Walmer is a town in the district of Dover, Kent in England: located on the coast, the parish of Walmer is six miles (10 km) north-east of Dover. Largely residential, its coastline and castle attract many visitors. It has a population of 6,693 (2001).
Walmer is closely associated with its adjoining neighbour, the town of Deal - sharing many amenities and services and benefiting from Deal's High Street shopping area.
Julius Caesar reputedly landed on the beach here in 55 BC and 54 BC. It is only one possible landing place, but it is the most probable, judging from the distances given in his account of the landings in his Gallic Wars. In the 19th century it was thought that he had landed by Deal Castle - hence a house there with SPQR emblazoned on its gate - but the landing-point is now put half a mile further south, beyond the lifeboat station, and marked by a concrete memorial.
Walmer Castle and its beautiful formal gardens are a major attraction for visitors. The official residence of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports since the 18th Century, the building is now an English Heritage property. Famous Lords Warden have included Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Sir Winston Churchill, William Pitt the Younger (whose niece Lady Hester Stanhope first created the gardens), and the Duke of Wellington (of the Battle of Waterloo fame). Wellington lived there for 23 years and the castle houses not only a collection of Wellington memorabilia but also the room in which he died.
The Castle was built in 1540 as one of three on this part of the Kent coast by orders of Henry VIII. The others were nearby at Deal (southern Deal) and Sandown (north Deal) - the Deal one survives, the Sandown one has been lost to coastal erosion.
The flat grassy plateau at Hawkshill Freedown on the southern edge of Walmer parish was a World War I aerodrome and has a memorial to the pilots who flew from there and were killed fighting in France.
The Walmer Brewery 1816-1978
It is believed that Upper Walmer was home to a brewery from Tudor times and possibly earlier. In 1816 a small brewery on the Dover Road just south of the old Walmer Village was acquired by Edmund Thompson who then operated it as Thompson & Sons. In 1867 John Matthews bought the business and greatly expanded and modernised it, although he retained the Thompson Brewery name.
The development of maltings, bottling plants, brew house, stables and blacksmith's eventually made it an important local employer. Further houses were bought in Dover Road for use as offices and to house staff, and a long terrace of brick cottages was built in Belmont to house more workers.
During the 1950s, the brewery became part of the Charrington's company and its role was reduced to a bottling and distribution plant. It eventually closed in 1972 and was demolished in 1978 to make way for a housing development called Downlands. An old bell, once housed in the belfry at the brewery, was re-sited at The Thompson Bell, the last remaining public house in the village.