Fit for a King

The management of Kingsgate Castle in Broadstairs, a historic site now home to 32 private flats, has been acquired by Kent property consultants Caxtons

With so many new builds being developed across the South East, properties with unique heritage and charm appear to be few and far between. However, if you look in the right places, you’ll find them. One such gem is Kingsgate Castle, situated high on the clifftop above Kingsgate Bay in Broadstairs, Kent. Yes, that’s right – it’s a real castle, which over the past 250 years, has played host to royalty, aristocrats, and the rich and famous.

The Grade II-listed building houses 32 apartments, and in May 2023, Caxtons Property Consultants acquired the management of the property. Following a period of working with smaller local agents, the directors of Kingsgate Castle decided to partner with Caxtons. They had local knowledge of the firm and were impressed with the access to quality craftsman trades it could offer, which would play a pivotal role in the ongoing maintenance of the site.

With its picturesque secluded sandy beach and magnificent white cliffs, Kingsgate is a superb location. The neighbouring town of Broadstairs is only a 10-minute journey by car, offering train links to London and other nearby coastal towns such as Margate and Ramsgate.

The name Kingsgate is believed to be derived from an incidental landing of King Charles II and his brother the Duke of York on 30 June 1683. The Royal brothers were on their way to Dover, but for unknown reasons had to abandon their journey, scrambling ashore what was then the deserted fishing hamlet of St Bartholomew’s.

Following the landing, a new chapter for the hamlet began, with St Bartholomew’s being renamed “King’s Gate”. The spot where the grateful monarch came ashore was commemorated by a flint gateway erected at the top of the chalk bay, and the remnants of this can still be seen today.

The Kingsgate Castle estate has a rich history dating back to the 1760s when it was originally built for Whig politician Lord Holland as a stable block for his nearby country residence Holland House in Kensington, London. Lord Holland bequeathed the estate to his son Charles James Fox, who was also a Whig MP and became Britain’s first Foreign Secretary.

Further down the line, the estate was the residence of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, an English banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath, and following his death, it was bought by Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Daily Mail, who transformed part of it into the North Foreland Golf course. In the 1920s, Kingsgate Castle became a fashionable hotel, before being converted into 32 luxurious private apartments in 1954.

Kingsgate Castle is well-loved by all current residents. It can be reached via striking wrought iron gates that give access to the private gardens and driveway. There is also an underground passage – a Georgian smugglers’ tunnel – that leads from the castle to the bay, but it is no longer in use. The property has everything you would expect from a castle – towering turrets, gothic archways and a gorgeous flint-covered exterior. Some apartments are even based inside the Castle towers, offering stunning panoramic views overlooking Kingsgate and Joss Bay. The grounds, which feature a car park and communal lawns, are beautifully well-kept, with every aspect of the site respecting Kingsgate’s heritage.

Being a Grade II-listed building means the property management of the castle needs to be approached in a specific way. The team at Caxtons recognise that this presents unique challenges as there are many intricacies to consider. For example, they must ensure the building retains its historical value by adhering to the listed status requirements, using specialist contractors where necessary for lead and flint maintenance works, whilst guaranteeing it is safe and compliant with current legislation.

There are pitfalls to avoid and additional measures to undertake in order to manage the estate well, and Caxtons is focused on utilising its relationships with specialist local trades and master craftsmen to invest in and preserve the iconic site. Although the team are still early on in their management of Kingsgate Castle, they are excited about what the future holds for this very special property.

A testimonial from one of Kingsgate Castle’s current residents

“I just wanted to put on record my response in dealing with Caxtons’ Nancy Momah. I was delighted by her highly efficient response to my query. I do not attend any of the castle’s meetings, as do a few more of us. We have had little faith over the past few years in the previous agency and the steering committees. I took your advice and emailed your block management with a query, expecting the usual poor response if any, but Nancy responded quickly with all the information I required. I told her if this was an example of the agency’s professionalism, then all the residents of the Castle would greatly benefit. It may even start to resurrect my faith in how the Castle is managed.”

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