007 in Kent

You may not realise that several of Ian Fleming’s original novels were set in England, and indeed in Kent. The truth of the matter is that the majority of the films do not follow the novels very closely, but if you are an aficionado of 007 and his creator, Ian Fleming, you may well be interested in a tour through eastern Kent.

Fleming’s 3rd novel, Moonraker, was set in London and Kent, exactly where Ian Fleming had homes. One of his favourite residences called ‘White Cliffs’ is dramatically located underneath the cliffs in St Margaret’s Bay near Dover. It was at the hotel here where Bond and Gala Brand managed to seek solace after almost being killed in a rockfall on the beach. 

Many of the books are based on Fleming’s own experiences, although he always maintained that the character of James Bond was not autobiographical. However, during WW2, Commander Fleming, like Commander Bond, was a Royal Navy intelligence officer and was even involved in ‘Operation Goldeneye’, an allied plan to monitor the activities of Spain.

During the war, Fleming spent time in Portugal and it is said that his interest in gambling casinos came from visits to the Casino do Estoril near Lisbon. The name James Bond came from an ornithologist, who wrote A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies. Bird-watching was one of Fleming’s passions when he was staying at Goldeneye, his holiday home on Jamaica. It comes as no surprise therefore that not only Goldeneye but also Live and Let Die and Dr No feature the island of Jamaica.

Several 007 stories involve skiing, scuba-diving and golf, which were among Ian Fleming’s favourite pastimes. St Marks golf course in the novel Goldfinger is actually based on Royal St Georges in Sandwich, where Ian Fleming was a member for 16 years. He was about to become Captain of the club in August 1964 when he tragically died of a heart attack aged 56.

If you would like to see some of these locations with us and learn more about Ian Fleming, here are some pictures from Kent and extracts from the original Bond novels to whet your appetite…

You Only Live Twice

…the youth came under the guardianship of an aunt, since deceased, Miss Charmian Bond, and went to live with her at the quaintly-named hamlet of Pett Bottom near Canterbury in Kent. There in a small cottage by the attractive Duck Inn, his aunt, who must have been a most erudite and accomplished lady, completed his education for an English public school…

The Duck Inn was one of Ian Fleming’s favourite country pubs where he often had lunch. He was often to be found sitting in the garden here making notes for his books. It is claimed that he wrote most of You Only Live Twice here in 1963.


James Bond flung the DB III through the last mile of straight and did a racing change down into third and then into second for the short hill before the inevitable traffic crawl through Rochester. Bond had chosen the A2 in preference to the A20 to Sandwich because he wanted to take a quick look at Goldfinger land -Reculver and those melancholy forsaken reaches of the Thames which Goldfinger had chosen for his parish. He would then cross the Isle of Thanet to Ramsgate and leave his bag at the Channel Packet, have an early lunch and be off to Sandwich.

Bond left the Canterbury road and switched on to the incongruously rich highway that runs through the cheap bungaloid world of the holiday lands -Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington, Margate. He still idled along at 50, holding the racing wheel on a light rein, listening to the relaxed purr of the exhausts…

Then he got back into his car and drove slowly over to the Royal St Marks at Sandwich. Bond carried his clubs to the professional’s shop and through to the workroom. it would be about 20 years since he had played his last round on St Marks. He’d never been back -even when there had been that bloody affair of the Moonraker at Kingsdown, 10 miles down the coast.


Bond took the short cut out of Canterbury by the Old Dover Road and looked at his watch. Another 15 minutes to Dover and then another 10 minutes along the Deal road. Bond concentrated on his driving as he coasted down into Dover. He kept left and was soon climbing out of the town again past the wonderful cardboard castle. The visibility was bad and he switched on his lights as he motored slowly along the coast-road, the ruby-spangled masts of the Swingate radar station rising like Roman candles on his right.

…they stopped for a moment on the edge of the great chalk cliff and stood gazing over the whole corner of England where Caesar had first landed 2 thousand years before. To their left, the carpet of green turf, bright with small wildflowers, sloped gradually down to the long pebble beaches of Walmer and Deal, which curved off towards Sandwich and the Bay. Beyond, the cliffs of Margate, showing white through the distant haze that hid the North Foreland, guarded the grey scar of Manston aerodrome…

They walked along in silence until they came to the 2-mile stretch of shingle that runs at low tide beneath the towering white cliffs to St Margaret’s Bay. “The tide’s coming in fast but we can get to St Margaret’s before it catches us. We’ll clean up at the Granville there and have a drink and some food…” They turned towards the distant tower of the South Foreland lighthouse and set off through the shingle.

A hot bath and an hour’s rest at the accommodating Granville had been followed by 2 stiff brandies and sodas for Gala and 3 for Bond, followed by delicious fried soles and Welsh rarebits and coffee.

Reliving the dream in St Margaret's Bay!
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