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St Augustine was sent by the Pope in 597 AD to re-establish Christianity in southern England. Ruins of the monastery built by Augustine still remain and he founded the first cathedral in England where the present magnificent building now stands. Canterbury has been a European pilgrimage site of major importance for over 800 years since the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. Today it is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in England. The medieval city centre bustles with famous name stores and exclusive boutiques while the picturesque side streets are home to smaller specialist shops, pubs and restaurants.

Canterbury's corner of the county of Kent (the "Garden of England") is rich in charming villages and glorious countryside, which is easy to explore by car, bicycle or public transport. Take a leisurely stroll in the nearby coastal towns of Herne Bay with its splendid seafront gardens and Whitstable with its working harbour and colourful streets of fishermen's cottages. You can be sure that a warm welcome awaits you in Canterbury.

Copyright © Canterbury City Council

For incomparable heritage, look no further than Canterbury. The City has all kinds of shops, restaurants, museums and other attractions, including the spectacular Cathedral, which forms part of the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the perfect place to entertain every visitor. Much of the city is pedestrianised and both train stations (Canterbury East and West) provide excellent links to London and Europe. The city now also has three park and ride sites and a good network of cycle routes including the Crab and Winkle Way, which follows the route of the first passenger steam railway. Alternatively you could explore the city by taking a horse drawn carriage ride or a punt trip. Make sure you don't miss out in the opportunity to visit the Big Dig and the opportunity to discover Canterbury's history at ground level.

And if you want to get away from city life there is easy access to the surrounding countryside with a several village stations and wonderful countryside for rambling, nature spotting and pub hunting. Nearby four beaches have again received awards in the Tidy Britain Seaside Awards: Herne Bay West, Tankerton, Reculver and Herne Bay Central.

New developments as at 05/04/2002 18:20:36

  • Golden Jubilee: celebrations being planned 1-4 June plus Canterbury will receive the Jubilee Baton on 23 June. The Events Office (01227 862533) is co-ordinating a draft list of what's happening.
  • Capital of Culture: Canterbury and East Kent are bidding to be European Capital of Culture in 2008. The first phase bid deadline was the end of March and by August Canterbury City Council should know if the area has selected as a "City of Culture". One of those cities will then go on to be the UK's Capital of Culture (each country gets a year).
  • Whitefriars development including the Big Dig: The entire development will be finished in 2006 although the "West Area" which will include the new multi storey car park, the shopping centre, housing and new library will be completed by 2004. This is one of the largest city centre redevelopments and is offering an unprecedented opportunity for archaeological work. The Big Dig is now open until August.
  • Longport may be of interest to any group organisers or tour operators. It is £10 for a day's coach parking but they must pre-book to benefit from the drop-off/pick-up facility. Call the booking hotline for further details: 01227 452532.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's. A joint pass is now available and the state of the art Cathedral Education Centre has just openined its accommodation.
  • Macdonald Hotels now owns the County and Chaucer Hotels and they are therefore able to accommodate bigger groups between the two. (Sandra Peace, 01227 766266)
  • Heritage Museum - Canterbury's Heritage Museum has been given a facelift. The extra space will give the Museum a new centre focusing on children and on education. It will also provide a new museum shop, toilets and an attractive inner courtyard. For further information call 01227 452747 or email:

Copyright © Canterbury City Council

Unusual details

- Ian Fleming often stayed at Bridge just outside Canterbury. The London to Dover coach which went through Bridge was the 007 and the real Chitty Chitty Bang Bang lived at nearby Higham Park. The book You Only Live Twice was written at The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom.

- Orlando Bloom who plays Legolas in the Lord of the Rings came from Canterbury. He lived in one of the villages nearby and went to school in the city.

- Robert Cushman signed the contract for the hiring of the Mayflower in what is now a restaurant in Canterbury's Palace Street.

- Michael Foale, NASA astronaut went to The King's School in Canterbury.

- Rupert Bear was born in Canterbury as his writer Mary Tourtel lived here for many years.

- The diving suit was invented in Whitstable which was also home to the first passenger steam railway.

- Sir Thomas More's head is reputed to be stored in a lead box in the Roper vault in Canterbury's St Dunstan's Church. His daughter, Margaret, married Will Roper, of the Canterbury Ropers.

- Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare's and famous for his alleged involvement in spying, lived and went to school in Canterbury.

- W Somerset Maugham lived in the Canterbury area and went to school there.

- Joseph Conrad who wrote Heart of Darkness on which the film Apocalypse Now is based leave near Canterbury and is buried in the cemetery.

Other ideas

- Climb the winding stair of Canterbury's medieval West Gate Towers, past the prison cell and onto the roof for a panoramic view over the city.

- See how the old ducking stool and stocks at England's smallest Town Hall in Fordwich.

- Visit the magnificent, newly restored Italian water gardens of Higham Park

- Stroll by the river and watch the punts in Canterbury's tranquil Westgate Gardens

- Get a birds eye view of the Dane John Gardens from high on the medieval city wall. Newly restored the gardens now contain new sculptures, a bandstand, a fountain and is home to the hugely popular annual Christmas Euromarket.

- Follow the sculpture trail along Herne Bay's newly created seafront gardens

- Canterbury Cathedral was the inspiration for TS Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral", and its first performance was in the Cathedral Chapter House.

- Thomas Grey, John Keats, Jonathon Swift, Daniel Defoe and W. Somerset Maugham all have excellent links with Canterbury reinforcing the city's reputation as a centre for literature.

- When it comes to freshly caught oysters, the picturesque fishing town of Whitstable has a Harbour with a world famous reputation for fabulous seafood. - Explore Reculver's Roman Fort and Saxon Church as you take the seas air along the North Kent Coast

- Canterbury has a myriad of little independent shops in its narrow medieval streets selling everything from kilts to Kendle Mint Cake

- Drop into Roman Canterbury where a stunningly preserved mosaic pavement is spread out before you in the Roman Museum

Copyright © Canterbury City Council

Top five attractions

  • Explore the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion at Canterbury Cathedral. Contact 01227 762862 (part of UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Visit the birthplace of Christianity in southern England through the World Heritage site of St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church and Canterbury Cathedral. Contact: 01227 452747
  • Step back in time with Canterbury Museums including Canterbury Roman Museum, Canterbury Heritage Museum, Canterbury West Gate Museum or Canterbury Royal Museum & Art Gallery. Contact: 01227 452747
  • Experience the sights sounds and smell of the Middle Ages in the Canterbury Tales Visitor Attraction reconstruction of Chaucer's colourful tales of chivalry, romance and horror. Contact: 01227 479277
  • View Canterbury from a different angle by walking along the city walls and visiting Canterbury Castle.

Essential tips / local knowledge

- Venture off the main streets - the little side roads are packed full all the shops, pubs and restaurants that make Canterbury so special.

- Beautiful riverside gardens that start at the West Gate and reach out into the countryside. Dane John Gardens have recently re-developed complete with new bandstand.

- Stay for more than a day or you'll only scratch the surface and never discover the real Canterbury.

- Take a guided tour of the city by joining a tour from outside Canterbury Visitor Information Centre - 01227 766567 or 01227 459779.

- Use the Park and Ride - don't struggle with traffic and a medieval street plan!

- Whitefriars - visit the Big Dig before August; it may be your only chance to see this hidden history of Canterbury… Time Team are monitoring progress and televising.

Local food and drink specialities

Shepherd Neame - 01795 532206 (brewery tours available).
Hop Daemon - locally brewed beer
Kentish Fayre at KCC - 01622 696165

5 top places to eat

Augustine's - 01227 453063
Tuo e Mio - 01227 761471
Café des Amis - 01227 464390
Bistro Vietnam - 01227 760022
Shed Cantina - 01227 450288

5 top places to stay
County Hotel - 01227 766266
Chaucer Hotel - 01227 464427
Falstaff Hotel - 01227 462138
Swarling Manor Oast - 01227 700393
Howfield Manor - 01227 738294

What to buy - local specialities

Canterbury Bears - Can be bought at C&H Fabrics
Hollywood Bread Co. - 01227 450001
Sausage Heaven, Sun Street - 01227 765301

What to do if you only have 24 hours:

24 hours is not enough time but the minimum requirements are:
Guided tour with Canterbury Guild of Guides - 01227 459779
The World Heritage site of Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church

Things of particular interest to DINKS

Champagne punt trips from the West Gate - 0585 318301
Ghost tour with Green Bard Productions - 07779 575831

Things of particular interest to over 55s

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides - 01304 364027
Marlowe Theatre - 01227 787787

Things of particular interest to 18 - 25's

Chicago Rock Cafe - 01227 761276
Kipps - 01227 786121
Youth Hostel - 01227 472911
Canterbury Environment Centre - 01227 457009

Things of particular interest to families with young children, pre-teens or teenagers

Rupert Bear Gallery at Heritage Museum - 01227 452747
Canterbury Tales - 01227 479227
Howletts Wild Animal Park - 01227 721286
Wildwood - 01227 712111


Birthplace of Christianity and today home to Mother Church of the Anglican Communion
Extraordinary history - literary and religious
Location between London and Europe - easy access to channel ports and tunnel
World Heritage Site including Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church
Part walled city with Norman Castle
Seat of learning for 1400 years (currently two universities)
Roman museums with mosaic pavement
Bidding to be European Capital of Culture

* Information is courtesy of the Canterbury City Council



Bonfire Night
5 November

On 5th November 1605, soldiers discovered a man called Guy Fawkes in a cellar under the Houses of Parliament. With him were at least twenty barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was arrested and tortured. At last he gave way and told his torturers about a plot to blow up Parliament together with the king, James I, his ministers and Members of Parliament.

In 1606 Parliament agreed to make 5th November a day of public thanksgiving and ever since then the day has been celebrated with fireworks and bonfires.

The Clock Tower
Photo: PKG

Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show is the world's most popular and renowned flower show. The best in gardening and horticulture is brought together in one place for one week in May.

Piccadilly Circus
Photo: PKG

Edinburgh International Festival

Each year the Edinburgh International Festival stages one of the greatest celebrations of the arts, attracting audiences from around the world to the city's thrilling atmosphere. The festivities offer a unique opportunity to experience the excitement of live performance by internationally renowned artists as well as the joy of discovering new and unfamiliar works.

St. James Park
Photo: PKG

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Regatta was first held in 1839. Originally staged by the Mayor and people of Henley as a public attraction with a fair and other amusements, the emphasis rapidly changed so that competitive amateur rowing became its main purpose.

Horse Guards Parade
Photo: PKG

London Film Festival

With a host of gala screenings, special events, The Guardian Interviews, and UK, European and World Premieres, the British Film Institute's London Film Festival is the leading non-competitive event in the international cinema calendar.

Kenwood House
Photo: PKG

London International Boat Show

The London Boat Show is a glittering affair, with all the best in boating on display. London's Earls Court houses the international boat show with all the latest in boats, equipment, watersports and holidays.

Trafalgar Square
Photo: PKG

London Marathon

Aside from being a natural arena for competitiveness and human achievement, the London Marathon is a huge asset to thousands of charities who enter athletes in the hope of raising money, usually on a sponsorship basis.

Waddesdon Manor
Photo: PKG

Notting Hill Carnival

Every August Bank Holiday the Notting Hill Carnival brings London alive. The festival began as West Indian immigrants moved into the area during the fifties and is now one of the best carnivals in the UK attracting over a million people each year. The first carnival was in 1964, and grew up from the struggle between the black West Indian community and the police. Today the carnival celebrates the diverse cultures which make up Britain's identity.

Westminster Bridge
Photo: PKG

Royal Welsh Show

This is the flagship show for WCC members. Held in the South Glamorgan Hall, which is situated close to some of the main entrances to the showground, it is also near to the livestock and show rings which attract many thousands of visitors.

Photo: PKG

Southampton International Boat Show

The biggest and best of the season's boats is on display, as well as the latest in sailing wear, equipment and great holiday offers.

Green Park
Photo: PKG

State Opening of Parliament

The Queen formally opens the new session of Parliament each year. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh she travels in the State Coach to the Palace of Westminster. Before the royal procession sets out, a detachment of the Yeomen of the Guard (dating from 1485, they are the oldest of the royal bodyguards) search the cellars of the Houses of Parliament. This tradition dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested whilst preparing to blow up Parliament. Today the Yeomen are reinforced by police in their search.

The Clock Tower
Photo: PKG
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