In 1697 Jacob des Bouverie purchased the Barony of Folkestone. It was his grandson, Jacob, the 2nd Earl (1750-1828) who leased off much of the estate for building plots that began turning Folkestone into a refined seaside resort. The Radnors were responsible for the villas and hotels along the seafront and clifftop, the development of The Leas, and for several parks and gardens in the town.

The arrival of the South Eastern Railway at Folkestone Harbour in 1844 created a cross-channel steam packet service to France which brought international travellers to Folkestone. Facilities for visitors included a cliff tramway opened in 1885 and a promenade pier opened in 1888 where the first ever Miss World was crowned.

Famous residents include Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, and H.G. Wells who lived in Sandgate for 13 years.