The crypt end of Canterbury Cathedral under a dusky sky.

Our Canterbury Tales, Kent, England

In Canterbury, Cities, Counties, Days Out, Kent, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, UK Travel by Janis2 Comments

Follow in the footsteps of Kings, Saints & Scholars

In the heart of the "Garden of England", Canterbury encases so much rich history that even the local King's School can boast of being the oldest in the world.
The Trinity Chapel end of Canterbury Cathedral.

A view of Canterbury Cathedral

The historic City of Canterbury is just under a one-hour journey on a train from London and an enjoyable day out for the family.
 
In no time at all, you’ll be immersing yourselves in all that is quintessentially English in the picturesque county of Kent.

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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Throughout Canterbury, there are charming references and reminders to the incredible 14th-century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
 
Geoffrey Chaucer created many remarkable literary works; however, one collection in particular that he is remembered for is The Canterbury Tales.

A statue to Geoffrey Chaucer, dressed as a pilgrim, sharing his Canterbury Tales, in the High Street of Canterbury, Kent.

The Canterbury Tales

The collection comprises of 24 tales, each from an individual's perspective of their pilgrimage. Amongst the 24 were a Friar, a Shipman and a Physician.
 
Chaucer produced fascinating stories of the pilgrim’s lives and their journeys to Thomas Becket's shrine in Canterbury Cathedral.
 
Geoffrey Chaucer is interred in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey, London.

Arriving at Canterbury Cathedral

Chaucer’s pilgrims would have arrived at Canterbury Cathedral entrance via the 'Bull Stake'. Now I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but bulls and baiting were involved. Thankfully the charming square had a name change around 200-years ago to 'The Buttermarket.'
The cobbled pedestrian Buttermarket area of Canterbury, with the war memorial in the centre.
The Buttermarket, Canterbury
This picturesque square is encircled by delightful historic buildings, which reveal the stunning Christchurch Gate. The spectacular and ornate entrance to Canterbury Cathedral.
The ornate stone Christchurch gate entrance to the Canterbury Cathedral
The Christchurch Gate entrance to Canterbury Cathedral
The stone war memorial in the Buttermarket area of Canterbury
The War Memorial
Today the Buttermarket’s emphasis is Canterbury’s War Memorial.

Kent coastal road trip

Discover 11 of Kent’s charming and historic coastal towns on a road trip. Uncover the delights of Broadstairs, Deal, Margate, Hythe, Folkestone and more.

There’s been a murder at Canterbury Cathedral

Strolling through Christchurch Gate, you’re are greeted by the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral. Culturally the centrepiece of the city and undoubtedly the most famous Christian building in England.
The crypt end of Canterbury Cathedral under a dusky sky.
Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral was founded in AD 597; it was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1067, a year after the Norman Conquest. The cathedral was rebuilt entirely by 1077 to a design based closely on that of the Abbey of Saint-Étienne in Caen.

Canterbury Cathedral is not only the seat of the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it is also renowned for the shrine of Thomas Becket.

An interior view down the nave of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent
Inside the Cathedral
A modern art piece consisting of 3 medieval swords above the spot where Archbishop Thomas Becket was executed in Canterbury Cathedral.
Where Thomas Becket was slain
Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral by four of King Henry II’s Knights in 1170. A sculpture marks the spot where the Archbishop was killed.
A black and white image of the Tomb of the Black Prince surrounded by railings
The Tomb of the Black Prince
Wandering through the beautiful Cathedral are gorgeous stained-glass windows and a peaceful cloister. This holds the tomb of King Henry IV and also 'The Black Prince'.

Did you know?

Did you know? That the Canterbury Cathedral been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1988

The King's School, Canterbury

The King’s School was founded in AD 597, the same year as Canterbury Cathedral. This ancient school is acknowledged to be the oldest continuously operated school in the world.
A gatehouse in King's School, Canterbury
A gatehouse in King's School, Canterbury
Within the King’s School grounds are some wonderful historic buildings. Including the schoolhouse dating from 1860 and the Norman Staircase is dating from the 12thcentury.
A stone cross in Memorial Court, King's School, Canterbury
Historic Canterbury
The King’s School in Canterbury was followed seven years later in AD 604 by the world’s second-oldest continuously operated school, The King’s School in Rochester, Kent.

An interesting read

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.


The King's Mile, Canterbury

Heading out of King’s School gate and you are now in the heart of The King’s Mile. A collection of intriguing streets and cobble-stoned lanes all within eyeshot of the ancient cathedral.
A shop with a red frontage in a historic building on the King's Mile in Canterbury
Crowthers in the King's Mile
A crooked 17th-century shop on the King's Mile in Canterbury
Sir John Boys House or the Crooked House
There are some fantastic independent shops and eateries around here. Although what may catch your eye is the quaint 17th-century half-timbered bookshop (on the corner of King St & Palace St). It has a bit of an odd angle about it (check out the front door).
The Sun Inn, a 15th-century Tudor building on a cobbled street in Canterbury
The Sun Hotel, Canterbury

Another notable building in the King's Mile is the unique Sun Hotel, a Grade II listed building once visited by Charles Dickens.
 
The Sun Hotel was formerly The Little Inn, built-in 1503 and featured in the novel ‘David Copperfield’ by Charles Dickens; it became Micawber's ‘Little Inn’.

Escape for a few days

Are you looking for that ‘perfick’ holiday hideaway to relax in while you discover the Garden of England?

After a day exploring the Kent coast and its many historic castles enjoy one of the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.

Then came the French Huguenots

Just off the King's Mile is Canterbury High Street. Along this historic street are many notable buildings, including Beaney House, which opened in 1899. It is now home to The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge. It is a free museum, art gallery and library (definitely worth a visit).
Beaney House, a late 19th-century Tudor revival building that is now home to the central museum, library and art gallery of the city of Canterbury
Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
Ambling along the High Street, you'll also notice the Old Weavers' House by the bridge over the Great Stour river.
A side shot of the Old Weavers' house alongside a branch of the River Stour running through Canterbury
The Old Weavers' House, Canterbury

During the 17th century, the French-speaking Protestant Huguenots arrived in the UK fleeing persecution. They introduced silk weaving to the City and soon made up 2,000 of Canterbury’s 5,000 population.

There is still a service, in French, held at the Huguenots chapel in Canterbury Cathedral every Sunday at 3:00pm.
 
If you look further down the High Street, you will see the Westgate

Kent rural road trip

Discover Kent on a rural road trip, lush rolling countryside filled with orchards, vineyards, quaint villages and oast houses, so it makes for a perfick visit.

To the Tower

The medieval Westgate is the largest surviving city gatehouse in England. It is the last one of Canterbury's seven city gates remaining.
 
Westgate was constructed in 1380 of Kentish ragstone and still remains in use today as traffic passes through its ancient drum towers.

The stone Westgate medieval gatehouse in Canterbury
The Westgate
Canterbury was once a walled city which was erected by the Romans in the 1st-century AD.
The old medieval stone walls of Canterbury
Canterbury's City Walls

The original city wall was built around AD 300, while the remaining wall, which is in place today, dates from the 14th-century.
 
Adjacent to the Westgate Tower is Westgate Gardens, with the Guildhall, the Tower House and a 200-year-old Plane tree within it.

The Great Stour river running through Westgate Gardens towards Westgate, Canterbury, Kent, England
The Great Stour & Westgate gardens
Westgate Gardens is a really pleasant and peaceful park to stroll around. If you are visiting Canterbury at the right time of year, you may even be able to enjoy some punting on the river.

Map, guides and more

When you’re nurturing the seed of a road trip, plotting your destinations across a paper map just brings the adventure to life. Whether it’s the touchy-feely aspect of the map or the rustling sound of mastering the art of origami while trying to fold it away, I’m not too sure. Nonetheless, the good old Ordnance Survey guys and gals always come up trumps.

Take a look at the vast array of maps you can choose from.

Canterbury Castle Ruins

To the south of Canterbury are the ruins of the ancient Norman Canterbury Castle, built originally of wood by William the Conqueror in motte-and-bailey style.
The stone exterior of the Norman Canterbury Castle
Canterbury Castle

Canterbury Castle was then later rebuilt in the early 12th-century of stone. Canterbury Castle was one of three Royal Castles built in Kent during the reign of Henry I. The other two famous fortresses are Rochester Castle and Dover Castle.

Unfortunately, Canterbury Castle has been closed to the public since 2018 due to deteriorating masonry.

Henry's Royal Castles

Why not also include a trip to the historic town of Rochester, where you can visit one of the other Royal Castles?

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Inspired to visit Canterbury?

Tempted to stroll the streets of Canterbury, take in its rich history and visit the famous Cathedral?
If you’re planning a day out in the UK or fancy touring the British Isles by train, then check out the offers and journey options with raileasy.
Have a peek at the latest offers from Booking.com, our preferred hotel booking website.
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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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Comments

  1. Inspirational and informative post. I expect that a lot more Britons will be exploring British cities over the coming months, due to concerns about travelling abroad in the wake of the coronavirus. Your site has beautiful photos.

    1. Author

      Thanks Stuart, there’s some fascinating history in Canterbury and the countryside all around it is beautiful. I think you’re right about home tourism, it’s certainly where will be venturing to in the short term.
      The credit goes to Gary for the lovely photos.

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