In his diary of 30 April 1660 Samuel Pepys described Deal as ‘pitiful’, while Daniel Defoe’s uncomplimentary verse depicts the town as an unworthy hive of smugglers and villains. Even Dickens offers a gloomy picture in 1853, when he sends the female narrator of Bleak House:
into the narrow streets of Deal, and very gloomy they were upon a raw misty morning. The long flat beach, with its little irregular houses, wooden and brick, and its litter of capstans, and great boats, and sheds, and bare upright poles with tackle and blocks, and loose gravelly waste places overgrown with grass and weeds, wore as dull an appearance as any place I ever saw.
To a later generation of Victorians however it was ‘the healthiest place in England’, and by 1900 the increasingly adventurous female traveller looking for tips on her holiday wardrobe could browse magazines for advice on a pair of knickerbockers and a divided wool skirt. The practical tourist would also pack glycerine and rose water (a precursor of after-sun) in case of over-exposure on hot days, and a change of underclothing. By this time it would have been considerably easier for a single woman to find respectable lodgings than it had been even twenty years before.