This will be my final post on Margate, as I will be moving on to new places next week! (Previous posts covered Margate’s Turner Contemporary Art Gallery and the Margate Shell Grotto.) Today I will be wrapping up my visit to this seaside town with my walk to the Living Museum at the Walpole Bay Hotel. The entire town of Margate has adopted the Curiosity theme from the current exhibit at the Turner Contemporary. Window stickers on local businesses let visitors know that something ‘curious’ can be found inside. After a visit to speak with the lovely folk at Margate’s Visitor Information Centre, I was given a map to the main curious displays around town. The town itself was one, with quirky vintage and antique shops lining the Old Town streets. Second, was the Margate Shell Grotto, and the Walpole Bay Hotel was last. The walk from Margate’s promenade to the Walpole Bay Hotel in nearby Cliftonville took around 20-30 minutes, and was easily reached by following the scenic coastline.
The Walpole Bay Hotel was built in 1914 by Louisa Budge, and contains many of its original furnishings. The hotel is lovely, but the real reason people flock to this random hotel by the sea is to walk through the Walpole Bay Living Museum. A true Wunderkammer in itself, it is easy to see why Turner Contemporary wanted to include this quirky hotel in its Curious Margate spin-off.
The friendly receptionist let me know that I was free to explore the five floors of the hotel on my own and rambled about their super exciting napkin collection that I should be sure and see. As I made my way to the first floor, I was a bit taken a back by what awaited me. Piles of antiques, covering everything from old urinals to ladies hats, lined the hallways and closets on ‘display’. Although I found it incredibly disorganized, there was something wonderful about the eccentric way these items from the past were presented. My uneasiness turned into curiosity as I scanned the piles of ‘junk’ for gems of yesteryear. Closets full of dozens of old typewriters and forgotten luggage. Ladies gloves covering a century of finger fashion pinned to the walls. Cheese plates from practically every decade since the early 19th Century. The “main attraction” is the original lift built in 1927, that visitors can still take to the fifth floor to see the mechanical workings at the top. The Walpole Bay Living Hotel is open everyday, and free to visit. If you love really strange places, stick this one on your list.