The White Cliffs of Dover, part of the North Downs formation, is the name given to the region of English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliff face, which reaches a height of 350 feet (110 m), owes its striking appearance to its composition of chalk accented by streaks of black flint. The cliffs, on both sides of the town of Dover in Kent, stretch for eight miles (13 km). A section of coastline encompassing the cliffs was purchased by the National Trust in 2016.
|White Cliffs of Dover|
Viewed from the Strait of Dover
Location in Kent
The cliffs are part of the coastline of Kent in England between approximately continental Europe. On a clear day they are visible from the French coast. The chalk cliffs of the Alabaster Coast of Normandy in France are part of the same geological system.and , at the point where Great Britain is closest to
The White Cliffs are at one end of the Kent Downs designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In 1999 a sustainable National Trust visitor centre was built in the area. The Gateway building, designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects, houses a restaurant, an information centre on the work of the National Trust, and details of local archaeology, history and landscape.
About 70 million years ago Great Britain and much of Europe were submerged under a great sea. The sea bottom was covered with white mud formed from fragments of coccoliths, the skeletons of tiny algae that floated in the surface waters and sank to the bottom during the Cretaceous period and, together with the remains of bottom-living creatures, formed muddy sediments. It is thought that the sediments were deposited very slowly, probably half a millimetre a year, equivalent to about 180 coccoliths piled one on top of another. Up to 500 metres of sediments were deposited in some areas. The weight of overlying sediments caused the deposits to become consolidated into chalk.
Subsequent earth movements related to the formation of the Alps raised the sea-floor deposits above sea level. Until the end of the last glacial period, the British Isles were part of continental Europe, linked by the unbroken Weald-Artois Anticline, a ridge that acted as a natural dam to hold back a large freshwater pro-glacial lake, now submerged under the North Sea. The land masses remained connected until between 450,000 and 180,000 years ago when at least two catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods breached the anticline and destroyed the ridge that connected Britain to Europe. A land connection across the southern North Sea existed intermittently at later times when periods of glaciation resulted in lower sea levels. At the end of the last glacial period, around 10,000 years ago, rising sea levels finally severed the last land connection.
The cliffs' chalk face shows horizontal bands of dark-coloured flint which is composed of the remains of sea sponges and siliceous planktonic micro-organisms that hardened into the microscopic quartz crystals. Quartz silica filled cavities left by dead marine creatures which are found as flint fossils, especially the internal moulds of Micraster echinoids. Several different ocean floor species such as brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids, and sponges can be found in the chalk deposits, as can sharks' teeth.
In some areas, layers of a soft, grey chalk known as a hardground complex can be seen. Hardgrounds are thought to reflect disruptions in the steady accumulation of sediment when sedimentation ceased and/or the loose surface sediments were stripped away by currents or slumping, exposing the older hardened chalk sediment. A single hardground may have been exhumed 16 or more times before the sediments were compacted and hardened (lithified) to form chalk.
The White Cliffs of Dover have been eroding slowly but in the past 150 years they have been eroding ten times faster than they did before. The reason for this is because of the thinning of beaches that separate the cliffs from the sea and the fact that the cliffs themselves are made up of coccolithophore shells, which are chalk-based and unusual in forming calcium carbonate shells which eventually sink to the seabed to form chalky deposits are vulnerable to erosion. The change is likely due to construction of sea walls and groynes, and stronger storms hitting the coastline due to climate change and the rise of CO
2 in the ocean. Scientists say that the English Channel has eaten away at the cliffs at a rate of 8.7 inches to just over a foot. A thousand years ago, that rate was three-quarters of an inch to 2.3 inches per year. If the management of the beaches continues to be done poorly and the rise of CO
2 in the ocean continues along with the rise of stronger storms hitting the coastlines, there is a chance that the iconic cliffs could disappear altogether.
Over the years, the cliffs have began to crumble as well and there have been sudden cliff falls due to the erosion of the chalk. In 2001, a large chunk of the cliff edge, as large as a football pitch, fell into the Channel. Another large section collapsed on 15 March 2012. As mentioned before, coccolithophores shells have increased in the ocean due to the increase of carbon dioxide in the sea. The ocean absorbs CO
2 and while that happens the pH drops and the water becomes more acidic. One of the forms affected by this is a type of phytoplankton called coccolithophores. Ocean acidification can damage corals, such as those in the Great Barrier Reef. This can affect the coral strength and lead to them breaking more easily and more often. Coccolithophores make up the White Cliffs of Dover, and because of ocean acidification, it is causing them to erode at a faster rate. All together, this could affect the wildlife on the cliffs and the cliffs themselves, for if they continue to erode, they could disappear altogether.
The White Cliffs are eroding because of the rise of sea levels and the decrease of pH levels in the ocean due to the rise of CO
2 in the ocean. The only way this can be solved is if the beaches that separate the cliffs from the ocean are well maintained and the cliffs themselves are cared for. If the level of CO
2 in the ocean continues to rise, then the eroding of the cliffs will continue to increase in the years to come.
The chalk grassland environment above the cliffs provides an excellent environment for many species of wild flowers, butterflies and birds, and has been designated a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Rangers and volunteers work to clear invasive plants that threaten the native flora. A grazing programme involving Exmoor ponies has been established to help to clear faster-growing invasive plants, allowing smaller, less robust native plants to survive. The ponies are managed by the National Trust, Natural England, and County Wildlife Trusts to maintain vegetation on nature reserves.
The cliffs are the first landing point for many migratory birds flying inland from across the English Channel. After a 120-year absence, in 2009 it was reported that ravens had returned to the cliffs. Similar in appearance but smaller, the jackdaw is abundant. The rarest of the birds that live along the cliffs is the peregrine falcon. In recent decline and endangered, the skylark also makes its home on the cliffs. The cliffs are home to fulmars, which resemble gulls, and to colonies of black-legged kittiwake, a species of gull. Bluebird, as mentioned in the classic World War II song "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" is an old country name for swallows and house martins, which make an annual migration to continental Europe, many of them crossing the English Channel at least twice a year.
Among the wildflowers are several varieties of orchids, the rarest of which is the early spider orchid, which has yellow-green to brownish green petals and looks like the body of a large spider. The oxtongue broomrape is an unusual plant that lives on the roots of a host plant. It has yellow, white, or blue snapdragon-like flowers and about 90 per cent of the UK's population is found on the cliffs. Viper's-bugloss, a showy plant in vivid shades of blue and purple with red stamens, also grows along the cliffs. In his play King Lear, Shakespeare mentions rock samphire, an edible plant that grows on the cliffs. It was collected by gatherers who hung from ropes down the cliff: "Half-way down / Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!" (Act IV, Scene VI). This refers to the dangers involved in collecting rock samphire on sea cliffs.
The abundance of wildflowers provides homes for about thirty species of butterfly. The rare Adonis blue can be seen in spring and again in autumn. Males have vibrant blue wings lined with a white margin, whereas the females are a rich chocolate brown. This species' sole larval food plant is the horseshoe vetch and it has a symbiotic relationship with red or black ants. The eggs are laid singly on very small foodplants growing in short turf. This provides a warm microclimate, suitable for larval development, which is also favoured by ants. The caterpillar has green and yellow stripes to provide camouflage while it feeds on vetch. The ants milk the sugary secretions from the larval "honey glands" and, in return, protect the larvae from predators and parasitoids, even going so far as to bury them at night. The larvae pupate in the upper soil, and continue to be protected by the ants, often in their nests, until the adults emerge in the spring or autumn.
Chalk hill blue, male on left female on right
Similar in appearance, but more abundant, is the chalk hill blue, a chalk grassland specialist that can be seen in July and August. Threatened species include the silver spotted skipper and straw belle moth. The well-known red admiral can be seen from February until November. The marbled white, black and white with a white wing border, can be seen from June to August.
Samphire Hoe Country Park is a nature reserve on a new piece of land created from the rock excavated during the construction of the Channel Tunnel. It covers a 74-acre (30 ha) site at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff, between Dover and Folkestone. There is an education shelter with a classroom and exhibition area. Staff and volunteers are available to answer questions and provide information about the wildlife in the reserve. The building's design incorporates eco-construction criteria. Samphire, a wild edible plant, grew on the cliffs and was gathered by hanging from ropes over the cliff's edge. Shakespeare Cliff was named after the reference to this "dreadful trade" in Shakespeare's play King Lear (Act 4, Scene 6, Lines 14-15).
A possible Iron Age hillfort has been discovered at Dover, on the site of the later castle. The area was also inhabited during the Roman period, when Dover was used as a port. A lighthouse survives from this era, one of a pair at Dover which helped shipping navigate the port. It is likely the area around the surviving lighthouse was inhabited in the early medieval period as archaeologists have found a Saxon cemetery here, and the church of St Mary in Castro was built next to the lighthouse in the 10th or 11th century. It is thought that the Old English name for Britain, Albion, was derived from the latin albus (meaning 'white') as an allusion to the white cliffs.
Dover Castle, the largest castle in England, was founded in the 11th century. It has been described as the "Key to England" owing to its defensive significance throughout history. The castle was founded by William the Conqueror in 1066 and rebuilt for Henry II, King John, and Henry III. This expanded the castle to its current size, taking its curtain walls to the edge of the cliffs. During the First Barons' War the castle was held by King John's soldiers and besieged by the French between May 1216 and May 1217. The castle was also besieged in 1265 during the Second Barons' War. In the 16th century cannons were installed at the castle, but it became less important militarily as Henry VIII had built artillery forts along the coast. Dover Castle was captured in 1642 during the Civil War when townspeople climbed the cliffs and surprised the royalist garrison, giving a symbolic victory against royal control. Towards the end of the war many castles were slighted, but Dover was spared.
The castle had renewed importance from the 1740s as the development of heavy artillery made capturing ports an important part of warfare. During the Napoleonic Wars in particular the defences were remodelled and a series of tunnels were dug into the cliff to act as barracks, adding space for an extra 2,000 soldiers. The tunnels mostly lay abandoned until the Second World War.
The cliffs have great symbolic value in Britain because they face towards continental Europe across the narrowest part of the English Channel, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard. The National Trust calls the cliffs "an icon of Britain", with "the white chalk face a symbol of home and war time defence." Because crossing at Dover was the primary route to the continent before the advent of air travel, the white line of cliffs also formed the first or last sight of Britain for travellers. During the Second World War, thousands of allied troops on the little ships in the Dunkirk evacuation saw the welcoming sight of the cliffs. In the summer of 1940, reporters gathered at Shakespeare Cliff to watch aerial dogfights between German and British aircraft during the Battle of Britain.
Dover Museum was founded in 1836. Shelled from France in 1942 during the Second World War, the museum lost much of its collections, including nearly all its natural history collections. Much of the surviving material was left neglected in caves and other stores until 1946. In 1948 a temporary museum was opened and in 1991 a new museum of three storeys, built behind its original Victorian façade, was opened. In 1999, a new gallery on the second floor centred on the Dover Bronze Age Boat was opened.
South Foreland Lighthouse is a Victorian-era lighthouse on the South Foreland in St. Margaret's Bay, which was once used to warn ships approaching the nearby Goodwin Sands. Goodwin Sands is a 10-mile-long (16 km) sandbank at the southern end of the North Sea lying six miles (10 km) off the Deal coast. The area consists of a layer of fine sand approximately 82 ft (25 m) deep resting on a chalk platform belonging to the same geological feature that incorporates the White Cliffs of Dover. More than 2,000 ships are believed to have been wrecked on the Goodwin Sands because they lie close to the major shipping lanes through the Straits of Dover. It went out of service in 1988 and is now owned by the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty.
"(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" is a popular World War II song composed in 1941 by Walter Kent to lyrics by Nat Burton. Made famous in Vera Lynn's 1942 version, it was one of Lynn's best-known recordings and among the most popular World War II tunes.Cap Blanc-Nez
Cap Blanc-Nez (literally "Cape White Nose" in English; from Dutch Blankenesse, white headland) is a cape on the Côte d'Opale, in the Pas-de-Calais département, in northern France. The cliffs of chalk are very similar to the white cliffs of Dover at the other side of the Channel in England. Cap Blanc-Nez does not protrude into the sea like a typical cape, but is a high point where a chalk ridge has been truncated by the sea, forming a cliff that is topped by the obelisk of the Dover Patrol Monument, commemorating the Dover Patrol which kept the Channel free from U-boats during World War I.
Cap Blanc-Nez was a vital measuring point for the eighteenth-century trigonometric survey linking the Paris Observatory with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Sightings were made across the English Channel to Dover Castle and Fairlight Windmill on the South Downs. This Anglo-French Survey was led in England by General William Roy.
Some miles away to the southwest of Cap Blanc-Nez is the taller Cap Gris-Nez.Cap Gris-Nez
Cap Gris-Nez (literally "cape grey nose") is a cape on the Côte d'Opale in the Pas-de-Calais département in northern France.
It is between Wissant and Audresselles, in the commune of Audinghen.
The cliffs of the cape are the closest point of France to England – 34 km (21 mi) from their English counterparts at Dover. Smothered in sea pinks and thrift, the cliffs are a perfect vantage point to see hundreds of ships, from oil tankers to little fishing trawlers, plying the waters below. On a clear day, the emblematic white cliffs of Dover on the English shore can be seen.Capel-le-Ferne
Capel-le-Ferne is a village situated near Folkestone, Kent. Its name derives from the phrase "Chapel in the Ferns". It had a population in 2011 of 1,884. It is perched on top of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Its foremost attraction is the Battle of Britain Memorial, opened by the Queen Mother on 9 July 1993 and dedicated to those who fought in the battle. The Memorial is built upon part of a former World War 2 coastal battery (No. 2 and No. 3 guns). The other part of the Coastal Battery is privately held and under restoration. The Channel Tunnel runs underneath the northernmost part of the village.The village is twinned with the commune of Oye-Plage in the Pas-de-Calais department in France, about 7 miles (12 km) east of Calais.Claudine West
Claudine West (1890–1943) was a British novelist and screenwriter. She moved to Hollywood in 1929, and was employed by MGM on many films, including some of their biggest productions of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Many of the films she worked on were British-themed such as Goodbye, Mr. Chips and The White Cliffs of Dover.In 1942, West won an Oscar as one of the screenwriters of the highly regarded World War II drama Mrs. Miniver.Cliffs of Dover (disambiguation)
The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which form part of the coastline of England, facing the Strait of Dover.
Cliffs of Dover may also refer to:
"Cliffs of Dover" (composition), an instrumental composition by guitarist Eric Johnson
IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover, flight simulation game by 1C, the makers of IL-2 Sturmovik (video game)Dover
Dover () is a town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Dover Calais ferry through the Port of Dover. The surrounding chalk cliffs are known as the White Cliffs of Dover.
Archaeological finds have revealed that the area has always been a focus for peoples entering and leaving Britain. The name derives from the River Dour that flows through it.
The Port of Dover provides much of the town's employment, as does tourism.Emily Fitzroy
Emily Fitzroy (24 May 1860 – 3 March 1954) was an English theatre and film actress who eventually became an American citizen. She was at one time a leading lady in London for Sir Charles Wyndham.
She made her film debut in 1915. Her debut in sound films came in Show Boat (1929).She retired in 1944, Her last film was The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).Fitzroy's Broadway credits include What the Public Wants (1922), I. O. U. (1918), Rich Man, Poor Man (1916), Lady Luxury (1914), Never Say Die (1912), Lady Patricia (1912), and Just to Get Married (1912).Fan Bay Deep Shelter
Fan Bay Deep Shelter is a series of tunnels constructed during World War II as accommodation for Fan Bay Battery artillery battery, 23 metres down in the White Cliffs of Dover at Fan Bay near the Port of Dover. The tunnels and gun battery were built by the Royal Engineers between 20 November 1940 and 28 February 1941. The site is maintained by the National Trust.
The tunnels are lined with corrugated steel arching and the complex originally included five large tunnels with storage space for bunk beds, rifles, a hospital and a secure store, a generator, toilets and washrooms. The gun battery was intended to attack enemy shipping moving through the English Channel.
The tunnels were abandoned in the 1950s and filled in with debris in the 1970s. In 2012 the tunnels were rediscovered by the National Trust after purchasing this section of the cliffs. The restoration work, carried over 18 months, included removal of 100 tonnes of rubble. The tunnels were opened to the public on 20 July 2015.
Near the site are two World War One sound mirrors.Kent Downs
The Kent Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent, England. They are the eastern half of the North Downs and stretch from the London/Surrey borders to the White Cliffs of Dover.
To the west, Surrey Hills AONB adjoins the Kent Downs AONB.List of best-selling singles of the 1990s in the United Kingdom
The UK Singles Chart is a music chart compiled by the Official Charts Company that calculates the best-selling singles of the week in the United Kingdom. During the 1990s the chart was based purely on the sales of physical singles, with airplay figures excluded from the official chart.
At the beginning of the 1990s, sales of singles and albums in the United Kingdom were compiled on behalf of the British music industry by Gallup. This continued until 1994, when the contract to compile the UK charts was won by Millward Brown, who took over on 1 February 1994. On 1 July 1998 Chart Information Network (CIN) took over the management of the chart: CIN changed their name to the Official UK Charts Company in October 2001, later shortened to the Official Charts Company in 2008.Unlike other decades, no decade-end charts for the 1990s for either singles or albums were broadcast on BBC Radio 1 at the end of 1999, and no detailed lists were published in the UK music trade magazine Music Week. Gallup's sales figures were not made available to its successors, and Millward Brown's sales data from 1994 to 1996 were later substantially revised. This made it difficult to obtain accurate sales figures for the decade. Two weeks before the end of the decade Music Week published lists of the top twenty best-selling singles and albums of the 1990s in the UK. Both top twenty lists included sales figures, but the subsequent revisions of the data have made the original 1999 figures unreliable.
The 19 September 2009 issue of the UK music trade magazine Music Week included a special supplement to celebrate its 50th anniversary. It contained updated charts of the top twenty best-selling singles of each decade of the magazine's existence, based on the most recent information available from the OCC. The following chart is therefore the most up to date estimate of the top twenty best-selling singles of the 1990s.Between 1990 and 1999, 26 singles sold more than 1 million copies in the United Kingdom. British singer-songwriter Elton John had the best-selling single of the decade with his double A-side single "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight", released in 1997. The single sold 4.86 million copies, over 3 million copies more than the second biggest-seller, "Unchained Melody"/"(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" by Robson & Jerome. At number five is Cher with "Believe", the best-selling single of all-time by a female artist in the UK.Molly Lamont
Molly Lamont (22 May 1910 – 7 July 2001) was a British film actress.
Lamont was born in Boksburg, Transvaal, South Africa. She began her career in British films in 1930 and for several years played small, often uncredited roles. Her roles began to improve by the mid-1930s, whilst resident in London, but later moved to Hollywood where she continued playing roles such as Cary Grant's fiancée in The Awful Truth (1937). Her other appearances include such popular films as The White Cliffs of Dover and Mr. Skeffington (both 1944).
She retired from acting in 1951 with more than fifty films to her credit. Lamont died on 7 July 2001 in Brentwood, Los Angeles at age 91.St Margaret's Bay Windmill
St Margaret's Bay Windmill is a Grade II listed Smock mill on South Foreland, the southeasternmost point of England. It was built in 1929 to generate electricity for the attached house, high on the White Cliffs of Dover.Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait, historically known as the Dover Narrows (French: Pas de Calais [pɑ d(ə) kalɛ] - Strait of Calais; Dutch: Nauw van Kales [nʌu̯ vɑn kaːˈlɛː] or Straat van Dover), is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel, marking the boundary between the Channel and North Sea, separating Great Britain from continental Europe. The shortest distance across the strait, 33.3 kilometres (20.7 miles; 18.0 nautical miles), is from the South Foreland, northeast of Dover in the English county of Kent, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French département of Pas-de-Calais. Between these points lies the most popular route for cross-channel swimmers. The entire strait is within the territorial waters of France and the United Kingdom, but a right of transit passage under the UNCLOS exists allowing unrestricted shipping.On a clear day, it is possible to see the opposite coastline of England from France and vice versa with the naked eye, with the most famous and obvious sight being the white cliffs of Dover from the French coastline and shoreline buildings on both coastlines, as well as lights on either coastline at night, as in Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach".The White Cliffs of Dover (film)
The White Cliffs of Dover is a 1944 American war drama film based on the verse novel The White Cliffs by Alice Duer Miller. It was made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Clarence Brown, and produced by Clarence Brown and Sidney Franklin. The screenplay was by Claudine West, Jan Lustig and George Froeschel, with the credit for additional poetry by Robert Nathan. Nathan stated in an interview that he wrote the screenplay as his first work as a contract writer for MGM but the studio credited Claudine West who died in 1943 as a tribute to her.Walter Kent
Walter Kent (born Walter Maurice Kaufman, November 29, 1911 – March 2, 1994) was an American composer and conductor. Some notable compositions are: "I'll Be Home for Christmas", "I’m Gonna Live Till I Die" and "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover".Weald–Artois Anticline
The Weald–Artois anticline is a large anticline, a geological structure running between the regions of the Weald in southern England and Artois in northern France. The fold formed during the Alpine orogeny, from the late Oligocene to middle Miocene as an uplifted form of the Weald basin through inversion of the basin. The folding resulted in uplift of about 180 metres (590 ft), though concurrent erosion may have substantially reduced the actual height of the resulting chalk ridges.
As is the case with all anticlines, older rock strata are found in the core of the structure. These are in this case Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous strata. The western part of the ridge (the Weald of Kent, Sussex and Surrey in England) has been greatly eroded, with the presumed chalk surface removed to expose older, Lower Cretaceous rocks (Wealden Group) and a small area of Upper Jurassic Purbeck Beds. On the French side of the English Channel more Upper Jurassic rocks crop out in a small area around Boulogne-sur-Mer and Desvres. At the flanks of the anticline outcrops of the (younger) Upper Cretaceous Chalk occur. The chalk survives as a rim of inward-facing escarpments, forming the North Downs and South Downs. The Chalk forms characteristic white cliffs on both sides of the English Channel, an example being the white cliffs of Dover.White Cliffs
White Cliffs may refer to:
The White Cliffs of Dover in the southeast of the United Kingdom
"(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover", a popular World War II song
The White Cliffs of Dover (film), a 1944 American film
White Cliffs, New South Wales, an opal-mining town in Australia
White Cliffs Solar Power Station, the town's main source of electricity between 1982 and 2004
White Cliffs (Utah), a series of cliffs in southern Utah formed from the Navajo Sandstone formation
White Cliffs, the former summer house of Daniel B. Wesson in Northborough, MassachusettsSee alsoWhitecliff, an area in Poole, Dorset, England
Whitecliffs, a small town in the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South IslandWhite Cliffs of Dover (disambiguation)
The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which form part of the coastline of England, facing the Strait of Dover.
White Cliffs of Dover may also refer to:
The White Cliffs of Dover (film), a 1944 American romance film based on a verse-novel by Alice Duer Miller
"(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover", a 1941 song written by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, popularized by Vera Lynn