important inventions the genius 
who originated the very first idea, involving the special 
principle, is, generally speaking, forgotten, or nearly so, 
in consequence of his original but crude ideas being 


improved upon by subsequent inventors, until finally 
perfection is supposed to be obtained, and the last man 
in the field usually gains all the glory, although he may 
not have actually originated any idea whatever of his 
own, but merely improved upon those which he found 
ready made to his hands. So it is with the invention 
of the lifeboat. Everybody knows the name of Beech- 
ing of Great Yarmouth, but we question whether one 
person in ten ever heard of the ingenious coachbuilder 
of Long Acre, Lionel Lukin by name, who is generally 
admitted to have been the first who conceived the 
leading idea of making a boat that would not sink, by 
means of air-hoxes and cork ; and this, after all, is the 
grand principle on which all lifeboats have been since 
constructed, although that idea may have been much 
extended and elaborated by the intelligence and ia- 
genuity of subsequent inventors. 

As the originator of the one great principle of 
construction which is now so admirably and universally 
carried out, we claim the honour for Lionel Lukin, a 
native of the inland town of Dunmow, Essex, but, in 
after life, a very successful coachbuilder of Long Acre. 
Having conceived the idea of constructing what he 
called an " unimmergible boat," he fitted a Norway 
yawl, first, with gunwales of cork ; secondly, with air- 
boxes, or compartments, running from stem to stern in- 
side ; thirdly, two further air-boxes, one head, the other 
stern ; and fourthly, a heavy keel to ballast the boat. 
For this he took out a patent in 1785, but although 
the boat was found to answer admirably, yet Mr. 
Lukin's appeals to the Lords of the Admiralty and the 
Master of the Trinity House, backed by the liberal 


patronage and encouragement of the Prince of Wales 
(George IV.), were all in vain. " My Lords " had 
never heard of such a thing before as an " unimmer- 
gible boat," and therefore, with the usual dulness of 
the official mind, they never took the trouble even to 
inquire into the merits of the new invention, and so, as 
a matter of course, nothing was done ; not a lifeboat of 
any kind was placed on the coast, excepting one single 
instance, and that was entirely due to the large-hearted 
munificence of a private individual, the Eev. Dr. Shairp, 
Vicar of Bamborough, who, in 1786, caused a boat to 
be made " unimmergible " by Mr. Lukin, and during 
the first year of her existence she was the means of 
saving very many lives, and the most satisfactory 
accounts were received of her performances. But, 
still, even after all this, "my Lords," with character- 
istic official apathy, could not, or would not see it, and 
no progressive steps were taken, nor does it appear 
that many of Lukin's lifeboats were ever constructed. 

Lionel Lukin lies buried in the churchyard of 
Hythe, in Kent, where the visitor who is interested 
in such matters may read on his monument the 
following perfectly truthful record of his great 
invention : — 

" Ihis Lionel Lnkin 
Was the first who built a Lilebuat, and wns the 
Original Inventor of that principle of safely by 
wliich many lives and much pro])erty have been 
preserved from Shipwreck : He obtained for it 
the Kin2,'s patent in the year 1785." * 

* History of the ' Lifeboat and its Work,' by Kichard Lewis, 
Esq., Secretary to the Royal National Life Boat Institution. 
(Macmillan, 1874.) 


Four years after this latter date — namely, in 1789 — 
an appalling shipwreck was actually witnessed by the 
subscribers to the News Kooms at the Law House, 
South Shields, when the ' Adventure,' of Newcastle, was 
lost on the Herd Sand in the midst of the most tre- 
mendous breakers, the unfortunate crew being seen to 
drop one by one from the rigging into the boiling surf 
before their eyes, and actually within 300 yards of 
the spectators, whilst no one could be induced by the 
offer of either fee or reward to launch a boat or to 
attemj)t a rescue.* This terrible catastrophe made so 
deep an impression on the public mind that a meeting 
was called, a committee of gentlemen appointed, and 
premiums were offered for plans of a boat able to live 
in heavv seas or broken water. 

This brought but two competitors into the field, Mr. 
William Wouldhave, a painter, and Mr. Henry Great- 
head, a boat-builder of South Shields. Wouldhave 
appears to have done little more than construct a boat 
in which cork was largely employed, whilst Greathead 
brouglit forward a model with a curved instead of 
straight keel, fitted and lined with 7 cwt. of cork, but 
without air-boxes, and to him the committee awarded 
the premium. A lifeboat was thereupon at once con- 
structed by Greathead, and launched at Shields on the 
oOth January, 1790, in which not only his own plans, 

■ Without intending the smallest disrespect for the boatmen of 
Smith Shields, I cannot suppress a feeling that, had this ship 
stranded within 300 yaids of Deal or Eamsgate, many a hoveller's 
boat's crew, quite regardless of any thought of gain, would most 
assuredly have tried their best at a rescue, even though they might 
have totally failed in the attempt, and lost both boats and lives in 
their gallant endeavours. 

220 'memoetals of the goodwin sands. 

but those of "Wouldhave also, were said to liave been 
combined in tbe model adopted by order of the com- 
mittee. This boat ^Yas 30 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 
3f feet deep, and rowed ten oars, sails not being 

Although fairly successful, yet no other boat was 
built until 1798, when the then Duke of Northumber- 
land ordered one to be constructed at his own expense 
by Greathead, and this being munificently endowed 
with an annuity for its preservation, he stationed it 
at North Shields. Another noble-hearted individual 
ordered a boat for St. Andrews, which proved so 
thoroughly seaworthy that Greathead received many 
orders for the building of lifeboats, and in 1803 there 
were five in operation in Scotland, and eighteen in 
England. The great utility of the invention becoming 
more and more apparent, Parliament awarded to Grreat- 
liead — on his own application, though — £1200 ; the 
Trinity House and Lloyd's each added a hundred 
guineas, the Society of Arts fifty guineas and a gold 
medal, and the Emperor of Eussia a diamond ring ; and 
yet, notwithstanding all this, the number of lifeboats 
did not increase as might naturally have been supposed, 
but, on the contrary, a strange and unaccountable apathy 
seemed to reign everywhere but on the Northumberland 
coast, and little or nothing more was done until 1823. 

That year, however, was rendered memorable in the 
history of the lifeboat by the powerful and eloquent 
appeal made to the nation at large by Sir William 
Hillarv, Bart., a resident in the Isle of Man, where he had 
often witnessed the most harrowing scenes attending 
the loss of ships and crews, which appeared to have 


made a deep and lasting impression on his warm and 
generous nature, and to have given him the idea of 
endeavouring to find some means of mitio-atinof so 
terrible an evil. In this good work he found an able 
and willing coadjutor in Mr. Wilson, one of the 
members for the City of London, and on the 12th 
February, 1824, a great meeting was held at the London 
Tavern, and a further meeting on the 4th of March 
following, when the " Eoyal National Listitution for the 
Preservation of Life from Shipwreck " was founded and 
established under the most favourable auspices. His 
Majesty King George IV. became patron, all the Eoyal 
Dukes vice-patrons, the Earl of Liverpool the president, 
a number of Bishops, nobility, clergy and gentry 
becoming vice-presidents and members of the com- 
mittee, &c. 

A " District Lifeboat Association " was immediately 
formed by Sir W. Hillary, on his return to tne Isie of 
Man, and the first lifeboat started under its auspices 
was built by Mr. Plenty, of Newbury, and stationed 
in Douglas Bay in 1826, and three more followed in 
the years 1827-9, which were respectively placed in 
Castletown, Peel, and Kamsey. 

During the first year of its existence the lujyal 
National Institution for the Preservation of Life from 
Shipwreck established twelve lifeboats on diff'erent 
parts of the coast ; these were in addition to thirty- 
nine already existing, the gifts of other private indi- 
viduals, or belonging to local associations not connected 
with the new Institution. Besides lifeboats, Manby's 
rocket apparatus was also supplied by the Institution ; 
but this was subsequently given up for want of 


adequate means to carry it on, and it is now in the 
hands of the coastguard acting under the Board of 

One of the most alile supporters of the Institution 
was the late George Palmer, Esq., of Nazing Park, 
Essex, MP. for South Essex, who gave not only the 
weight of his influence, but turned his attention 
towards improving the build of the lifeboat as well ; 
and. his plans were only superseded so late as 1852, 
when the present self-righting principle was adopted. 

When the Institution had been established just 
twenty-five years, public interest, which for some 
unaccountable reason had again been rapidly declining, 
seemed almost to have ceased, and the work was in a 
very low and depressed state. Many lifeboats fell 
into decay from being left too long out of the water, 
where wrecks were infrequent, no pains having been 
taken to keep them in proper repair, or even to float 
them occasionally. 

Things were in this discouraging state when a wreck 
occurred at Shields, on the 4th December, 1849, the 
' Betsy ' of Littlehampton, having got on to the Herd 
Sand. The South Shields lifeboat, manned by twenty- 
four pilots, went out to her aid ; but, on reaching the 
wreck, she was completely turned over, end for end, 
by a heavy sea, when twenty of her unfortunate crew 
were almost instantly drowned, and the boat shortly 
after drifted ashore bottom up. The two other smaller 
boats from North and South Shields immediately 
started to the rescue, and succeeded ia saving the 
remaining four pilots, as well as the crew of the 
' Betsy.' This melancholy event appears to have caused 


a profound sensation, and to have had the effect of 
calling public attention once more to the work of the 
lifeboat, and to have roused the people from the extra- 
ordinary apathy with which for so long a period thej 
had apparently regarded the subject.* 

A new committee was immediately formed, the late 
Prince Consort and the late King of the Belgians each 
becoming a vice-patron, and the Duke of Northumber- 
land ultimately becoming president, which office he 
held until his death in 186(i. Sir Edward Perrott, Bart., 
Captain Washington, R.N., Admiral Sir W. Hall, and 
the late Thomas Chapman, Esq. j — after whom the 
Kingsgate Lifeboat is named — and other gentlemen of 
influence and scientific acquirements, also joined the 
Institution at this time, and by their energy and prac- 
tical skill very materially helped on the good work. 

In the re-organization of the Institution | the Duke 
of Northumberland most liberally offered a premium of 
one hundred guineas for the best model of a lifeboat, 

* It is somewhat singular that, as the first great j)ublic move- 
ment in favour of the lifeboat took place in consequence of a terrible 
wreck on the Herd Sand at Shields in 1789, so the "revival " — if 
it may be so called — was occasioned by a second wreck on the same 
^•sand-bank in 18-i9. 

t See Appendix Xo. 20, p. 296. 

% In 1853 the title of the Institution was changed from "The 
Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Ship- 
wreck " to " The Eoyal National Life Boat Institution (founded m 
1824) for the Preserv'ation of Life fron: Sliipwreck," at the instance 
of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Benevolent Society 
(founded in 1839), on the Society handing over to the Institution 
the few lifeboat establishments it possessed, together with the funds 
raised for tiieir support, and the two societies have since continued 
to work together, " the one in saving life, and the other in fosti-riug 
It when saved." 


and a like sum to defray the cost of bnilding a boat on 
the model chosen. Answers were received this time 
from all parts of England, as well as from France, 
Holland, and America, and 280 models and plans were 
sent m ; and after a long, patient, and detailed exa- 
mination of them all, the prize was aAvarded to 
James Beeching, of Great Yarmouth, as the successful 

The first (or " prize ") lifeboat built by Beeching 
was 36 feet long, rowing twelve oars, and was the 
first self-righting boat ever constructed. She was 
afterwards purchased by the Ramsgate Harbour Com- 
missioners, and did good work there for many years. 

Still anxious to carry out improvements, the com- 
mittee directed Mr. Peake, Assistant Master Shipwright, 
of Woolwich, to construct a boat on Beeching's lines, 
but at the same time adopting any alterations or 
additions which a further study of the various prize 
models and plans already submitted might suggest. 
Another boat was accordingly built, and found to be 
greatly superior in her powers of self-righting, freeing 
herself from water, and other important points, and 
this is the model, with still further modifications and 
improvements suggested by practical experience, which 
is now universally adopted and may be seen carried out 
in most of the lifeboats now in use throughout the 
kingdom ; '' so that the lifeboat of the Institution," as 
Mr. Lewis observes, " may now be truly designated an 
omnium gatherum, and cannot be looked upon as any 
one man's design or invention " — except so far as the 
cork and air-boxes are concerned, which undoubtedly 
owe their origin to Lukin. 


Since the "revival " — if we may be again allowed so 
to apply the term — in 1849, as already referred to, the 
National Life Boat Institution has been gradually rising 
in favour with the public, and its popularity is now a 
settled and undoubted fact, and a fact which is suffi- 
ciently proved by the amount of annual income, in- 
creasing from £354 in 1S49, with 19 boats, to nearly 
£65,000 in 1888, with 293 boats. 

As a singular proof of the popularity of the whole 
question, various public bodies, clubs, benefit societies, 
and other incorporations, have come forward at difierent 
times, and placed funds in the hands of the Institution 
for providing lifeboats in various parts of the country. 

Amongst these may be specially mentioned the Life 
Boat Fund, raised wholly by the members of Her 
Majesty's Civil Service, which fund was established in 
1866, and from a very small beginning has. now (1889) 
risen into a large and important association numbering 
9913 members, in which upwards of eighty of the 
public departments of the Civil Service are fully re- 
presented. Five boats have been already built and are 
maintained by the fund, but handed over to the 
National Life Boat Institution. The first is called 
the ' Civil Service No. 1,' and was stationed at Wexford 
in 1866 ; the second, called the ' Charles Dibdin,' was 
given to North Shields in 1875 ; and the third, the 
' Civil Service No. 3,' is at Port Patrick, in Scotland ; 
and in addition to these three a fourth boat, one of the 
finest ever built, was sent to Wexford in October, 1878, 
to replace the first ' Civil Service No. 1,' which had 
become nearly worn out, and which, during the twelve 
years of her active life, had aided nineteen ships and 



saved 122 lives. Two others have also been given, 
' Civil Service No. 4,' placed at Walmer in 1884 ; and 
' Civil Service No. 5,' placed at Maryport in 1886. 

To keep up so large a fleet as 293 boats, with their 
gear, carriages, and boat-houses, in constant repair and 
thoroughly efficient working order, requires per boat 
an income of £70 a year, after a first outlay of £1050 
for boat, carriage, and boat-house ; for, in constructing 
these splendid craft, no expense whatever is spared, the 
very best materials and workmanship that can possibly 
be procured for money being invariably employed by 
the National Life Boat Institution. 

The lifeboat now almost universally adopted by 
the National Institution may be said to be as nearly 
perfect as the skill and ingenuity of highly trained and 
thoughtful minds, and the improvements suggested by 
practical experience, can make it. It has been said, 
with great truth, that this boat " possesses in the 
highest degree all the qualities wliich it is desirable 
that a lifeboat should possess," and it may be gene- 
rally described as being 33 feet long, by 8 feet wide^ 
and 4 feet deep — that is, over all — and weighs about 53 
cwt.* They are built of mahogany on the diagonal 
principle, a mode affording great strength, copper 
fastened, with an iron keel 4^ inches deep attached to 
the wooden one, and fitted with five thwarts to row ten 
oars double banked. A kind of floor or deck is placed 
1 foot G inches above the keel, the space between being 
occupied partly by air-cases and partly by cork ballast 

* The largest is 4G feet 3 inches, rowing 14 oars, and is placed at 
Lowestoft, and the smallest is 25 feet, rowing 8 oars, at Suutheiul, 


weighing several hundredweight. Air-cases are fitted in 
the head and stern of the boat, both of which rise nearly 
2 feet higher than her sides amidships, and the cases 
project into the boat from 4 to 6 feet, measuring inwards, 
from the stem and stern posts. Besides these, two ad- 
ditional air-cases are placed under the thwarts and 
running along the inside of the boat. The great amount 
of buoyancy in a 33-foot lifeboat, obtained by these 
admirable arrangements, is nearly 12 tons : thus, the 
end air-cases 4^ tons, side cases If tons, air and cork 
under the deck 5^ tons'. 

Two of the most remarkable improvements in these 
modern lifeboats are undoubtedly the introduction of 
" relieving valves," and the " self-righting " principle. 
By the first-named the boat frees herself, in a few 
seconds only, of water that may have washed into her, 
thus entirely obviating that troublesome and time-losing 
practice of baling. The valves are of gun-metal, and 
■open downwards only, so that they immediately give to 
the j)ressure of water upon them, but effectually prevent 
the return of any water into the boat. By the second- 
named improvement, the boat has the singular property 
of instantly righting herself if turned over by a heavy 
sea, and this power is gained by the before-mentioned 
high air-cases, head and stern, which alone are sufiicient 
to bear the whole weight of the boat if placed keel up 
in the water. The effect of this arrangement is that, if 
the boat is placed in the water keel up, she floats un- 
steadily on the support of her two air-boxes, with the 
heavy keel and ballast above the centre of gravity. 
The consequence is that this dead weight cannot 
possibly remain in such a position, and therefore falls 

Q 2 


over on one side, and instantly brings the boat to her 
original position, whilst the water which may have 
been taken in, at once escapes through the relieving 
tubes, and the boat is again ready for immediate action. 

Various methods have been suggested for propelling 
lifeboats — by paddle, screw, or turbine-wheel, and even 
steam and compressed air have both been proposed ; 
but, on mature consideration, all these methods have 
been abandoned for the better known and more readily 
handled lug sail, or oar, the latter being even more 
general than the former ; a system of propulsion which, 
as Mr. Lewis remarks, is not only the most ancicat, 
but, after all, " the simplest and most effectual instru- 
ment of hand propulsion, and we doubt if it will ever 
be superseded." * Most of the lifeboats row ten, some 
of the larger twelve oars ; but they are nearly all fitted 
with two masts and two lug sails, which have often 
proved of the utmost service where oars could either 
not have been used at all, or used only with extreme 
difficulty and immense labour. 

Early in 18S8, however, Messrs. E. and H. Green, 
the shipbuilders of Blackwall, offered to the Life Boat 
Institution a model of a steam lifeboat 50 feet long, 
with 12 feet beam, to be propelled by a turbine whe^l, 
worked by an engine developing 170 liorse-power. 
This model has been accepted, and the boat is now 
(October, 1889) very nearly completed. 

Another ingenious arrangement has been made in 
the " transporting carriage," said to have been the in- 
vention of the late Colonel J. Nesbett Colquhoun, li.A., 
Director of the Carriage Department, Royal Arsenal^ 
* ' The Lifeboat and its Worl;.' 


by means of which the boat, by the aid of two or more 
stout horses, can be conveyed by land from the boat- 
bouse to any part of the shore near to which a wreck 
may have happened. Nor is this all, for the carriage 
affords not only a rapid mode of transit, but a ready 
means of launching as well. The carriage is backed, 
as far as possible, into the water, and the boat, the keel 
of which rests on small iron rollers, is then rapidly run ^ 
off by the aid of self-detaching " launching ropes." By 
means of this admirable invention the " lifeboat is made 
available for a greater extent of coast than she other- 
wise would be, and, even when launched abreast of the 
boat-house, can be much more quickly conveyed to the 
water's edge than she could be if not on such a 
carriage." * 

The last of the improvements in lifeboat arrange- 
ments is the construction of a " house " to keep her in, 
and protect her from the weather when not in use. 
Mr. C. H. Cooke, the honorary architect of the 
National Life Boat Institution, has erected upwards of 
two hundred of these houses. Thevare of stone, with hiirh 
pitched roofs and arched windows, and have something 
of an ecclesiastical look externally, and are altogether 
extremely ornamental in appearance. Here the boat is 
kept mounted on her carriage, with all her gear on 
board ready for instant use. Every boat carries a 
compass, a lantern for night work, life-lints festooned 
round the sides to enable persons in the water to climb 
up into the boat. Other life-lines are attached to corks 
to float them if thrown from the boat when alongside a 
wreck, and also a life-buoy with line attached. Besides 

* Lewis's 'Lil'ubuat.' 



this, she carries two grappling-irons fastened with 
strong lines, one head and one stern, to throw into the 
rigging of wrecked ships to enable the boat to hold on 
by ; and last, not least, a good sharp hatchet. 

The towns and villages which lie on the coast 
nearest to the Goodwin Sands are seven in number, and 
are all of them important lifeboat stations. The 
length, and other particulars, of the boats (1889), 
together with the names of the stations, are given 
below : — 

Name of Station. 

Kings;iare . 

liiims2:ate . 
North Deal 
Diiver . 

Name of Boat. 

' Thomas Chapman ' 
C Christopher Waud\ 
[ Bradford' / 

' Bradford ' 

' Mary Somerville ' * 

' Civil Service No. 4 ' 

* Charles Hargrave ' 

' Lewis Morice' 


Length No. of 
in feet. Oars. 

N. L.B.I u.stu. 


:To\vnof Brad-\ 
. ford . ./ 

Her legacy 
fCivil Service\ 
I Fund . ./ 

His legacy 

^i,... M., rice's) 








The whole of the lifeboat work on the Goodwins 
is performed by these seven boats, though perhaps 
liamsgate. Deal, and Walmer do the most from their 
nearer proximity to the Sands. Kamsgate jjossesses the 

* The former Deal liieboat was called the ' Va ^ Kooh,' and was 
l)resentcd by Mr. E. W. Cooke, U.A., a very distinguished artist, 
and the painter of " The Eeturn of the llnmsgate Lifeboat with the 
rescued Crew on Board," a striking and graphic picture, in which 
every small dstiiil has been most carefully drawn, exhibitint^ a 
perfect and practical knowledge of the wIkjIc subject. 

t A new bnai, same name, placed here August, 1887. 


immense advantage of having a harbour in which the 
lifeboat can lie in perfect readiness for action, with 
a powerful steam tug, with her steam up night and 
day, always ready, at a moment's notice, to take the 
boat in tow when starting on her perilous errand of 

From the very interesting Keport of the National 
Life Boat Institution it appears that, during the year 
1888, 41 new lifeboats have been started, 30 more 
promised for 1889, and two new stations have been 
established, and there are now 293 lifeboats under the 
management of the society, dispersed over the coasts 
of lingland, Ireland, and Scotland. During that year 
(1888) the boats belonging to the Institution were 
launched 295 times, and rescued 626 persons and 26 
vessels under peculiarly perilous circumstances. It 
may also be interesting to note that, in the last sixty- 
five years, 34,013 lives have been saved through the 
assistance rendered by the boats of this Institution, 
and that, during the same period, 1288 medals and 
glasses have been awarded — 97 being gold medals — 
and £102,926 in money rewards, for saving life from 
shipwrecks on our coasts. 

In this truly national work the expenditure, during 
the same year, amounted to nearly £65,000 — a very 
large sum to depend almost entirely on donations and 
subscriptions ; but the funds of this Institution should 
never be allowed to flag, for it is an association which 
ought most certainly to commend itself to all right- 
thinking and generous-minded people, not of the British 
Isles only, but of every nation whose ships sail the wide 
ocean, and whose sailors may, at any moment of great 


danger and difficulty, he only too thankful to avail 
themselves of the ready and welcome assistance 
afforded by the boats of this Institution. 

We cannot do better than conclude this sketch with 
the telling words of Mr. Lewis: — "The committee of 
the Life Boat Listitution feel assured that it will never 
lack support so long as it maintains its fleet in the 
state of thorough efficiency attained at the present time, 
manned, as the boats of the Institution are on every 
emergency, by as fearless and noble a class of men as 
ever our Nelsons and Collingwoods led to battle to 
uphold our country's honour and glory." * 

* ' The Lifeboat and its Work.' 

( ^33 ) 



Martin's "suspended" Lighthouse, 1829 — Bush's scheme, 1842— 
"The Prince of Wales Hnrbour of Eefuge " — Eeclaimi.-.gof land 
— Proposed erection of Lighthouses and buildings — Bush's single 
Lighthouse, 1852 — Stevenson's " Eubble Cone " foundation for 
Lighthouses — Captain Vetch's breakwater and "Spinal Embank- 
ment," 1844 — Formation of suuken wells for foundations, 1843 
— Hennie's proposed breakwater on the Brake Sand — A fortifi- 
cation project suggested by the Duke of Wellington, 1843 — 
Many and various pruposals submitted to the Trinity Corpora- 
tion since 1845. 

Mr. John Martins " Suspended " Liglithouse. 

I OFFER no apology for introducing the following 
ingenious and singular proposal, because of the great 
celebrity of its author, the Avell-known John Martin, 
E.A., so justly famed for the grandeur of his wonderful 
conceptions in depicting scriptural subjects, as all who 
have ever seen the " Plains of Heaven," " The Great 
Day of His Wrath," or the '•' Temptation," will be ready 
to testify. 

Mr. Martin's proposal (made in the year 1 829) was 
to erect on the Goodwin Sands, or any other such shoals, 
a sort of beacon lighthouse of iron, which was to be 
suspended from three wrought iron " legs," forming a 


tripod, resting on a foundation constructed on the 
following most original plan : — 

The level of the clay helow the sand must first be 
satisfactorily ascertained.* The material for the foun- 
dation was to be hollow metal boxes, open at the top, 
each furnished at one end with two projecting pieces, 
and at the other two corresponding holes, so that each 
box may be firmly locked into that on either side of it. 
Three lines of these boxes, forming in plan an equilateral 
triangle, are to be placed on the sand at low tide ; these 
will have sunk by the next tide, when another layer of 
boxes would be deposited on the top of the first, their 
course being directed by three iron bars or poles sunk 
in the sand at each corner of the triangle, the end box 
of each line being furnished with guiding loops. As 
the boxes descended they would all be filled with sand, 
and thus a firm foundation, it was thought, would soon 
be obtained, as layers of boxes might be added on as the 
others gradually sunk. The whole was to be strength- 
ened by " bars of wood or iron passing through holes 
in the sides of the boxes, and similar bars might be 
placed within the triangle." When the upper layer 
had rr ached the surface, the foundation would be 
completed. Three wrought iron " legs " are then to be 
" inserted " at the three corners of the foundation, 
meeting at the top, where they are to be "firmly secured," 
thus assuming the form of a pyramid or tripod, standing 
on a triangular base or foundation. From the apex of 
these three iron " legs " is to be " suspended " a light 

* We must not forL'et tliat this level, as proved by Sir H. Felly's 
exiieriment, was 78 feet below the surface ! But this fact was not, 
at tliat period, known. 


tower of malleable iron, circular in form, about 10 feet 
in diameter, large enough to accommodate two men, who- 
would be relieved at " stated periods " (Mr, Martin does 
not say bow or when), a steamer being appointed to 
look after each depot, such depot to consist of " so many 
of these light towers." The cost of this singular 
apparatus is estimated at only £300, which I venture to 
think would be very far below the real expense of such 
a work. The circular suspended tower was to have a. 
flat top, surrounded by a rail to form a " look out,'V 
above which, from the apex of the triangle, the light 
was to be fixed, how we are not exactly informed ; nor 
are we told how the iron poles, or " legs," are to be 
" inserted " into the foundation of boxes and sand, or 
•• firmly secured " at the top ; nor how the " rouud- 
tower " is to be '* suspended." 

The sketch at p. 115 is copied from Mr. Martin's own. 
design, in which no scale is given in the original ; but, 
from the size of the man, a very rough estimate may 
be made that each " leg " or pole would be about 
70 feet long, and the tower about 7 feet high and 10 or 
11 feet in diameter, with the floor some 20 feet above 
the water. A, the light ; B, the lighthouse ; C, pieces 
of cast iron 10 feet square and 6 inches thick, fixed at 
each angle of triangular frame, and so united to the 
foundation to give greater security to the whole. 

Mr. Martin suggests that there should be six of 
these towers erected on the eastern edge of the Good- 
win Sands ; and then makes this very remarkable 
and entirely original proposal: "Buoys, as outposts, 
made of long beams of wood fixed by an anchor at 
each end of the beam, should be placed in the direction 


of the sandbank. To render these buoys consj^iciious a 
sinall idole shoukl be fixed upright at each extremity 
of the beam, and at the end of each pole an arrow, as 
a pointer, with a small hell attached. Eeflecting glasses, 
placed at various angles, should be fixed at the top, to 
catch reflections of light. Ships should carry a strong 
light at their heads, which would be reflected from 
these glasses (?) and show the direction of the Sands. A 
buoy on this principle cannot move so far from the 
spot as those on the present plan. 

All this is very ingenious in theory, but I greatly 
fear Mr. jMartin knew but little of the nature of the 
sandbanks and shoals, exposed to the full force of a 
heavy sea, lashed into fury by the tremendous power of 
the wind. How long did he suppose that " a small pole," 
or " a small bell," and " various reflecting glasses," fixed 
on a floating beam of wood, moored on the Goodwin 
Sands would be likely to last ? Judging by our present 
experience we should put the time of such endurance 
at the most limited period, possibly a few days only. 
Again, did Mr. Martin reckon on the enormous length 
of the proposed " three legs " — between 60 and 70 
feet — and the great thickness they must necessarily be 
to supp(u-t so great a weight as the light, the iron 
tower and the two men? And did he consider the 
immense force which would be exerted at each corner 
of the triangular box " foundation," by the outward 
thrust of these three " legs," when so heavily weighted 
at their apex r I fear that something more than mere 
"iron boxes filled with sand" would be required — at each 
corner at least — to keep the " legs " in position, when 
we remember the irresistible power of the sea, and how 


repeatedly beacons are washed away, although con- 
structed on the most scientific principles, and firmly 
bound together by lateral supports and iron tie-rods on 
every side. 

Mr. Martin's idea, in theory, was perhaps good, and 
possibly practicable for the mouths of rivers where the 
water was smooth, and the force of the sea compara- 
tively small ; but such a structure could never succeed 
exactly as he designed it, inasmuch as it w.iuld be 
very far too weak and slight to resist the overwhelming 
force of winds and waves as usually experienced on 
the Groodwin Sands, and all other such places exposed 
to the force of the open sea. Nevertheless the plan 
was certainly ingenious, and was perhaps worth the 
consideration of practical men, to whom it might, at 
least, suggest an idea from the fact of its thorough 

The Prince of Wales Harbour of Refuge. 

The very curious and interesting experiment con- 
ducted by Sir J. H. Pelly in October, 1849, on the 
Goodwins brought out the remarkable fact that clear 
bright sand extends downwards to a depth of 46 feet, 
whilst 32 feet more of sand, broken shells, pebbles, etc., 
intervene before the solid chalk is reached. 

By this, it is quite evident that it wuuld be 
necessary to descend something like 78 feet through 
the soft sand before any hope of a firm and really 
reliable foundation could be reached — a rather stagger- 
ing fact so far as building or reclaiming schemes are 
concerned ; and therefore, as a consequence of this very 


conclusive experiment, all furtlier attempts at sink- 
ing operations, for subsequent building purposes, 
liave been very properly abandoned — at least for the 

Acting, however, apparently on the opinion formed 
by Mr. Boys, by Smeaton the great engineer, by Admiral 
Bullock and others, that a firm bottom could be 
reached at from 7 to 15 feet, a scheme remarkable for 
its originality and ingenuity, was formally brought 
before the public in the year 1843 (six years j^^ior to 
Sir J. H. Felly's investigations) by Mr. Bush, C.E., so 
well known for his gallant attempts to build a lighthouse 
on the Sands, called the " Light for all Nations," a full 
.account of which appears in Chapter V. This latter 
proposal was nothing more nor less than the formation 
of a " Harbour of Kefuge," to be named after the 
Prince of Wales, right in the centre of the Goodwins, 
the spot, in fact, lying between the north and south 
portions of the Sands, and known as Trinity Bay. To 
■carry this out, Mr. Bush did not intend to ask aid 
from either the Government or the Trinity FTouse, but, 
looking on the scheme as a pure commercial specula- 
tion — and probably, as he hoped, a paying one too — 
Mr. Bush proposed to form a company with a capital 
of £i5U,000. in 5000 sbares of £5 each, and construct 
it Refuge Harbour of 2,260 acres in extent, with an 
average depth of 36 feet at low water ; and at the same 
time to reclaim from the sea 7000 acres of land which, 
he gravely told the public in his prospectus, " can be 
appropriated for the purposes of cultivation (!) the 
building of docks, warehouses, and other useful and 
necessary objects ; " or, if the Government desired it. 

ni (*tP'^'~"~ ^''^' 





CHART. — bush's SEA WALL. 


'• the erection of fortifications on any part of the 
recovered land." The " reclaiming " was to be effected 
by means of a vast sea-wall 11 miles in extent, to be con- 
structed on the " Caisson system," j^atented at this i)eriod 
by Mr. Bush. This was simple enough in theory, but, 
as experiments and attempts afterwards proved, difficult 
and dangerous in practice. A huge hollow caisson was 
l)roposed to be sunk in the Sands, having a tall tube or 
shaft rising above water, through which workmen were 
to be lowered, who would fill the interior with masonry 
till the whole became a vast solid mass, and by means of 
a series of those caissons, walls or platforms, it was 
thought, could be erected, but only at the cost of an 
enormous amount of labour, time, and money. Mr, 
Bush, confident in the success of his invention, goes 
on to state that the dues arising from ships seeking 
refuge in the harbour, as well as the profits arising 
from the " land " recovered (?) would amply com- 
pensate the shareholders for the money expended ; and 
then, after referring to the thousands of ships which 
have been wrecked here, during the last 800 years, 
Mr. Bush makes this remarkable observation : — " In 
that long lapse of time, innumerable ships, freighted 
with the most valuable cargoes, have been here 
swallowed up ; and, although much of what those 
vessels contained was doubtless of a perishable nature, 
it is fair to presume that many of those sunken 
wrecks contain solid and substantial treasures, such as 
silver and gold, the extent of which no idea can be 
formed." From this, it is fair to suppose that the 
possible recovery of some of" the treasures of the deep" 
formed a material part of Mr. Bush's daring scheme. 


By means of a long series of these caissons, Mr. 
Bush proposed to construct a sea-wall and so " reclaim " 
a great part of the Sands, and form the Kefuge 
Harbour out of the present Trinity Bay, the land 
reclaimed to he devoted to building purposes and 
" cultivation." How buildings were to be erected on 
loose, soft sand is not very clear ; but how such sand 
was ever to be " cultivated," as Mr. Bush proposed, 
is utterly inexplicable ! At the southern extremity of 
this sea-wall Mr. Bush intended to place a lighthouse 
(possibly his famous " Light for all Nations "), and a 
corresponding light at the northern extremity. 

The design — as a design — was excellent, and would 
have proved a vast boon to the shipping interest if it 
could in any way have been accomplished ; but this 
scheme does not appear ever to have been taken up ; 
possibly the unfortunate destruction of the first great 
caisson, and the consequent failure of that experiment 
in the previous year * (1842), might have materially 
operated to prevent any further interest being taken in 
so apparently hopeless a matter as attempting to build 
on a loose shifting sand, where the only foundation to 
be relied on was found to exist at the enormous depth of 
78 feet, a fact, however, not then known to Mr. Bush, 
as Sir J. H. Belly's researches were not undertaken till 
October, 1849, or six years afterwards. 

BnsJis single Lir/hthoiise and Brmhvafer, 1S52. 

Nothing daunted by the failure of the "Prince of 
Wales Harbour of Btefuge " scheme, Mr. Bush proposed, 
* See Chap. V., " Beacuus." 


in the year 1852, yet another plan, not perhaps ex- 
actly original, for the idea of the faggots is evidently 
suggested hy Captiin Vetch's plan,* though employed 
in a somewhat different manner, and it is evident from 
the great depth of the proposed foundation that 
Mr. Bush had profited by the discovery of the real 
position of the chalk as revealed by Sir J. H. Felly's 
experiment three years previously, Mr. Bush proposed 
to enclose an area of GOO feet by a circular breakwater 
constructed by hurdles of faggots on Vetch's system, 
and in the centre of this was to be an excavation down 
to the chalk substratum, 80 feet below, which was to 
be reached by means of huge circular caissons to be 
filled in as they descended, by which means a tower, 
80 feet high, of solid masonry, resting on the chalk 
and passing upwards through the sand, would be 
formed. On this, above high-water mark, a platform 
was to be placed, and on that again a lighthouse 
tower could be raised 140 feet high, or 220 feet from 
the deep chalk bed. This is, no doubt, a really grand 
and spirited design, and if the great 8U-foot solid tower 
could but once have been built on the firm clay and 
brought up through the sand, it would have been 
a magnificent and eminently useful work, and all 
subsequent building on such a solid foundation would 
have been comparatively easy; but, unfortunately, like 
all building on the Goodwins, winds and waves, and 
earth and sand alike, seem to declare against us puny 
mortals, and we never seem to get beyond the mere 
beginning, for the simple reason that before any 
structure can be advanced far enough to obtain a firm 

• See p. 245. 



" hold " — SO to speak — everything is washed away, and 
totally destroyed. 

But this was not all, for, in addition to the 80-foot 
tower, an artesian well was to be sunk through the 
sand down deep into the chalk, for the supply of the 
shipping with pure water. This well, we may suppose, 
would be in connection with the lighthouse, and 
perhaps, as a scheme, feasible enough. But the real 
objection which appeared to have been raised by prac- 
tical men was not so much the idea and the design, 
as the position proposed for the lighthouse, namely, 
the centre of the Goodwins, which was said to be a 
great mistake in judgment ; for it was very justly 
argued, that if the Goodwins were ten miles long, 
with a mile at each extremity as the nearest prudent 
approach in a strong tideway, a central lighthouse, 
placed as this would be in the middle of the Sands, 
would be six miles from either danger, and consequently 
much too far off to be of any real practical use. The 
proposal was, therefore, never carried out, or even 

Mr. Thomas Stevenson's Btihhle Cone for Lighthouse. 

An admirable proposal, and one that appears to be 
perfectly feasible from the extreme simplicity and 
great strength of the design, was made by Mr. Thomas 
Stevenson, F.R.S.E., in the year 1848, for the con- 
struction of a lighthouse on the Sands, to be supported 
on a cone of rubble and chalk. 

Mr. Stevenson first proposed to construct a vast 
circular cone of rubble, 6UU feet in diameter at base, 


but very gradually diminisliing, as it rose upwards, 
until 10 feet above high-water was reached, where a 
level " platform " would be formed 50 feet in diameter. 
This cone would be raised by dropping millions of tons 
of rubble and stone into the sea, just as the foundations 
of Plymouth and Portland Breakwaters were formed ; 
only here on the Goodwins, it would, of course, be im- 
pojisible to erect a " staging " on piles as at Portland ; 
but barges prepared purposely would have been 
employed. When the circular cone was completed, 
Mr. Stevenson proposed to construct a timber light- 
house, consisting of a small room for the light-keepers 
surmounted by a gallery carrying the lantern. This 
was to be supported on a very strong frame resting on 
nine piles, strengthened by other piles starting from 
the four corners, and having a spread of about 70 or 
80 feet (see Section on opposite page). These piles 
would not pass into the sand at all, but would be 
inserted in the firm hard rubble cone ; and as they 
would be open above water, it was thought that they 
"would offer but little resistance to the sea, and their 
foundations being secured in the depths of the great 
■cone, it is quite possible that, had the experiment ever 
been tried, the scheme would have proved a remarkable 
success, and would have fully answered the expectations 
of its ingenious designer. 

One very great advantage possessed by this plan 
was that there were no mechanical fixtures, in the 
shape of caissons, tubes, or piles, inserted in the sand 
itself^ and which, having no hold in the loose shifting 
bank, would be liable to be soon destroyed by the 
ceaseless washing of the sea ; but the great cone being 

R 2 


formed of nibble and stone, tbe very flexibility of the 
material employed would adapt itself to the various 
changes of form consequent upon unequal settlement. 
It was also thought that if damage ensued the very 
ruins of the rubble cone would readily assist against 
further encroachments, and that the great width of 
the cone would effectually prevent the sea from reach- 
ing the lighthouse itself. This, however, is decidedly 
open to question, as the " platform " was only 10 feet 
above high water, and the light but 40 feet above the 
" platform " ; both should certainly have been con- 
siderably higher when the immense force of the sea on 
the Goodwins is remembered. The height of the cone 
from the sand level was proposed to be 80 feet to high 
water, and the light 50 feet above that ; total height 
to summit of structure from sand level, 130 feet. The 
probable cost was estimated at about £121,000. 

No scientific apparatus would have been required 
such as cofier-dams, caissons, diving-bells, or divers; 
and, as the plan was of the simplest nature, the most 
ordinary unskilled labour alone would have been needed 
to have worked the lighters carrying the stone to be 
dropped into the sea for building up the great cone. 

Mr. Stevenson's plan is remarkable for its extreme 
simplicity, and is perhaps about the only one calculated 
to make any lasting impression on the Goodwin Sands. 
A question, however, of some anxiety here presents 
itself, and that is, remembering Sir J. H. Felly's 
experiment, which showed that firm chalk was reached 
only at a depth of 78 feet, won] 1 the loose sand, gravel, 
clay, sea-shells, etc., of which the Goodwins ap})ear to be 
composed, bear the weight of this enormous rubble cone 


ucufh Sand &iad 

*■ hiahl Skcp 



(Six groj'nes marked =.) 


without allowing the whole to sink bodily down ? It is 
a different matter altogether with the breakwaters of 
Plymouth and Portland, where the huge rubble bank 
rests on a hard smooth clay bottom, very dissimilar 
indeed to a soft, porous, spongy sand. 

As Mr. Stevenson's plan was so simple, and yet so 
feasible, it is much to be regretted that it was never 

Caj^tain Vetch's Breakivater, or '^ Spinal Emhanlcmenty 

Of the many schemes which have been propounded 
at various periods for lighting, buoying, or otherwise 
(by means of beacons) distinctly marking out the 
Goodwin Sands, perhaps one of the most extraordinary 
on record was that proposed by Captain Vetch, Pi.E., 
which, for boldness and originality of design, is perhaps 
unequalled ; for he not only intended to make the lauds 
visible, and thereby far safer, but by reclaiming them 
to turn them into a real breakwater — although to talk 
of reclaiming these desolate Sands, would, at first sight, 
appear to be a task about as wild and Utopian as it was 
useless and impossible. 

Such a scheme, however, was proposed by the gen- 
tleman just named, who, in the year 18-44, published 
a pamphlet setting forth his views, in clear and ex- 
pressive language, as to the utility and practicability of 
reclaiming these Sands, not, of course^ with the view to 
cultivating such desolate swamps, but Avith the ingenious 
and novel idea of forming them into an island, and 
thereby creating first an enormous breakwater, and next 
an equally enormous harbour of refuge of the waters 


lying between them and the shore — the Downs in fuct ; 
for Captain Yetch was of opinion that the best harbours 
for all purposes are those formed by an island lying 
near the mainland, with the channel between sheltered 
by projecting points or banks ; and if it is possible, by 
any reasonable means, to convert these Sands into an 
island, as suggested, the Downs would be thus rendered 
one of the best and most extensive of harbours of refuge 
in the kingdom. Nor would this be the only advantage, 
for by turning these barrier sandbanks into an island 
by raising their crest above high-water mark, they 
would be always visible, and therefore no longer a 
liidden danger. To build on foundations laid by nature, 
when at all practicable, is obviously better policy than 
to extend long piers or breakwaters into deep water for 
the purpose of enclosing an anchorage, as at Portland, 
Holyhead, and other places, not only without any 
assistance from natural circumstances, but j^ossibly in 
direct opposition to them. The great question therefore 
was how to raise the crest of the Goodwin Sands above 
high- water mark j and this Captain Vetch proposed to 
do by a most original and iugenious plan, which maybe 
thus roughly described : — 

It was proposed to build a " spinal embankment" 
down the centre, and along the most elevated ridge of 
the Sands throughout their whole length. This was 
to be constructed of square frames, I'l foet each way, 
formed of strong iron rods 15 feet long ; 7^ feet to be 
sunk in the sand, and Ih feet to remain above, and 
arranged 1 foot apart, and so forming a square frame 
of the above measurement. The interior space was to 
be floored with hurdles, and the sides of the square 


lined with fascines firmly secured. It was supposed by 
the inventor that, by the operation of the tides and the 
sea, the sand woukl be continually accumulating around, 
and within, such a contrivance as this, which would be 
erected for the express purpose of catching and re- 
taining it. When sufficient sand had been heaped up 
inside and outside this square to reach the top of the 
first row of fascines, then a second flonr of hurdles, and 
a second row of upright fascines round the sides was 
to be introduced, and so on until the square was quite 
filled, when a second tier of iron rods, 8 feet long, would 
be keyed into the tops of the first, and this new square 
treated exactly like the one beneath, and a barrier of 
15 feet in height would thus be raised composed of 
materials not affording any solid resistance to the waves, 
but calculated to receive and retain the sand, on either 
side, as thrown up by the sea. 

It was proposed that this " spinal embankment " 
should consist of two rows, 36 feet apart, formed of 
hundreds of these squares of exactly similar size and 
construction, the two rows to be bonded together by 
similar squares at stated intervals, and by the forma- 
tion of these numerous cells, between the two rows, 
it is calculated that every facility would be offered for 
the accumulation and retention of sand, which would 
be continually increasing, and never decreasing, year 
by year ; and thus, in the course of time, a vast bank of 
extraordinary solidity would be formed, constituting one 
of the largest and finest breakwaters in the world. 
One of the most remarkable features in this plan is its 
extreme simplicity ; iron rods, hurdles, and fascines, to 
be counted by thousands, being the only materials 


employed ; the sand, helped by the sea, doing all the 

The chief hindrance to the successful carrying out of 
this plan would appear to be the extreme difficulty, at 
the very outset, of fixing the rods and forming the 
squares along the whole length of these treacherous 
shifting sands, for the tide is down only three hours at 
a time, and the chances are that before the work was 
sufficiently perfected to be capable of resistance it 
would be destroyed by the violence of the rising waters. 

This circumstance, together with the shifting nature 
of the sand, and the power and force of the sea, have 
always been the great, and apparently insurmountable, 
difficulties which all engineers have experienced to the 
full whilst engaged in the praiseworthy, but almost 
hopeless, work of endeavouring to place any sort of 
permanent erection on the Goodwin Sands, as the 
reader will already have seen in the chapters on 
Beacons and Lightships. 

The cost of Captain Vetch's ingenious scheme was 
roughly estimated at £507,000, and the probable time 
required for the construction of the embankment ahout 
four or five years. Whether it was the great estimated 
cost, which would doubtless have been nearly doubled 
before the work was completed, tliat alarmed the 
authorities, or whether the great originality of the 
scheme itself raised a doubt as to its practicability, 
it is difficult to say; but it is certain that no attempt 
was ever made to carry out this most remarkable and 
ingenious design. 


Building on SunJcen Wells. 

Another scheme, almost as remarkable as the last 
for its originality and simplicity, was proposed by a 
writer, under the signature of the single letter "M.," 
in the Civil Engineers' and Architects' Journal of 1843. 
This was to construct on the Good^\■ins a vast and solid 
base of masonry, on which might be subsequently raised 
a lighthouse, tower, or beacon, or indeed anything else 
that might be determined on, the writer confining his 
proposal strictly to the building of the huge square 
foundation in the first place. He begins by saying, 
truly enough, that " he who builds a lighthouse on the 
Goodwin Sands builds an imperishable name and a 
monument to his fame, not only as a skilful and 
successful architect, but also as the enviable deliverer 
of thousands, and most probably tens of thousands, of 
his fellow creatures from the jaws of destruction." 
The writer then proceeds to criticise Mr. Bush's scheme 
for the construction of his " Light for all Nations " (see 
page 121) which, he says, was excellent enough in 
itself, but that Mr. Bush's great mistake appears to 
have been that no experimental boraigs had besn 
previously made in order to ascertain the exact depth 
of the saud before he began operations. The consequence 
was that " he launched his caisson on an unknown void, 
to rest eventually on he knew not what." Now, in the 
plan under consideration, this preliminary step is un- 
necessary, except so far as choosing a site upon which 
to commence the works. The plan is then detailed 
at length, which we give in the writer's own words. 


" The site being chosen, let A, B, C, D, be a given 
square, the angle A being towards the most violent 
action of the waves : — At E, the centre of the square, let 
a circular well about 8 feet in diameter be commenced, 
the masonry, about 2 feet thick, to be firmly cemented 
together, and so secured as to resist the pressure it 
must experience as it descends. Commencing at the 
lowest depth convenient, let the building be rapidly 
carried on until above high-water mark, still continuing 
it as the lower portion disappears, every means being 
used to facilitate its descent should this be requisite. 
There is little doubt, however, of the building gradually 
sinking, the increasing weight giving the necessary 
impetus to its descent, and thus must it continue 
without reference to the depth, until it meets the 
consolidated bed on which the quicksands rest.* This 
object attained, the sand is then abstracted from the 
well, and after the foundations are properly examined 
the whole is to be filled up with solid masonry. 

" Having, by this central well, ascertained the depth 
of the saud and the nature of the lower bed, proceed to 
form wells of magnitude and strength proportioned to 
the depth of the sand to be passed through, at points 
A, B, 0, D, and simultaneously, or consecutively, the 
connecting wells, to be filled up in like manner. 

Thus a coffer dam of solid masonry will be formed, 

from the midst of which the sand, if not very deep [? 78 

feet], may be abstracted, and solid masonry introduced 

in lieu thereof, binding the whole as one vast solid 

foundation capable of supporting a noble edifice." 

* This " consolidated bed," according to Sir J. H. Felly's experi- 
ment, would be just 78 feet down below the surface! 


The wells and the foundation being complete, the 
writer then proposes to lay immense blocks of stone 
thereon, and continuing the erection for full 1 "2 feet above 
high-water mark, on which the shaft of the lighthouse, 
or other superstructure, may be easily raised, and which 
would be left to the taste or skill of the engineer. The 
writer concludes by stating that " this idea of building 
on quicksands is not original, for during my travels 
in India my admiration has been more than once 
excited by vast piles of solid masonry having their 
foundations laid within dry quicksand — a much more 
difficult undertaking, I presume, than building upon 
the Goodwins, which, from their compactness, must 
offer great opposition to the intrusion of bodies of this 
nature. The beautiful Scotch Church at Madras may 
also be quoted as having its foundations laid within the 
quicksand, being pillared on a great number of wells, as 
suggested by native architects." 

Whilst agreeing with the apparent practicability of 
this novel and original idea, I fail, however, to discover 
the grounds on which the writer "J\J," can rest his 
singular opinion that to build on " dry quicksand," 
situated on terra fir ma, would be a more difficult task 
than a similar building operation on the Goodwins out 
at sea, which are only dry for about three or four hours 
at a time, and are, at all others, covered with boisterous 
waves which are often lashed into terrible fury by the 
violence of the wind, destroying and overwhelming 
everything that comes in their way; ruining, in one 
short hour perhaps, the anxious and painful labour of 
many previous weeks, as was often the case during 
the building of the different beacons on these sands. 


This, at any rate, is an enemy that the Indian architects 
never had to contend with or provide against in their 
" dry quicksand " operations. Indeed,, it is just this, 
after all, and perhaps this only, and not so much the 
actual nature of the Sands themselves, that has always 
proved the great and real obstacle to any solid erection 
on these banks : the extreme difficulty of carrying on 
heavy work by reason of the very short time the tide 
allows for building operations of any kind, the work 
being often destroyed by the sea before it is sufficiently 
advanced to offer any substantial resistance. And so 
precisely it would be with these wells ; for it is more 
than probable that, before they could be pushed suf- 
ficiently forward to resist the waves, they would, over 
and over again, be covered by the rising tide, and thus 
filled up with water and sand, and the unfinished 
masonry loosened and disjointed, if not indeed washed 
away and destroyed altogether. 

The writer concludes by stating that the expense 
of erecting his proposed wells would be comparatively 
trifling, and wholly unworthy of consideration, taking 
into account the vast importance to life and property 
of so " truly great, noble and national an undertaking 
as the erection of a lighthouse on the Goodwin Sands." 

Ber-laiminp the Brake Sand. 

A scheme was proposed by the late Sir John Eennie, 
C.E., to reclaim the sandbank which lies to the north- 
west of the Goodwins (see Chart, page 1 ), so far as to 
convert it into a breakwater, and so make a sort of 


harbour of refuge of the Small Downs. But the 
scheme seems never to have attracted much notice, and 
was ultimately abandoned altogether. 

The commissioners for the " Survey of Harbours on 
the South-East Coast," in their report, gave up the idea 
altogether of forming a breakwater along this sand, in 
consequence of the small depth of water and the un- 
certain foundations. They also reported against the 
scheme of forming a harbour at Sandwich, which they 
considered quite impracticable on account of the vast 
bank of shingle which is continually moving northward 
in tne direction of prevailing winds. 

A Fortification on the Goodwins. 

It may not be generally known that the great Duke 
of Wellington had cast his eyes on the Goodwin Sands 
as a site — not for a beacon or lighthouse — but for a for- 
tification. The subject was referred to by his Grace 
when giving his evidence before the "Shipwreck 
Committee of the House of Commons " about the year 
1843, when, speaking of harbours of refuge, he took 
occasion to observe that " the extensive application of 
steam to maritime purposes would effect an important 
change in naval warfare," and his Grace then went on 
to suggest the " possibility of constructing places of 
defence on the Goodwin Sands for the special protection 
of the Downs and the Channel, as well as on other and 
such-like banks upon our coasts for the protection of 
our trade generally." The Duke, it will be remembered, 
was, for a long period, Lord Warden of the Cinque 


Ports, and resided at ^^'almer Castle, which is situated 
right opposite the Sands ; so that they, and their 
position in the Channel, must have been perfectly well 
known and familiar to his Grace — and his suggestion 
was, possibly, the outcome, of that knowledge : but it 
was never acted on, or even discussed. 

Proposals and Plans for Buildinr/ Operations on the 
Goodiviii Sands suhnitted to the Trinity House 
since 1845. 

I offer no apology for giving the whole of the 
following rather lengthy list of proposals, schemes, 
and suggestions for engineering works on the 
Goodwins, inasmuch as some of them are so ex- 
travagantly absurd that they will be read with 
interested curiosity by most peoj)le, but especially by 
professional men, who will hardly fail to be much 
amused by the extraordinary and impossible nature of 
many of these singular suggestions. One thing is quite 
evident, and that is, that the majority of the ingenious 
proposers knew just nothing at all of the real character 
of the Goodwin Sands, or of their true formation. 

1845. bir S. Brown, London. — To erect a bioiizc coluiuu lor a 

lighthouse ai a cost of £11,000. 
„ L'ev. F. A. Glover. — Plan for a foundation on sand or rock 
for lighthouse or beacon, at any depth. 

1846. J. De la Ilaye, Liverpool. — To sink six iron shafts, each in 

an iron cylinder, to be sunk by afmosiiheric pressure, 
and bound together by hoops or rings, so that the sea 
parses through. 
J847. C., Westminsttr. — A huge iron l>ase and anchors for 
mooring floating lightships, &c. 
„ Bolton Bolton, Fimlico. — To build a- lighthouse, and convert 
tlie Sands into a harbour of refuge. Estimate, £b2,000. 


1847. W. N. Clay, Owjar. — To build a foundation for recovery of 

Sauds. (?) 
„ G. Shej'herd, C.E., London. — To construct a lighthouse on 
the Sands on Dr, Putts' plan. 

1848. J. De la Eaye, Liverpool. — To construct lighthouse of iron 

cylinders in 12 pieces, 200 feet in diameter, covered with 

timber ; lighthouse to be of sheet-iron. A gradient to be 

formed of iron bars for waves to roll up. Interior to be 

filled with stones. 
„ W. Vincent, Birmingham. — To place open piles, hollow at 

lower end, loaded with heavy ballast, spreading out from 

centre and secured with chains, to form foundations. 
„ D. McGill & J. Horend. — To build breakwater and lighthouse 

on base, 600 feet square. Cost, £580,000. Or ou smaller 

scale, £68,000. 
„ G. V. Eedman, London. — To build fort on the Sands with 

lighthouse attached. Submitted also to the Duke of 

„ J. Goldfinch, London. — To construct lighthouse on the Sands, 

with a sailors' c/io/seZ annexed. To be of cast iron, resting 

on luood piles. 
„ Eev. J. B. Bohinson. — Asking: as to the possibility of erecting 

a lighthouse on the Sands, and how it is to be done. 
„ B. Banner. — To construct floating (?) brtaUwateis ou the 

Sai.ds, so to form a harbour of refuge within, and having 

advanced lights. 

1849. E. Evans, Dorking. — Submits a peculiar plan for erecting a 


„ E. Harhord. — Proposing a vast circular iron plate of 60 feet 
in diameter at bottom, another, 30 feet in diameter, above 
it, connected with eight iron pillars, 50 feet long, planked 
up by 10 feet, and filled with 200 tons of stone. This 
was to be floated out, sunk, and moored with great anchors. 
On the top was to be a circular light. 

„ W. King, London. — Submits a plan for lighthouse. 

„ Duval Birun, Baris. — Proposed an iron well to be built up, 
27 feet in diameter, formed of vertical bands, built as a 
" double skin." To be sunk in the sand, which was then 
to be dredged out. The platform on the top to rest on 
hollow pillars filled with concrete. Over all was to be a 


lighthouse, 98 feet above the water. Estimate, £7000. 
[Possibly supjiiested by Bush's Caissons.] 

1850. J. E. Serrall, New York, — Pro|iosed to place a vast crate, 

150 feet in diameter, of either copper or iron, braced 
witii diagonals, with inner circles 15 feet apart. The 
centre tube to be 15 feet in diameter. The crate to be 
filled with rubble except the centre shaft, and fresh crates 
to be added as the first ones sank. down. Ligli;h>use on 
top to carry three vertical lights. Estimate, £100,000. 

„ £. Armstrong, Poplar. — To construct lighthouse by means 
of water-tight caisson, floated out and sunk by atmospheric 
pressure. To be 100 feet in diameter, in eight water-tight 
compartments, filled with concrete. To consist of two 
spheres, inner and outer. On the top of the outer sphere 
the lighthouse to be placed, whilst a steam engine to be 
placed in the interior. [The particular use of the engine 
is not mentioned.] 

„ A. Eohinson, C.E., London. — Proposes to erect a lighthouse 
on either rock, sand, or gravel, in the course of one rveek. 
The main shaft to be of iron, the lower end fitted in a cast 
iron plate. Into the upper end is keyed a wrought iron 
shaft to receive platform. The standard to be supported 
by moorin,' it to crabs or struts. The outer crab to be 
connected with the inner by lever, and the outer mooring 
chains to be connected with that lever. £1500, estimated 

„ G. Orazehrooh, Liverpool. — Proposed tliat a lightliouse should 
be built on Sands at the expense of the Trinity House, 
and if it answers, that he should be paid £100,000 for his 
plan and suggestions ! [A most considerate proposal 

1851. S. Borras, Liverpool. — Propo.«ed a vast iron cofl'er-dam 

should be erected, to be filled inside with stone, to'carry 
an iron lighthouse at top. [Bush's idea again.] 

„ T. E. Smith, London. — Proposed to sink a tube into the 
sand, and through this to pass an iron standard, which 
was to be soldered on to the " rock " ! [" Rock " on the 
0(>(i(lwins !] 

„ IL Hdrhonl. — A rod, \\ inch in di:imcter, to be forced 
" through " the chulk ; and around this rod, at proper 


disiances, stones are to be thrown in, so as to form a coae ! 
[Very original indeed !] 

1852. Admiral Tai/?or.— Proposed to erect on the Sands a " Ship- 

wreck Asylum," but omitted to state whether floating;, or 
fixed, or otherwise. 

„ The Earl of Bundonald. — To form foundations by combining 
melted bitumen from Trinidad, with sand and gravel, 
pouring it on sandbanks and shoals for foundations. The 
plan showed a cone with extended base, and surrounding 
sand, conglomerated with petroleum, to form a submerged 
rampart. [Xot unlike Stevenson's " Rubble Cone."] 

„ (x. Sinclair, London. — Proposed to erect a lighthouse on 
Sands on the plan of Plymouth Breakwater. 

,, C. James, London. — To sink a shaft at a spot on the Sands 
nearest the shore; cut a permanent tunnel from the shore 
and from thence work upnvard! [Through both Sands 
and Sea ! !J 

^, G. B. Martin, Jfrt«(?s<onP.— Submitted a plan for laying 
foundations on Goodwin Sands. 

„ W. Barley, Sheerness. — To erect lighthouses on the Good- 
wins and on the Nore. Designs submitttd. 

1853. J. S. Morris, iowrfoH.— Submitting plans tor building light- 

house on loose and sandy foundations. 

1854. J. E. !::taiiford. — To erect a peculiar sia-mark on sands. 

1856. J. Xeale, C/ia<An??i.— Proposed to float out large iron vessels 

filled with concrete, to bt; sunk in the Sands as foundations 

for piers or lighthouses. [Not new.] 
„ W. K. Hall, io?u?o?i.— Submitted a model for a proposed 

lighthouse on usual plan. 
„ 7?. SP-nnei, i?/""-— Submitted a "new"(?) principle for 

foundation ibr lighthouse. 

1857. E. Chard, C.E., i?r7x!!o«.— Proposed a cylinder of sheet-iron, 

100 leet in diameter, and 50 feet high. (3n outside of this 
■ to bennother cylinder, same diumtter at base, but 150 feet 
at top, thus forming a circular wedge to work its way 
through the sand down to the " rock." To be floated 
out and sunk, and afterwards the inti-rior filled up with 
stones find concrete. 
„ W. S. Aalihy, C7ieZ^ea.— Proposes to submit a ijlan for building 
on Sands. 



„ J. Austin, V.E., London. — Submits proposal for '' imperisli- 
abie" stone blocks for building lighthouse foundations, 
with "cast-iron annular ring, double-flanged, and trough- 
snnked, to receive dove-taihd stone blocks, to form foot' ng 
for foundations " on any soft or sandy beds. [This scheme 
was especially referred to Mr. J. Walker, engineer to the 
Trinity Corporation, for his opinion.] 

1857. T. K. Winder. — Submitted a plan for building a lighthou-e 

on Sands. [Xothing new proposed.] 

1858. Lie>'f. E. Manico, B.N., London. — Proposed to construct 

foundations for building on Snnds liy means of his patent 
"Caisson de fer." [But had not 13ush alreadv such fi 
pa'ent ?] 

( 259 ) 


No. 1, page 5. 

Dr. Poffs' Process for sinking Hollow Piles. 

For this most iugeuious process hollow tubes, or piles, 
may be formed of any material, and almost any shape. 
The lower extremity of the pile is open, and the upper 
one fitted with a cover, in communication with a 
powerful air-pump. It is placed upon the bank or 
ground, whether composed of sand, shingle, mud, clay^ 
bog, or other material, in any moist situation, or under 
deep water. From the tube or hollow pile the air is 
exhausted by pumps, or any other mode which will 
produce wdiat we call suction; being, in fact, the 
removal of the pressure of the atmosphere, and the 
partial formation of a vacuum. 

When the air is withdrawn, the shingle, sand, or 
mud flow up this tube, the rush of water from below 
undermines the lower edges of the tube, which then 
descends by its own gravity and the pressure of the 
atmosphere on its upper extremity. The transporting 
powder of the water, as it rushes up the hollow pipe, is 
found sufficient to raise even large shingle, removing it 

s 2 


upwards to allow the pile to sink deeper and deeper, 
as the soil is put in motion below, by the process of 
exhaustion as carried on above. As often as the tube 
is filled the contents are discharged by a suction pipe, 
or other means ; and not only the solid particles but 
the water may be removed from the interior of the 
tube, and a succession of tubes may be added to the 
first by means of screws and flanges, or otherwise. 
The shape of the tubes may be cylindrical, angular 
or conical, so as to fit each other, and form a con- 
tinuous line or wall that may vary in size as may 
b.e required. 

The great value of this discovery will be at once 
evident for the formation of the foundation of any 
kind of marine construction — harbours, docks, light- 
houses, or beacons. It can be applied with ease and 
rapidity, not only where the ordinary modes of 
proceeding are of diflicult execution, but when the 
employment of the means hitherto known is practically 

It will be seen by reference to the context, that a 
tube 2 feet 6 inches in diameter was forced to the 
depth of 78 feet down into the Sands, where Admiral 
Beaufort could only force a steel bar 8 feet with a 
sledge-hammer. Admiral Bullock found that a pointed 
iron rod only 3 inches in diameter, at the depth of 
13 feet in the sand, took forty-six blows of a monkey 
of 1 cwt., with a 10 feet fall, to drive it down 1 in-"' ! 
This clearly exhibits the important fact that the 
Goodwin Sands are not so easily penetrated, from their 
surface downward to the solid chalk, although that 
opinion has been often somewhat freely expressed ; nor, 


as generally supposed, does the chalk bed lie at the 
depth of only 8 feet. 

Sir J. H. Felly's experiment of October, 1849, found 
the clay bed at 78 feet below the surface ; but an inves- 
tigation had already taken place during the month of 
July in the same year, when a tube of 2 feet G inches 
in diameter was forced down to the depth of GO feet 
and, of course, no foundation was discovered, and the 
experiment was a failure, because the operators did not 
go low enough. 

No. 2, page 16. 
Waste of Cliffs — Encroachments of Sea. 

Reculvers. — The Rev. Sir John Cullum, Bart., 
writing in 1782 (quoted by Duncombe in his account 
of Eeculvers), says : " The cliff is continually crumbling 
away, particularly in winter time, and falling on the 
beach, where the children of the neighbourhood pick 
up Roman coins, but often so corroded that they are 
not worth purchasing. The crumbling away of the 
cliff on which the Church of Reculvers stands is become 
so alarming, that I am informed this year (1783) that 
some means are to be employed to stop the evil." 

Duncombe says : " The Roman town of Regulbium 
has been long covered by the sea, which last winter 
threw down the remains of the north side of the old 
Roman wall which surrounded the castle, and makes 
such rapid inroads on the cliff that great part of it, 
with a house and farmyard adjoining to it, standing 


within the memory of man, was lately thrown down, 
that it has been long apprehended that this noble 
structure and sea-mark (the church) with all the 
level below it, notwithstanding the great attentions 
and expense bestowed on it in planking, piling, &c., by 
the Commissioners of Sewers, will, in a few years, share 
the fate of the Eoman town above mentioned." 

Captain Sir Thomas Hyde Page, E.N., however, 
executed some works here about this time (1780) which 
proved very useful in checking the inroads of the sea 
— for a time at any rate. 

The two western towers of the church are the only 
existing remains of the ancient structure, and those 
would have perished long ago, as the sea has already 
reached the foot of the bank or cliif on which they 
stand, had they not been most carefully j)rotected by 
the erection of groynes and stonework on the beach by 
the Trinity House, as they now belong to that Cor- 
poration, and are used as sea-marks. 

A pretty and romantic legend is connected with the 
restoration of these towers, about the year 1499-1500, 
which runs as follows : — 

The two daughters of Sir Geoflrey St. Clare were 
left, at their father's death, to the guardianship of his 
brother, John St. Clare, the Lord Abbot of S. Augustine's, 
Canterbury. The eldest. Lady Frances, became the 
Lady Abbess of the Poor Nuns of Davington (in Kent), 
the younger. Lady Isabella, was betrothed to Sir 
Henry de Beluille, a gallant knight who fought and 
fell with Kichard III. on Bosworth field. The dis- 
consolate bride-elect at once took the veil in her 
sister's convent, and for fourteen years these ladies 


lived peaceful and happy lives, until, about 1499, a 
fearful fever broke out in the convent and neighbour- 
hood, the Lady Abbess herself being a severe sufferer, 
'The two sisters registered a solemn vow that, if ilie 
disease should abate, they would make a pilgrimage to. 
4ind present an offering at, the shrine of S. Mary the 
"Virgin, Bradstow (Broadstairs), at that period a place 
of great sanctity. They accordingly sailed from 
Faversham, but the same night a terrible storm came 
on, and their ship was wrecked off Reculvers. The 
Abbess reached the shore in safety, but it was not 
until the morning that her sister was rescued, and then, 
half dead with cold and fright, the Lady Isabella only 
reached land to die in her sister's arms. The Abbess, 
however, made her pilgrimage alone and on foot, and 
fully carried out her vow, and on her return at once 
restored the two towers of the ancient church of 
Eeculver, under whose shadow the Lady Isabella 
already lay sleeping, and where the Lady Frances 
herself, eleven years afterwards, was entombed by her 
side. It is said that the towers were thenceforth 
known as the " Two Sisters," and looked upon as a 
monument raised by the piety and affection of a loving 
woman for a devoted sister. 

Tradition commonly allows that this famous Roman 
fortress Eegulbium was founded on a rock situated at 
least three miles inland, but was destroyed by some 
great convulsion of the sea, possibly the same wliich 
destroyed the Portus Eutupinus, converting that 
fine estuary into a low marshy flat, and the Euochini 
Insula into a part of the mainland. This rock, said 
to be covered with solid masonry, once Eegulbium, may 

2()-i APPENDIX. 

still be seen beneath the water at very low tides. 
Margate Sands, too, now far out in the sea, were all,, 
doubtless, once part of the mainland as their peculiar 
names testify. The " Woolpack " and the " Horse "' 
Avere possibly the sites of the markets where wool and 
horses were once sold ; the other Sands are known as 
" The Last," " The Hook," " The Land," and " Whit- 
stable Street." 

liamsgate and Neif/hhourhood. —During Admiral Lord 
Keith's residence at East Cliff Lodge, near Eamsgate, 
the Princess of Wales (afterwards Queen Caroline), 
paid hitn a visit, and during her stay some troops 
were paraded between the garden wall and the edge 
of the cliff, and marched past Her Royal Highness 
in columns of companies. That garden wall was, in 
1850, falling over the precipice, and it has now 
disappeared altogether, the waste of the coast having,, 
it is said, averaged fully two feet annually ! 

About a mile further on, at Dumpton Stairs, was also 
the remains of a Eoman wall which is now entirely 
gone, but Eoman coins and pottery are still found 
between that point and Eamsgate Harl)our. 

Captain Martin says that, in his time, very old 
fishermi'U remember the cliff at Broadstairs extending 
nearly 100 feet further out, but the sea wore it 
into hollows and arches. In the year 1836 one of 
those formed a cool retreat from the heat of the sun, 
but tliree years afterwards it was destroyed by the 
waves during a heavy gale of wind. 

The shrine of " Our Lady of Bradstow," and the 
" broad stairs " leading up to it, were, very many years 
ago, washed away, and the mariner now no longer 


lowers his topsails as he passes in token of salutation 
to the Holy Virgin, the "Star of the Sea," at the 
shrine at " Bradstow," as it was anciently called. 

At Kingsgate, beyond Broadstairs, the arch formerly 
dedicated to St. Bartholomew is long since gone, and 
the public-house there which, in the memory of many 
persons still living, had a garden in front and a 
carriage road running past, has entirely disappeared — 
road, garden, house, and all. 

Mr. Fairholm estimates the waste of Eamsgate cliiis 
at 4000 feet since the date of CaRsar's invasion ; this 
would, therefore, average about 222 feet per century^ 
a waste which, if slow, is apparently quite sure ; and 
a waste which it seems very difficult, if not nearly 
impossible, to arrest with anything like certainty. 

Sandoicn Castle. — This castle was once completely 
surrounded by a moat, but that part next the sea was^ 
as already stated, entirely destroyed, partly by tho 
constant encroachments of the sea, and partly, in 1785, 
during a violent storm, which filled up the moat 
nearly to the castle walls with sand and shingle. The 
writer can well remember when, about thirty-six 
years ago, the castle stood well back from the sea, 
above the beach ; and a drawing which he made of it 
at that time shows the castle in sucli a position ; but 
this space has long disappeared. The waves, being 
thoroughly masters of the situation, would soon have 
left not "one stone upon another," had not the 
Government determined to remove it altogether, as 
mentioned in the text, 

A pleasant and commodious esplanade was con- 
structed some years ago, starting from the south jside 


of the castle, and leading very nearly np to tlie present 
Coast Guard Station ; but more tlian half of the 
northern portion has fallen a victim to the relentless 
and encroaching tide, and is now entirely destroyed, 
no trace of it even remaining. Verily the sea is an 
exacting and terrible master ! 

No. 3, page 19. 

Riehhorough Castle. 

The remains of this grand old fortress, " the theatre 
of the opening scenes of English History," and the 
first ever constructed by the Komans in Britain, lie a 
little to the north-west of Sandwich. The castle was 
intended for the defence of the great Portus Rutupinus, 
and the Rutupine shore adjacent ; and is said to have 
been constructed by Stilicho, a military engineer, 
serving under Vespasian. The square enclosed by the 
walls, three sides of which are still standing, measures 
just five acres. These walls are 12 feet thick, and 
vary from 20 to 30 feet in height, and are built, with 
beautiful regularity, cf blocks of chalk, boulder, and 
sandstone from Beachy Head, fronted with granite 
laid in seven courses, each 4 feet wide, connected 
together by double rows of red or yellow tiles and 
mortar, hard as a solid rock. Internally the walls 
were faced with flint, and externally with regular 
courses of square grit and stone, bonded by double 
rows of largo flat tiles. At regular intervals strong 


towers Avere placed, mostly square in form, and all 
have loop-holes for the use of watchful guards. The 
three walls each measure nearly 500 feet in length. 
'The castle appeared to have possessed four gates : — 
the Decuman gate in the west wall ; the Porta Prin- 
cipalis in the north wail ; the Praetorian, opposite the 
Decuman, in the wall on the Cliff of the Estuary — 
now disappeared ; and one other in the south wall. It 
has been stated that coins to the incredible number of 
140,000 have been found in and about the castle ; and 
this would seem to bear out the suggestion of Fabius 
Ethelwert, as to burying money by the Eomans when 
they left the country. 

The Eev. Mackenzie Walcott has the following- 
graceful lines in reference to this interesting ruin : — 

" The cornfield flourishes close beneath the ramparts, 
the ash and wild trees pierce through the fissured 
walls, which are clad with creeping plants. Under 
the broken heaps of masonry flows a narrow river down 
to the shore and marshes, where the fields of long- 
tasselled reed grass — worthy of Camilla's dainty feet — 
murmur in the wind, and ripple over like a wavy sea ; 
where, too, dyke and channel yet remain to show the 
labour of the monks. In the rents of the once strong 
bastions, from whence the sentinel challenged all 
•comers in the mother tongue of lordly Piome, whilst 
the walls were lined with the soldiers of the Empire, 
the farmer now lays his ploughshare, or the wandering 
gipsy shelters from the storm." 

It is worthy of note that Eichborough has its exact 
counterpart in the remains of another magnificent 
Eoman fortress, the ancient " Gcria.ionum," now 


called " Burgh Castle," near Yarmouth, Norfolk. It is 
not impossible that this also was the work of Stilicho, 
or some of his pupils or disciples, from its close resem- 
blance to Eichborough in plan, build, and position. To 
both these grand ruins the words of the poet may be 
applied with perfect truth : — 

" These towers, yet 

Unmodemized by tasteless art, remain 
Still unsubdued by time ! " 

This fine work (Richborough) was intended, not only 
for the protection of the Portus Rutupinus. but also 
for the adjacent city, the Urbs Rutupise, which must 
have been a place of considerable importance, and 
possibly of great wealth, as it was the city of the 
largest port or station of Roman Britain. It was 
evidently thought a great deal of, as it is mentioned by 
all Roman writers who have treated of British affairs, 
amongst whom may be mentioned Lucan, Juvenal, and 
Ausonius, in poetry ; Tacitus, Ammianus, Marcellinus^ 
and Orosius, in prose; Ptolemy in geography, and 
Antoninus in the Itinerary. 

No. 4, page l!'2. 
Earl Godioines Death. 

The accounts of Godwine's death vary. By the 
Normans and their adherents, he w'as denounced as a 
rebel and an enemy, because he simply acted as a 
statesman and patriot, and endeavoured to preserve 
England for the English, steadily opposing the whole- 


sale introduction of the Norman element by Edward 
the Confessor. The well-known story of his death by 
sudden choking at Eastertide, on the 15th of Ajn-il, 
1053, when dining with Edward at Winchester, after 
iis reconciliation with that monarch, was evidently 
written under Norman influence, as it brings forward 
the old accusation, which Godwine always so strenuously 
denied, of his participation in the horrible murder of 
the Etheling Prince Elfrede, son of King Ethelred II., 
and his companions, under circumstances of revolting 
barbarity. The chronicler says : " As Erie Godwine 
sate at mete with Kynge Edward, it happened one of 
the cuppe bearers to stumble and recover agen, so that 
he dide sheade none of the drynke ; whereat Godwine 
lowgh and sayeth, ' See now that how one broder hath 
susteigned the other ; ' [i.e., one foot saved the other] 
with whiche wordes the Kynge calling to mind his 
broder's death, that was slaine by Godwine, behelde 
the Erie, saying, ' So should my broder Elfrede have 
hoipen mee, nee had Godwine been.' Godwine, then, 
fearinge the Kynge's displeasure to be newlye kindled, 
after many wordes in excusing himself, sayd, ' So 
mought I safely swallow this moresel of brede as I am 
giltlesse of the deede.' But, as soon as he had received 
the brede, forthwithe he was choked and diede." (See 
' Epitome of Chronicles.') 

Now, if he was really '' choked," he must have died 
within a few minutes on the spot ; Init the ' Saxon 
Chronicle ' says nothing of this story, but distinctly 
states that he died on the Thursday — that is, three 
days after his seizure. The passage runs as follows : — 
" In this year the King was at Winchester at Easter, 


and Godwine the Earl with him, and Hartdd the Earl 
his son. and Tosty. Then, on the second day of Easter 
(probaljly Easter Monday) sat he with the King at the 
Feast ; then suddenly sank he down by the foot-stool 
deprived of speecdi, and of all his power, and he was- 
then carried into the King's chamber, and they thought 
it would pass over ; but it did not do so, but he continued 
on, thus speechless and powerless, until the Thursday, 
and then resigned his life ; and he lies there within 
the old Minster ; and his son Harold succeeded to his 
Earldom." Two other accounts in the 'Saxon Chron- 
icle ' are also substantially the same as the above, and 
make no mention of the " choking story." But there is- 
still further the evidence of Alfred of Beverley {temp. 
Hen. I.) who says: — "Godwinus gravi morbo ex im- 
provise percussus, ac Regi ad mensam Wintonitij 
assiden-j, rautus in ipse sede declinavit ac postea in 
cameram Regis a filiis deportatus, moritur." 

Marianus the Scot, and Simeon the Chanter of 
Durham, state the same : — " Godwinus gravi morbo- 
purcussus. in ipsa sede declinavit, et post horas quin- 
que, moritur." These two evidejitly incline to the 
belief of disease, and not to choking. 

Lambarde, too, clearly discredits the '"choking"' 
incident. He says, " They feigned that he was choked 
at WiiJcdiester (or Windsore as others sav, for liers 
cannot lightly agree). Ealrcd, Abbot of Bynauxe, tells- 
this story, and about the brothers gives the King's 
reply : ' IVlarry,' quoth the King, ' so mote me mine nc 
haddest ilion been Earl Godwine'; but Godwine, de- 
claring liis innocence, put the breadc in liis moutlie, 
and was immediately strangled thcrc^Yitllall. Snmt- 


write that the breade was cursed of Walstane, Bishop of 
Worcester, but Ealred affirmeth that, after the words 
spoken by the Earl, the King himself blessed the 
breade with the holy signe of the Crosse, and therefore 
these men, as well together at blessing and cursing be 
one alike to another." 

Lambarde adds a farther and rather curious piece of 
information, when he tells us that the story of the 
slipping of the cup-bearer, and the witty remark 
which followed, is simply stolen, word for word, by 
Ealred, the abbot, from William of Malmesbury's ' De 
Eegibus,' wherein the very same thing is related as 
having occurred at the table of King Ethelstane. But 
Ealred was, it is believed, a great partisan of Edward 
the Confessor, and hence his adoption of the story, and 
his application of the incident, in order to make 
Godwine guilty lirst of the murder, and then of 
deliberate perjury and defiance of Heaven, for which, 
like Ananias of old, he receives a terrible and instant 

After reading the stories of these quaint old chroni- 
cles, we can arrive at but one conclusion, and that is 
that Godwine's death was simply occasioned by a sharp 
and sudden attack of apoplexy, or ])aralysis — but most 
likely the former — following upon a great feast which 
was accompanied, without any doubt, by very heavy 
drinking, according to the rough and brutal customs 
of that day, Godwine, too, it must be remembered,. 
was at that period very far advanced in years, and, 
perhaps, not then equal to so fierce a carousal. 

*272 ArPENDix. 

No. 5, page 23. 
The Godivine Legend. 

The legend tliat Godwine, being placed in great 
danger, made the vow referred to in the text, has been 
woven into a very pretty romantic ballad by the late 
Captain Martin of Kamsgate. 

The ballad opens with an introduction to the Earl 
and his followers, who are carousing in his island home 
of Lomea : 

"The sparkling; mead with riot crovvn'd 
Beams liii2;li iu Godwin's Hall; 
Tlic cliiertain's lofty roofs resound 

With triumph, shout, and brawl. 

Tlie bold sea-rovers there rechned, 

Their daring jn-owess boast, 
Whose uufurl'd pennon to the wind, 

Oft awed the neiglibouring coast. 

And all was juy and rcvelrie 

Around the feudal board; 
When stran.L^er sounds of minstrel.sie 

A silence deep restored. 

Unseen the hands which touched the chord, 

By holy music filled, 
"Whose well-known strains to Godwin's lord 

Ilis heart with horror tilled." 

G-odwine recognis(\- the music as that of his favourite 
harper, who was killed by his side in the attack on 
Milton, and takes it as a warning from the dead that 
his vows, made in the moment of danger and difli^ultv, 
had been all broken and forgotten. 

In a fit of remorse, he breaks up the feast and retires 
to his bed, but : 


" Prophetic fears and hafrgarcl sleep 
Around his pillow form 
Such shades as rest beneath the deep, 
Or rise upon the storm. 

The tempest comes — its midnight roar 

Fell on the warrior's ear; 
The bursting waves assault tlie shore, 

Strange voices ride the air." 

The Earl has a fearful dream. The northern 
"spirits of the storm" visit him; remind him of his 
broken vows, and tell him that the days of his island 
home are even now ended : 

" 15eliold I come ! the 'whelming seas 
Beneath my footsteps roar ; 
Hark ! fearful sound, thy destiny's 
No more ! iair Isle ! no more ! 

A dreadful shadow points thy doom. 

Thy day of glory's past; 
To wandering barks henceforth a tomb 

AVhere sailors shriek their last." 

" Amazed and horror-struck the Earl starts from sleep 
to find the vision only too true : 

"Haste, man the bark, the tocsin ring, 
A deluge pours around. 
The billows o'er the ramparts spring, 
And burst above the mound. 

Hoaise shouts are heard along the strand — 
Launch, launch, the storm-sail try — 

Eesistless seas invade the laud, 
Haste, to tlie vessels fly." 

The Earl and his followers fly for their lives, and 
when morning breaks an awful sight is revealed. The 
bulwarks, or sea-walls, have given way, and the once 



pretyt and fertile isle of Lomea is overwhelmed and 
destroyed for ever, and ultimately becomes the Goodwin 
Sands ! 

"'Too late,' he cries, 'ray broken vows, 
'r\w. ruined fields deform ; 
No more shall rovers there carouse. 
Or shelter from the storm.' 

On Stour's fair banks retired he dwelt, 

And found a refuge there; 
And daily "with contrition knelt 

In penitence and prayer." 

The closing- stanza refers jiossibly to another legend^ 
that Earl Godwine became a hermit and dwelt near 
Minster, and died there in the "odour of sanctity "j 
that is, a person named " Godwine " may have so lived 
and died, but of course it was not the great Earl. 

No. 6, page 26, 
SandiricJi Haven. 

In the year 1483. an accident befell a great Spanish 
ship belonging to Pope Paul IL, which was, in conse- 
quence, sunk at the mouth of the Haven, by which the 
flow of the tide was choked up, and sand and mud 
gathered round the wreck in great quantities. 

Leland, referring to this circumstance, says : " The 
' Caryke,' that was sonke in the Haven in Pope Paulus 
time, dide nnich hurt to the Haven, and gether a great 
banke there." This so affected the Haven that in the 
reign of Edward VL it was, to a certain extent, nearly 
destroyed and lost, and the naval and commercial 
interests of the town seriously injured. The Com- 

APPENDIX. 2 , .") 

mission referred to in the text, and another which met 
in the reign of Elizabeth, took the matter into con- 
sideration, and a clever mechanic, John Eogers by 
name, commenced cutting a canal ; but it was, after a 
short time, abandoned, as the cost — £10,000, a very 
large sum in those days — ^was declared too great. The 
Haven was, therefore, apparently, left to itself, although 
the ruin of the trade and prosperity of the town was 

No. 7, page 48. 

Salvage of Anchors. — " Sweeping and Creeping." 

Whilst ships are lying at anchor in -the Downs it 
often happens that a storm will arise of such severity 
that, to save the vessel, it becomes necessary to " slip " 
her anchor and chain — -that is, to leave the anchor in 
the ground, and let the chain cable run out through 
the hawse-hole, by which operation both are lost in 
the depths of the sea. By means of " sweeping ' the 
bottom with about 200 fathoms of small rope (weighted) 
having a boat at each end, it is often possible to recover 
these lost treasures, and it is a practice frequently at- 
tempted, though involving an immense amount of time, 
patience, and labour. But when the position of a lost 
anchor is known exactly — as it can be by taking " shore 
marks "- — then the hovellers go direct to the place, and 
by " creeping " a chain, recover the anchor at once. 
When anchors and chains are thus recovered, a regular 
salvage allowance is awarded to the hovelliag crew who 
had succeeded in fishing them up. 

T 2 


No. 8, page TiS. 

Cmsars Invasion. 

JnliiTS Cffisar's first and second landings in Britain 
took place on the low flat shore between the present 
Walmer and Deal, and are referred to by the Emperor 
Napoleon III., in his great work, * The Life of Jnlius 
Csesar/ vol. ii. The date of the first invasion was the 
25th of August, B.C. 55, at about 10 a.m. " His fleet 
consisted of eighty transports, capable of containing 
the two legions, the 7th and the 10th, with all their 
baggage ; and a certain number of gallies ; eighteen 
other vessels destined for cavalry were detained by 
contrary winds in a little port (Ambleteuse), eight miles 
from Boulogne. The eff"ective force that really landed 

was probably about 10/200." 


" The landing being effected after a furious re- 
sistance, the Konnins established themselves on the 
heights (?) of Walmer, whilst the gallies were hauled 
up on the strand, and the transport ships left at 
anchor not far from the shore." 

Csesar's second descent took place about noon on the 
20th of July, B.C. 51. "The force mustered on the 
shores of Gaul for this expedition was very large— eight 
legions and 4(l00 cavalry ; but only five legions, or 25(0 
men and 2000 cavalry, actually landed. T])e fleet to 
carry this force numbered 600 transports, 28 war 
gallies, and a number of light barques, making probably 
nearly 800 sail. The landing was effected about the 
same spot as that on which the first took place, but 


the fleet anchored very much further north, that is, in 
the great estuary which then existed, and afterwards 
became a very important Roman station and port, 
known as the Portus Eutupinus, and then sufficiently 
large to accommodate this vast collection of vessels of 
all sizes and draughts." {See Map.) Subsequently the 
vessels were hauled up high and dry along the levels 
between Deal and Stonor, and an extensive earthwork 
built round them, presenting the curious and most 
uncomaion spectacle of an entrenched camp with ships 
in the centre, which were possibly occupied by the 
soldiers instead of tents. 

An interesting anecdote, from the same illustrious 
and royal source, in connection with the landing may 
not be out of place : — 

" A legionary named Caesius Scaeva distinguished 
himself in a very remarkable manner. Having thrown 
himself into a boat with four men, he reached a rock,* 
whence, with his comrades, he threw missiles against 
the enemy ; but the ebb rendered the sjiace between 
the rock and the land fordable. The barbarians tlien 
rushed at them in a crowd. His companions took 
refuge in their boat ; he, scorning flight, made a 
heroic defence, and killed several of the enemy. At 
length, having his thigh pierced by an arrow, his face 
bruised by the blow of a stone, his helmet broken to 
pieces, his buckler covered with holes, he trusted him- 
self to the mercy of the waves, and swam back to his 
companions. When he saw his general, instead of 

* Iti the text of Valerius Maximiis it is " in scopulum viciuura 
insulfe," a vock near the Isle. These rocks, called " Malm.-^," are 
still distinctly sesn, at low water, opposite Deal. 


boasting of his conduct, he sought his pardon for 
returning without his buckler, as it was considered a 
disgrace among the ancients to lose that defensive arm. 
But Csesar loaded him with praise, and rewarded him 
for his bravery by promoting him, on the spot, to the 
grade of a centurion." Eapid promotion for deeds of 
evident (not imaginary) merit was a line of policy 
followed by a certain other illustrious emperor and 
conqueror of more modern days, who delighted to make 
the mighty lioman his model in all things. 

No. 9, page 61. 
Sir Andretv Barton. 

The story of this accomplished sailor — if undoubted 
freebooter — forms the subject of a ballad of forty-one 
verses, which is not only one of the most spirited and 
graphic of the ' Percy Keliques of Ancient English 
Poetry,' but, what is perhaps better, it keeps to 
historical fact, which is not the case, as a rule, with 
many of the so-called " historic ballads." 

The account of Sir Andrew's death is so strikinp- 
that I do not hesitate to quote the tbree verses which 
tell the story. After describing the progress of t^je 
fight, and the remarkable skill of an English archer, 
Horseley by name, serving on board Sir Edward 
Howard's ship, the ballad goes on to say : 

"Sir Andrew he did swarve llic tree,* 

With right goode will he swarved, then 
Upon his breast did Horseley liitt, 
But the arrow bounded baclv ageu. 

* i.e., ciiiidted the mast. 


Then Horseley spyed a privye place, 

With perfect eye, in secret parte, 
Under the spole of his right arme, 

Ande smote Sir Andrew to the lieart. 
' Fight on, my men,' Sir Andrew sayes, 

'A littel I'me hurt, hut yett not slaine; 
I'le lye mee down and bleede awhile, 

And then I'le rise and tight agen. 
Fight on, my men,' Sir Andrew sayes. 

And never flinche before the foe; 
And stand fast by St. Andrew's crosse, 

Until you hear my ivMstle blow.'' 
They never heard his whistle blow. 

Which made their heartes waxe sore adreade. 
Then Horseley said, ' Aboard, my Lord, 

For well I wott Sir Andrew's dead.' 
They boarded then his noble shipp. 

They boarded it with might and maine, 
Eighteen score- Scotts alive they found. 

The rest were either maimed or slain." 

Sir Edward returns home with Sir Andrew's ship, 
which he presents to King Henry VIII., reminding 
him of the extremely low state of His Majesty's naval 
forces, by saying, somewhat pointedly : 

"Sir Andrew's shipp I bring with mee, 
A braver ship was never none ; 
Nowe hath your Grace two shipps of war. 
Before in England was but one," 

alluding, I presume, to the " Grreat Harry," and having 
said this Sir Edward personally presents, as a ghastly 
trophy, Sir Andrew's head, which he had himself struck 
off, and the ballad concludes with the following touch of 
feeling : 

" But when he saw his deadlye face. 
And eyes so hollow in his head, 
*I wold give,' quoth the king, 'a thciusand merkes 
This man were alive as Lee is dead. 


Yett for the manfull jiart liee pla^'en, 

Which fought soe well with heart and hand, 

His men shall have twelve pence a day 

Till they come to my lirother King's high land.' " 

The last verse exhibits a chivalrous generosity to- 
fallen foes which, I am sadly afraid, was not always 
characteristic of that age. 

No. 10, page 07. 

Destruction of the Invincible Armada. 

The Cinque Ports fitted out six very large ships, 
each assisted by a smaller tender, at a cost of £33,000, 
an immense sum for those days. The commander of 
one of those vessels was a native of Deal, and being 
himself thoroughly acquainted with the numerous shoals 
and banks of the neighbouring Avaters, contrived to- 
decoy one of the great Spanish Galleasses on to one of 
the dangerous ridges of the Goodwin Sands, where she 
soon fell an easy prey to the well-directed fire of the 
Deal captain, by whom she was ultimately taken and 
burnt, and all her ofiicers and crew either killed, 
drowned, or made prisoners. 

No. 11, page 70. 

Van Tromijs defeat in the Dotms. 

A curious discovery was made in 1830, by some 
labourers digging for sand, near the shore in the bund- 


hills lying to the north of Deal. The workmen came 
upon a very long trench containing human bones so 
enormous in quantity that it was quite clear they could 
not have been the remains of any shipwrecked crew. 
What were they then ? They were in far too good 
preservation to have been either Eoman, Danish, or 
Saxon, and therefore the probability is that they were 
none other than the remains of the killed in the last 
great action between the English and the Dutch imder 
Van Tromp in 1653, one of the most prolonged and 
desperate sea fights on record, and involving a fearful 
loss of life on both sides. 

The English Admirals would naturally hesitate to 
throw their dead — of which they must have had a very 
great number on board their ships — into the sea, there 
in the Downs, so short a distance from the land, where 
the bodies might be continually washed up by the tide 
and exposed to public view on the shore in front of the 
town of Deal. The corpses, there can be no doubt, were 
therefore brought ashore and decently and reverently 
buried in the vast trench in the sandhills, where they 
remained undisturbed for a period of 183 years until 
accidentally discovered in ISoG. 

No. 12, page 79. 

The " Warden of I'ilots," Captain Thomas Canney. 

A very sad instance of the uncertainty of human life 
is recorded iu connection with this gentleman. The 


very day after he liad steered Mr. Pitt round the fleet 
of loyal hovellers, when everything looked hopeful 
and bright, and every one was in the highest spirits, 
Captain Canney and a party of four friends sailed from 
Deal on a pleasure trip to Kamsgate in a private yacht. 
On nearing the latter town, instead of sailing into the 
harbour, as they might easily have done, the jjarty, 
with four sailors, got. into a small boat, which was 
almost instantly upset by the very strong tide then 
running down with great rapidity, and all on board 
but the four sailors were drowned before any help 
could be rendered from the shore, though scores of 
ready and willing hands were standing about. 

No. 13, page 93. 

The Barons of the Cinque Ports. 

The establishment of the Cinque Ports dates from 
Edward the Confessor, though their complete organi- 
zation must be referred to William I. The original 
five ports were Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Eomney, and 
Hastings, which latter is the premier Cinque Port ; and 
these being the five which lie towards France, it appears 
to have been thought necessary that they should be 
carefully preserved against invasion. King William I. 
Greeted tlie district into an independent government, and 
appointed as its governors a warden and twenty-five 
barons. King John granted the Cinque Ports very great 
privileges on condition that they should provide eighty 


ships at their own cost for forty days, as often as he shonkl 
have occasion for such service. Sandwich supplied five 
ships with twenty-one men each ; Dover, twenty-one 
ships with twenty- one men each ; Hythe, five ships 
with twenty-one men each ; Eomney, five ships with 
twenty-four men each; and Hastings, twenty-one 
ships with twenty-one men each. For these services 
each Cinque Port was to send two (out of its five) 
barons to represent them in Parliament, and besides 
this, many further privileges were granted to these 


Although the title of a " Baron of the Cinque Ports '' 

has now passed away, yet formerly it was an office 

of vast importance. These " Barons " inherited the 

duties and privileges of the courts of the " Saxon shore " 

{Litores Saxonianae) as they were known to the Ptomans, 

.and always bore themselves with princely hauteur. At 

the .coronation of James I. they attended with their 

peers " dressed in doublets of crimson satin, scarlet 

hose, and scarlet gowns faced with crimson satin, black 

velvet shoes, and caps of the same lastened to their 

sleeves." They stood, with their canopies fitted with 

.silver staves a ad silver bells, at the upper end of 

Westminster Hall, and, as the procession advanced, 

sixteen of them received the Queen under their canopy, 

and the King was received by sixteen in the same 

manner. The passage from Westminster Hall to the 

Abbey was covered with broad blue cloth, strewed with 

sweet herbs and flowers. At dinner the Barons of the 

Oiaque Ports were privileged to sit at a well-spread 

and well-furnished table to the right of the King ; and 

it is related that, so tenacious were they of their 


privileges, that on the occasion of the coronation of 
King George III., the table provided for them not 
having been put in its proper place, they refused to sit 
in any other ! Amongst other immunities, these 
" Barons " were exempted from subsidies and other 
aids ; tbeir heirs were free from personal wardships and 
tolls, and they could be impleaded only in their own 
towns ; and lastly, they enjoyed the very important 
privilege of marrying their heiresses to whom they 
pleased, without the necessity of obtaining the consent 
of the King beforehand ! — a " privilege " which, in these 
days, is calculated only to raise a smile. 

Most of the privileges of the Cinque Ports were 
ultimately abolished on the establishment of a royal 
navy at the Eestoration, because the principal service 
of furnishing ships and men in the time of war was, in 
consequence, no longer required at the hands of the 

No. 14, page 105. 


The statement in the text as to the difficulty of 
making these men see that there is any offence in 
smuggling, though written some years ago, has been 
fully confirmed l)y an article in the Daihj Tele^jrapli 
of the 5th of August, 1884, from the pen of an elegant 
writer, very well known for his grapliic and trutliful 
sketches of matters connected with the sea and sea- 

Ari'ENDix. 285 

farers. Tlie article states that, being in conversation 
with an aged Dealman, who, sixty years ago, and his 
father before him, had been regular smugglers, he (the 
writer) proceeds : " The old man talked with a great 
air of relish of what he had done, and said that, for his 
part, he could never see what wrong there was in 
robbing the Eevenue. ' If a man,' he said, ' chose to 
buy articles in France, he had a perfect right to get 
them into England free of duty if he could, so as to 
make a fair profit by the sale of them.' 

" When I asked him if his conscience ever pricked 
him for having defrauded the Eevenue, he withdrew 
his pipe from his month and stared at me with so 
much slowness of astonishment that it seemed to me 
almost five minutes before his mind had developed the 
full extent of the Avonderment my question had raised 
in him. He then expressed himself with so much 
contempt for the Eevenue, and inveighed with so 
mucn heat against the ' authorities ' for ' fining and 
locking up poor men for only buying goods on one side 
of the water, and striving to get a respectable living 
out of them on the other side ' — that, in order to divert 
his mind from the irritating subject, I found it necessary 
to order another glass of rum for him." It may be 
added that the good old salt always took his rum neat, 
and when his entertainer oftered him water with it, he 
replied, " No, much obliged — I never take water in any 
shape, leastways Avith rum, which I've drunk for years, 
neat as it's made ! " 

Another curious statement was made by the old man, 
and that was, that when on a " smuggling job," they 
never carried arms, or attempted the least resistance, 


or offered violence, if overtaken ; but they did their 
very best to get away if chased, which the fine sailing 
of the Deal galley-punts generally enabled them to do 
easily enough. 

The reader who is at all curious in such matters 
is referred to an interesting article in Chambers's 
Journal of the 30th of December, 1882, No. 992, page 
827, entitled " Ingenious Smugglers," in which will be 
found .an elaborate account of the extraordinary devices 
and contrivances adopted about the beginning of the 
present century, by these cunning coutrahandistas, for 
landing, concealing, and ultimately disposing of their 
foreign produce, for which there always seemed to be 
a readv market. 

No. 15, page 118. 

Captain IhdIocFs Befuge or S((fef>/ Beacon. 

If any men in the world are judges of such questions 
as the utility of beacons on the Goodwin Sands, it is 
certainly the Deal pilots, and the follo\Ying gratifying 
testimony was addressed to Captain Bullock by that 
body in October, 1841. We give it here, in, extenso, 
as mucli misunderstanding seems to have existed as to 
the actual utility of this ingenious invention : — 

<' Sir, " T>eal, Octol)er 18, 1841. 

" We, tlie undersigned pilots of Deal, do liereby 
certify tlmt, in our opinion, the Safety Beacon, which, 
you liave erected on the Goodwin Sands, will be the 

APrENDIX. 281 

means of preventing vessels from running on those 
dangerous shoals, and that it is likely to prove instru- 
mental in the saving of life and property; and we 
therefore strongly recommend that others of a similar 
description be placed wherever they may he useful to- 


" We have the honour, &c., &c. 


John Watson, Warden. Thos. Gardner. 

William Hadlow, Warden. Eichd. Russell. 

Stephen Collard. Eobt, Atkins. 

William Mackie. J. B. Thornton. 

Walter Gafford. Wm. Larkins. 

C. Miller, Warden. Thos. Dair. 

Ed. Eggers. Egbert Pordige. 

James Barber. James E. Dowers, 

Henry West. Eichd. iMowle. 

Bennet Paul. Stephen Friend. 

Thomas Bayley. 

" To Captain Bullock, R.N., 
H.M.S. ' Fearless.' " 

Visit of Prince Alhert to Bnllorlis Beacon. 

During the month of November, 1842, Her Majesty 
and Prince Albert were staying at Walnier Castle on a 
visit to the Duke of Wellington, then LorTl Warden of 
the Cinque Ports. Prince Albert, having heard a 
great deal of Bullock's famous " Eefuge Beacon," deter- 
mined to make a personal inspection of it, thereby 
giving one of the many proofs of the bright intelli- 
gence of his highly cultivated and inquiring mind, 
always ready to gain information on any subject of 


peculiar interest, scientific or otherwise. Accordingly, 
on the 30th of November, 1.S42, H.E.H. left the castle 
at noon, and was rowed in the gig to the ' Fearless,' 
commanded by Captain Bullock. The vessel at once 
steamed out for " Trinity Bay," where the beacon then 
stood. The water was, unfortunately, too high to allow 
of landing, but the ' Fearless ' steamed round the 
beacon as near as possible, whilst Captain Bullock 
explained its construction and uses very fully to the 
Prince, H.E.H, manifesting the greatest interest in the 
description and its various details, and expressing his 
unqualified admiration at the great ingenuity and 
extreme simplicity displayed in its erection. H.E.H. 
was also much delighted at the animated appearance 
of the Downs, observing that " it far exceeded in variety 
and interest anything that could be witnessed off" the 
coast of Sussex, or near Brighton, to which," he added 
emphatically, " this cannot be compared for a moment." 

No. J (5, page 131. 

Choice of Site of Bush's Lighthouse Beacon. 

The site selected for the erection of Mr. Bush's 
Lighthouse Beacon was so faulty, tliat a lighthouse in 
such a position would have been actually dangerous to 
shipping, as stated in the text, and for this reason 
Mr. Bush was required to take down the structure on 
which he had expended so much time, labour, and 
money. Mr. Bush always considered that he had been 


hardly treated by the Admiralty, inasmnch as he was 
kept waiting, in the first instance, for nearly three 
years by that Department, before he could get any 
answer or decision in regard to his proposals; and 
secondly, that the site of the intended Lighthouse 
Beacon had not been chosen by himself, but by the 
Admiralty, as will be seen by the following extracts 
from the correspondence between Mr. l>ush, the 
Trinity Board, and the Admiralty, and from his 
" Evidence " before the " Parliamentary Select Com- 
miatee on Lighthouses, 1845," which will be found at 
length in their printed " Keport." 

Extract from letter from Mr. Bush to Trinity Board, 
dated June, 1845 : — 

"On the 8th of September, 1811, Captain Bullock 
received instructions from the Admiralty to proceed to 
the Downs, and to place the buoy on that part of the 
Sands on which the Caisson now stands. . . . Cap- 
tain r.ullock laid the buoy, and the • Monkey ' and 
'Liditninij' steamers towed out the Caisson to the 
exact situation selected by the advice of the AdinrraUi/. 
1 therefore humbly submit that after I have expended 
my time and labour on this national undertaking, with 
the sanction and co-operation of the Admiralty, it 
will now be a case of the greatest hardship if your 
Honourable Board shall pass an interdict condemning 
the structuro on the ground that its locality is not 
advantageously chosen." 

Extract from Mr. Bush's evidence before the 
Committee (page 317): — 

" The site was marked on the plan settled by Captain 
Beaufort. A buoy was then placed, and I was directed to 



put the caisson down on that spot on the North Calliper. 
The caisson was placed upon the exact spot pointed out 
by Captain Bullock by direction of the Admiralty. 
Captain Beaufort marked the spot upon the plan, and 
gave me directions to place it (the caisson) on that buoy." 

Extract from letter from the Trinity Board to 
Mr. Bush, dated 29th May, 184r) :_ 

" I am directed to acquaint you that the Elder 
Brethren do not deem it necessary at this time, to 
question the correctness of your statement in respect 
of the permanency of the 11-inch iron pipe which you 
have set up, and connected to the remains of the wreck 
of your original caisson ; or of that of the iron frame- 
work and wooden enclosure by which the said pipe is 
surmounted ; or of its being readily convertible into a 
lighthouse ; but they direct me to acquaint you that 
the exhibition of a light in the situation in which you 
have so set up the said pipe, &c., would prove extremely 
injurious to the safety of shipping, and I am therefore 
further directed to recall your attention to the notice 
which was served upon you by order of this Board in 
the month of September last (24th September, 1844) 
and again to request you, in the terms of that notice, 
to desist from your proceedings in this matter." 

As a piece of neat official satire, the first part of this 
letter is perhaps unequalled, where reference is made 
to the shaft or column as an " 11-inch iron p^^je, 
founded on the ' remains ' of a ' irreck; ' " and to the 
upper Avorks as an "iron framework, and wooden 
enclosure which may be convertihle into a lighthouse." 
The polite, well-bred contempt of tlie whole scheme 
here exhibited is inimitable. 


But any disinterested person reading these state- 
ments must arrive at the conclusion that Mr. Bush was 
very hardly — not to say most unjustly — treated by the 
caj)rice exhibited by the Lords of the Admiralty in 
first themselves selecting a site for the lighthouse, and 
then in condemning Mr. Bush for having strictly 
followed their uicii orders ! 

No. 17, page 167. 
Admiral Basil Beauiuo)it. 

Basil Beaumont was the fifth son of Sir Henry 
Beaumont of Stoughton, Leicestershire. He was born 
in 1669, and entered the Pioyal Navy at a very early 
age. He appears to have seen much service, and was 
promoted accordingly, attaining the rank of Admiral 
before he was thirty-two. which, however, he only held 
for two years, as he perished miserably on the Goodwin 
Sands, at the age of thirty-four, in the great storm ol 

No. 18, pages 146, 167. 
Wreck of a whola Fleet. 

So appalling a disaster as the loss, at the same time 
and in the same storm, of an entire fleet of men-of-war, 
such as that referred to in the text as having happened 
in the Downs on the night of the *' Great Storm," the 
2Gfch of November, 1703, is, happily, but of very rare 

t 2 



occurrence — so rare, indeed, that it may not be out of 
place here to state that there is only one other such 
case on record. This took place in the West Indies 
on the 10th of October, 1780, in one of the most tre ■ 
mendous hurricanes that ever visited those islands, 
when no less than fifteen British men-of-war were 
totally lost. Their names and armaments wore as 
follows ; — 



' 'riimulerer ' 


'Deal Castle' 

. 24 

'Stirliu'j; Castle' 


' Penelope ' 

. 24 

' Defiance ' 


' Scarborough ' 

. 20 

' Phoenix ' 


' Barbadoes ' 

. 14 

' La Blanche' . 


' Chameleon ' 

. 14 

'Laurel' . 


' Endeavuur ' 

. 14 

'Shark' . 


'Victor' . 

. 10 

^Andromeda' . 


Most of the officers and crews perished with their 
ill-fated ships, as no boat could possibly live through 
such a terrific tempest, though a few did, in some 
miraculous manner, contrive to escape ; how, it is 
difiicult to conceive. 

It will be observed that, by a singular coincidence, 
a ship called the ' Stirling Castle ' was lost in this 
storm, as also was one of the same name in the great 
hurricane of 1703 in the Downs. 

No. 10, pages 40, 146. 

Accidents or Misadventures. 

A singular and unlooked-for danger appertaining to 
these terrible Sands was the cause, a few years ago, of 


the death of four men under circumstances of the most 
painful and melancholy character. A man named 
Byass and three comrades appear to have landed on the 
Sands at low water, and, running their boat ashore, 
grounded her there ; but in doing so, she is supposed 
to have struck on the embedded and broken timbers of 
some unfortunate ship lying buried just below. By 
this means a large hole seems to have been knocked in 
the bottom of the boat, and she therefore became 
utterly useless in consequence, and the poor fellows 
could do nothing but remain on the Sands, and 
trust to some passing craft taking them ofi'. Many 
vessels certainly must have passed, but the four 
men do not appear to have been seen by any of 
them but one, a large sailing barge, which, however 
utterly incredible it may appear, like the Priest and the 
Levite, " passed by on the other side," leaving the 
unfortunate men to their awful fate. This fact came 
out subsequently, when the boat was found and 
inquiries instituted, and the only reason the crew of 
the barge gave for their heartless and unsailorlikc 
conduct was " that they did not suppose there was 
anything wrong, but that seeing the men on the 
Sands rushing about and waving their arms in a 
wild, frantic manner, concluded that they were only 
playing tricks or skylarking ! " As if any one, out 
of Bedlam, would dream of choosing the Goodwin 
Sands, with a rising tide, as a place for " playing tricks 
or skylarking." About as poor and despicable an excuse 
as could well be made for a piece of cold, callous, 
cruel indiflference to the sulierings of four fellow- 
creatures in the immediate prospect of certain death. 


The inevitable consequeuce was that these most 
unfortunate men were left on the Sands, there to meet 
with a slow and most awful death ; for it is difficult to 
conceive a fate more utterly appalling than that which 
hefell these poor fellows. To find themselves on the 
Goodwins at low tide, with the positive certainty that 
the spot on which they were standing will be covered 
by many feet t)f slowly rising water in less than four 
hours, and with every hope of escape cut off, although 
scores of ships were passing before their very eyes, but 
alas ! all too far off to communicate with. All this 
time the remorseless waters are gradually creeping up, 
and as gradually, but most surely, approaching the 
helpless sufferers. Higher and higher they rise, until 
the victims are engulfed, and with one last and 
despairing effort the unequal and terrible struggle is 
ended, and the victims sleep beneath the waves, and 
thus four more strong hearts and useful lives are added 
to the long and disastrous death-roll of the Goodwin 

Hood has some ttmching lines in one of his smaller 
poems which are singularly appropriate to this sad 
story : 

"And whilst lie stood, the watery strife 
Eucfoaohed ou every hand ; 
And the ground decreased — his moments of lifo 
Seemed measured, like Time's, by sand. 

• * * • 

And lo ! the tide was over his feet; 

Oh! his heart bej^an to freeze, 
And slowly to pulse; and in another luat 

'I'lie wave was up to his knees. 


And he was deafened amid the mountain tojis 

And the salt spray blinded his eyes, 
And washed away the other salt drops 

That grief had caused to arise." 
* * * * 

In the month of August, 18S4, a party of " ex- 
cursionists " from Eamsgate were landed on the Sands 
at h'jw water ; and l)y some extraordinary oversight on 
the part of those in charge, who certfiinly ought to have 
known better, the tide was allowed to come up before 
the party could be got together, and a fresh breeze 
arisins: also, the transit across the Sands in a small 
boat to gain the cutter became a work of both risk 
and danger. After much trouble, however, the party 
ultimately returned in safety to Eamsgate. 

A very singular and unusual accident happened 
during the night of the 26th January, 1884, when a 
schooner named the * Alliance,' of Beaumaris, bound 
to Antwerp, was driven completely throngli the iron 
pier of Deal by the force of a terrific gale which blew 
from the south-west, and raged with extraordinary 
fury throughout the whole night. This gale was 
reported at the time by the Meteorological Office as the 
heaviest and most violent storm which has visited these 
shores for many years. Wind, thunder, lightning, 
rain and hail, with stones as big as large peas, prevailed 
during the evening and night, doing immense damage 
not only at sea, but along the coasts and on shore as 
well. The above-named vessel struck with great 
violence against the south side of Deal pier, al)out 
thirty yards from the shore, and was forced by the 
tempest between the piles, in on one side, and out at 


the other, breaking her masts off at the deck level, and 
displacing several of the iron piles on which the pier 
rests, doubling up the iron stays and tie-rods on all 
sides. Two of the iron piles had fallen across the 
schooner's deck, smashing her bulwarks, and destroying 
the boat then resting on the deck. Carrying these 
with her, she worked through the pier, and was rolling 
about in a most helpless state on the north side, when 
the crew were rescued by the Deal men, only with the 
utmost difficulty, by means of ropes thrown from the 
beach. The rocket apparatus had been sent for ; but 
before the cart containing it arrived, all the men had 
been rescued, and were safely housed on shore. 

During the darkness of the same night, the Deal 
lifeboat went out and rescued a ship in great distress 
on the Brake Sandbank, in the Small Downs, and took 
both vessel and crew into Ramsgate Harbour. The 
greatest difficulty is always experienced in launching 
from the beach in the teeth of a heavy gale. Several 
Deal luggers made the attempt, the * Albert Victor,' 
the ' Success,' and others, but they were thrown bade, 
or, as tlie local phrase goes, " knocked up along," nearly 
capsized, and all but destroyed. 

No. 20, page 228. 

The Lifrhoaf. 

One of tlie oldest friends and warmest supporters of 
the cause of the lifeboat was tlie laic Thomas Chap- 


man, Esq., F.K.S., F.S.A., a native of Whitby, a man 
of high standing and great influence in the City of 
London, and for forty-six years chairman of " Lk)yds." 
So far back as the year 1824 he joined ihe 'Lifeboat 
Institution, and ultimately became chairman, treasurer, 
and vice-president, his connection with the Institution 
only terminating at the close of his long and useful 
life in December, 1885. But not merely did Mr. Chap- 
man assist the Institution with his influence and his 
wealth, he also devoted his quick intellect to thoroughly 
mastering both the details of the building and of the 
working of the boats; and many of the improve- 
ments found in the pattern now adopted owe their 
origin to Mr. Chapman's perspicacity. It is also a re- 
markable fact that when Mr. Chapman's connection 
began, the Institution possessed only eight boats ; but, 
at the period of his resignation, there were nearly 
three hundred in use at their several stations. Shortlv 
after his death, the Duke of Northumberland, President 
of the Institution (writing to Mrs. Eugenia Noel, 
Mr. Chapman's only child), pays his deceased friend 
this graceful compliment : " Occupying a foremost 
jjosition in the commercial world, and possessing 
extraordinary administrative powers, he uniformly em- 
ployed these advantages to advance the best interests 
of the lifeboat cause which he had so much at heart ; 
and by his decease the Institution has been deprived 
of a warm friend and a great benefactor, whose loss 
will long be sincerely deplored." 








Los Angeles 

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I457.6U Memorials of 
a22Tn the Joodwin 

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