24 hours in Canterbury – Exploring the Historic Cathedral City
The historic cathedral city of Canterbury in England, which sits on top of on the River Stour, is a UNESCO world heritage site. With its own coat of arms to match, this metropolitan is awash with locals and visitors alike that wish to indulge in the beauty that it has to offer. Recorded as the first settlement area of a Celtic tribe known as Cantiaci, Canterbury during sub-Roman times was known in Old English as Cantwareburh, or ‘Kentish Stronghold’. What was once a fortified city is now one of the best places in England to go for a day trip. Let’s take a look at the highlights!
Founded in 597 AD, Canterbury Cathedral is not only part of the World Heritage site, it is also the central Christian cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, of whom is the leader of the Church of England. What is more, the Cathedral was once a place of pilgrimage due to the shrine of former Archbishop Thomas Becket, as he died in 1170 by the hands of King Henry VIII's knights. It is because of the sheer numbers of pilgrims arriving that the cathedral was rebuilt from 1070 to 1077; the different architectural styles from Norman to Gothic is clearly displayed in the newer buildings.
One of the three original Royal castles of Kent, Canterbury Castle is of Norman architecture and it was built after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 on the main road that leads from Dover to London, for the purpose of guarding it.
Canterbury Heritage Museum
Situated in the 12 century Poor Priests’ Hospital next to the River Stour, the Canterbury Heritage Museum displays the extensive and interesting history of the city, including the Canterbury Cross, World War II relics, Anglo-Saxon and Viking relics and much more!
Canterbury Roman Museum
Established in 1961, the Canterbury Roman Museum is the resting place of many excavated treasures from the Roman period, including a pavement discovered after bombing in World War II. The museum itself is a Grade I listed courtyard house.
Whilst Westgate Hall is a dance and community hall, its age of over a hundred years gives proof that it has been the centrepiece of the community for decades. It has seen soldiers march out its doors to the battlefields for World War I in 1913, just to name one of its important functions.
Westgate Towers is the largest surviving gate in England; standing at 18 metres high, this Grade I listed building is also home to the Westgate Towers museum. Built in 1379 from rag stone, the road still passes underneath the gate, allowing the visitor the full experience of the medieval monument.
Eastbridge Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr
Eastbridge Hospital is not a hospital in the sense that it is a place for those who are sick; instead, it is a hospitality building, once used to accommodate pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket. Take the tour and explore the gothic architecture, the refectory of which has a 13 century mural and the pilgrim’s chapel.
St Augustine’s Abbey
Visit the museum at St Augustine’s Abbey or take the free audio tour; founded in 597 AD by St Augustine, the final resting places of Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent are found here. It is however situated outside the city walls, so make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to explore one of the most interesting landmarks of the Canterbury World Heritage site!