From BBC history
"When the English Channel was formed by the sea breaking through, an island of chalk was left on the east side of the county. It was separated from the rest of Kent by the Wantsum Channel.
The Wantsum Channel was originally up to two miles wide, and as you drive towards the peninsular you can see where it once was. The Channel was protected by Richborough Castle at the western end (built by the Romans) and Reculver Fort guarded the other. The first bridge across to the island was built in 1485 and even as late as the mid 1700's there was a ferry from Sandwich.
Thanet as it was when the Romans were in Kent.Over the course of the last millennium, the channel became silted up with silt from the River Stour and the shingle which was building up along the coast helped join Thanet to the rest of Kent.
Even today there are remains of the small harbours and quays in the villages that bordered Wantsum Channel."
Ramsgate was once a small fishing hamlet attached as a "Ville" to St. Laurence Parish prior to 1700 however after the Romans left about 400AD it was 1st settled by the Vikings Hengist & Horsa in 449AD, the population was always relatively small with the main industry farming and fishing until the decision to build a harbour in 1749 to service the burgeoning trade with Russia. Remember Dover and Folkestone's harbours came later.
The Ramsgate Society states "The towns earliest reference is as Hraefn's ate, meaning cliff gap, It later came to be known as Remmesgate, or sometimes as Ramisgate around the beginning of the 13th Century (1200 to 1230). Some 120 years later, perhaps 1360 or so, the area became known as Ramesgate. At this time this small area was little more than a fishing hamlet with some farms scattered about it as a part of one or more of the local 'Manors'. Then in 1483 Ramsgate was adopted as a limb of Sandwich and thus a part of the Cinque Ports confederation." further "Elegant Georgian houses with their beautifully proportioned sash windows were built throughout the 18th century, later evolving into the bow window fronted houses of the Regency Period, 1812 - 1820.
Ramsgate also benefitted from the building of Nelson Crescent and Wellington Crescent with their fine Chinese Pagoda-style canopied balconies and 'delicate as gossamer' ironwork railings and supports, that further embellished these wonderful Regency properties throughout the period up to the Victorian era. The young Princess Victoria visited the town as a child in the 1830s." and "Around the turn of the century - and particularly 1792 to 1815, the Napoleonic War years - Ramsgate became a busy garrison town, with tens of thousands of troops embarking and disembarking through the harbour to take part in the many battles. This necessitated the town becoming fortified,though little trace remains today, with rifle shooting on the sands and Drill Parades in Spencer Square. Ramsgate Harbour was the only harbour available for such traffic as Dover and Folkestone harbours were not to be built until many years later.
The town continued to grow during the Victorian period, and Ramsgate is particularly well endowed with some fine buildings from this time"