Welcome to Canterbury, an ancient and historic city in S.E. England parts of which have been declared a World Heritage Site.
Skyline with Cathedral tower.
Information on Canterbury
Canterbury has a population of about 43,500 and is situated about 65 miles (105 km) S.E. of London. The name means ‘stronghold or fortified town of the people of Kent.’ There has been occupation on the current site dating back about 2000 years to pre-Roman times. Today, Canterbury is best known through its Cathedral which is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church.
The location was occupied in the pre-Roman, Iron Age era. The Romans occupied Britain from AD 43- AD 410 during which time Canterbury was known as Durovernum Cantiacorum, apparently a non-military, civilian settlement. In AD 597 missionaries from Rome converted the King of Kent to Christianity and established a Cathedral subsequent to which Canterbury has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The present Cathedral dates from around the 12th century and, together with St. Augustine’s Abbey and St. Martin’s Church, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The settlement progressively grew and evolved through the Saxon, Viking, Norman and medieval periods and today we have an extensive physical legacy to connect with those periods including the remains of substantial city walls, medieval wall gates and many other historic buildings.
Canterbury has strong links with English literature, particularly the writings of Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Particular sites of interest in Canterbury
→Roman Period: Walling and remains can be viewed near the Parrot Pub in Church Lane.
→Canterbury Cathedral: Centre of the Anglican Church and displaying a variety of architectural styles including Perpendicular Gothic and Romanesque. Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral in 1170, a location which has since been a place of pilgrimage.
→St. Augustine’s Abbey: Remains of structure dating from 12th-16th centuries, albeit on earlier site established in the 6th century.
St. Augustine's Abbey
→St. Martin’s Church: A very ancient place of worship, possibly dating back to the 6th century. St. Martin’s is England’s oldest parish church in continuous use.
→Greyfriar’s Chapel: Britain’s oldest Franciscan building, which spans the River Stour. This chapel stands in the Franciscan Garden which can be visited.
→Church of St. Paul: Possibly from 13th century. Located in Church Street.
→Crooked House: Located in Palace Street and also known as Sir John Boys House. Early 17th century. Skewed due to structural alterations which went awry.
→St. Mary Magdalen Tower: Physical remains of a 12th century church which was substantially demolished in the 19th century. Located on Burgate Street.
→Canterbury Castle: A popular visitor attraction which dates from the 12th century. It’s predecessor, a motte and bailey structure, dates from the immediate post Norman Conquest period of late 11th century.
→Westgate: A medieval gatehouse, some 60 ft tall, dating from 1379.
→Shopping: In the heart of the city can be found the busy Whitefriars shopping centre whilst the King’s Mile is home to independent retailers along old cobbled streets.
→Gardens: Close to Whitefriars can be found Dane John Gardens. There is also the Westgate Gardens and Fransiscan Garden.
→Museums: The three principal sites are the Canterbury Heritage Museum, Roman Museum and the West Gate Towers Museum.
→Tours: Visitors can avail of river tours and walking tours.