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Canterbury

Butchery Lane

Butchery Lane

The centre of Canterbury in July is not a pleasant place. Very much a victim of its own success, the place is heaving with tourists, and it is almost impossible to appreciate the architecture as you fight your way through the crowds.

And it is not only the crowds; the people who run the punts in Cambridge have decided to expand into other cities, and there are lots of touts trying to persuade you to take boat trips. All it needs is a few charity muggers for it to be a vision of hell on earth.

The Friars

The Friars

That said, returning again in late February when the crowds had gone, the near total absence of traffic in the city centre is remarkable. Being able to walk down the middle of the road, only occasionally having to move to the side, creates a great feeling of space and is very relaxing.

It just goes what can be achieved if you make a serious effort to control vehicles, and give the street back to pedestrians.


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The Castle

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 145 574

Last Visited: 2012

Castle Canterbury

Castle Canterbury

Canterbury is not known for its Castle. Hardly surprising, given the badly dilapidated state of the remains.

Canterbury Castle

Canterbury Castle

One of three Royal Castles in Kent, along with Rochester and Dover, it protected the route between London and Channel. Originally begun in around 1100AD, soon after the Norman Invasion, the castle boasted the fifth largest keep in England, with walls 2.5m (8ft) thick.

The castle fell into ruins, and most of it was demolished in 1826 when the area became a gas and water works. The keep was used as a coal store and acted as the base to a large water tank.

It was bought by the city council in 1928, the keep was restored, and it is now open to the public all year round. For opening times contact the Canterbury Visitor Centre on +44 (1227) 378100

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Canterbury Castle
      More on the history of the castle from the Castles and Palaces of the World site.
      http://www.everycastle.com/Canterbury-Castle.html

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Conquest House

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 149 580

Last Visited: 2012

Conquest House

Conquest House

From the outside Conquest House (17 Palace Street) looks like an unremarkable (for Canterbury) 16th century timber-framed house.

However in 1170, this is were four knights: De Tracy, De Moreville, Fitzurse and Le Breton left their armour before attending an interview with Thomas Becket in his palace over the road.

It didnʼt go well, and they later returned to rearmed themselves for the murder.

Apparently, the Norman undercroft and galleried hall still survive, buried in the fabric of the later building.

External Links and References

  • External Links

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Greyfriars Chapel and The Franciscan Gardens

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 146 578

Last Visited: 2012

Greyfriars Canterbury

Greyfriars Canterbury

Canterbury once boasted three friaries:

  • The Blackfriars, of which only the refectory and parts of the guest house remain;
  • The Whitefriars, the remains of which were destroyed by bombing in 1942 and were replaced with the Whitefriars Shopping Shopping Centre;
  • And the Greyfriars, of which only this small two story building remains.
Greyfriars Canterbury

Greyfriars Canterbury

Now a small chapel associated with the nearby Eastbridge Hospital , it was presumably the rere-dorter of the friary, as it is situated over an artificial water channel fed by the River Stour.

The entrance to the Greyfriars Chapel, and the surrounding Franciscan Gardens, is through an arch in Greyfriars House (site of the former friary guest house) in Stour Street. For opening times, please see the official web site detailed below.

External Links and References

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Queen Elizabeth's Guest Chamber

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 148 578

Last Visited: 2012

Queen Elizabeth's Guest Chamber

Queen Elizabeth's Guest Chamber

The date 1573 displayed prominently on the front of the Queen Elizabethʼs Guest Chamber, originally the Crown Inn but now a Café Nero, refers not to the date that it was built (which was probably some ten years earlier), but to the date Elizabeth I entertained the Duc dʼAlencon here, possibly with a view to marriage.

However, the most notable features, the four pink and white plaster panels, are later dating from 1663.

External Links and References

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Westgate Gardens and the Stour

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 144 579

Last Visited: 2012

The River Stour Westgate Gardens

The River Stour
Westgate Gardens

Talking of crowds and boat touts, another small haven of peace is the punts operated by the Canterbury River Navigation Company from near the Westgate.

These are operated by local Kentish Lads (or more likely Lads of Kent, but we wonʼt go into that now), and their views on the 'Cambridge Mob', who run the city centre boats, are less than complementary.

They prefer to avoid the City Centre (following a number of 'incidents'), and operate trips through the delightful Westgate Gardens and out into the countryside.

External Links and References

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The Westgate

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 146 580

Last Visited: 2012

The Westgate

The Westgate

The Westgate is the only one of Canterburyʼs seven medieval gates to survive. It has done so because it is enormous.

The corresponding gate on the opposite side of the city, the St Georgeʼs Gate, was pulled down in 1801 as it was barely wide enough for a horse and cart.

Double decker buses, however, still regularly pass through the Westgate, albeit very, very carefully.

One of the few remains of the city walls on the this side of the city, it was built in around 1379, and once housed the West Gate Towers Museum. Currently (2014) closed to the public.

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Wincheap Gate

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 146 573

Last Visited: 2012

Wincheap Gate

Wincheap Gate

Whilst the Westgate is difficult to miss (particularly if you are driving a bus) and the St Georgeʼs Gate is at least marked out in setts in the paving, to the north west the Northgate exists only as a street name and to the south east the original gate, known as the Worth Gate is no longer to be seen.

However, as explained on the display board, in 1548 the Worth Gate was blocked in order to turn the castle bailey into a private garden, and a new gate was built to the south west known as the Wincheap Gate

This gate was rebuilt in 1670, but after a hundred years it was pulled down as it had become ruinous and dangerous. Only the eastern jamb of the gate survives, complete with its stone inscribed with the word 'Farewell'. There used to be a similar stone inscribed 'Welcome' on its opposite number.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Wincheap Gate
      Lots more information and old pictures from the Historic Canterbury site.
      http://www.machadoink.com/Wincheap%20gate.htm

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Lady Wootton's Green

Location

Canterbury Map

OS Ref: TR 153 578

Last Visited: 2012

The green linking Abbot Fyndonʼs fine early 14th century gate to St Augustineʼs Abbey to the Dean and Chapterʼs Postern Gate into the Cathedral Close (and indeed the earlier, now blocked, Queningate), has been known as Lady Woottonʼs Green since the 17th century.

Ethelbert, King of Kent

Ethelbert, King of Kent

It was named after Lady Mary Wootton, the widow of Thomas Lord Wotton of Boughton Malherbe, (or possibly her step mother-in-law Lady Margaret, sources differ) who lived in St Augustineʼs Palace, as it was then called, until her death in 1658 (or 1652 in the latter case).

During the war and all bar one of the houses flanking the green were destroyed by a bomb that also damaged the Fyndon Gate. The mock Georgian post-war replacements are unremarkable but do not distract from what is a surprisingly peaceful and atmospheric spot, given that it is right next to the busy ring road.

The two fine statues by Stephen Melton of Ramsgate of King Ethelbert of Kent and his Christian wife Queen Bertha were installed in 2007. She worshiped at nearby St Martinʼs, and it is through her that Christianity got a foothold in this country.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Lady Wootton's Green
      Detailed history from the Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society's site.
      http://www.canterbury-archaeology.org.uk/wootton/4590809572
    • Lady Woottons Green
      More information and lots of old pictures from the Historic Canterbury site.
      http://www.machadoink.com/Lady%20Woottons%20Green.htm

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