I have lived in Canterbury for the past 2 years as a student studying at Canterbury Christ Church University. I feel that I have seen what Canterbury has to offer both the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.
As I am originally from the outskirts of London coming to Canterbury was quite a change for me. Although it is a very busy town one still gets the sense of the original charm due to the historic architecture such as the castle walls, the old paved roads and the beautiful Cathedral that can be seen from far away.
There are many shops in the town centre which attract many visitors from all over England and the rest of Europe. Being close to Dover there are many French tourists in particular. Most of these shops however are very pricey and so for students like me, who are on a tight budget, it is very hard to shop!
Renting in Canterbury is also expensive. A typical price for student accommodation would be around £350 per month. For holiday makers some cheap hotels and B&B's can be found although these are quite a walk from the towns centre. There are also a few beaches just a short train or bus ride away.
In the daytime one can visit; the cathedral which is between £6-8, Canterbury Tales museum, the old castle ruins, the Bowlplex which also consists of an aesthetic ice rink, the cinema and Laser wars. There are also many restaurants, both your typical fast food (McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and Pizza Hut), your greasy spoons cafe's and the higher class restaurants. I would recommend Zizzi's in particular as it is beautiful in there and you can even sit outside and eat in the picturesque garden (weather permitting of course).
Nightlife in Canterbury is not too great. Certainly for a place jam packed with students one would think that the town would be buzzing but with only three main clubs (which close very early at 2am), there is little else to do. There are many pubs to go to but most of these also close early and other than the two Whetherspoons at either end of the town, drinks are very pricey. This lack of nightlife entertainment means that you can get quite a lot of trouble with bored youths.
Overall it is a nice place to visit perhaps for a day or so but I would not reccommend a long stay. If you are into history then it is ideal but if you are up for a good night out then this is not the place for you.
Canterbury is a compact and historical city that the recession and both the national Labour and Conservative controlled Canterbury City Council have done much to damage.
In terms of negatives, parking in Canterbury is difficult. There are two main park and ride facilities one at Sturry and one at Morrisons and a third one planned but now on hold because of the ongoing economic recession in the UK and difficult economic environment.
Parking centrally, there are two may be three main car parks, the multi storey at Whitefriars which is expensive and usually full parking is around 1.50 an hour, then there is Watford Street Car park again usually full.
Although Canterbury has much in the way of historical interest and is a world heritage centre, with the Cathedral itself and the buildings on Mercury Lane, and other historical buildings including Westgate, the City suffers from traffic congestion though due to the recession this has substantially lessened as people use their cars less.
There is a central bus station adjacent to the Whitefriars shopping centre that links for National Express bus services to London and beyond and buses to the rest of the East Kent towns, Deal, Sandwich, Broadstairs, Ramgate, Herne Bay, Dover and Folkestone.
Two main rail stations Canterbury West to Charing Cross which is now the high speed link to London St Pancras in 45 minutes which makes commuting worth while and the slower service from Canterbury East to London Victoria which takes around an hour and a half.
Housing in Canterbury to buy is expensive, there is a large student population with various universities in the city such as Christ Church and Kent University in the city, and renting is also expensive in the city partly because of the students.
Most employment is in small business, public sector, Education especially Higher Education, the NHS, and in Retail. Wages in Canterbury are less than the Kent Average and less than the South East Average.
Canterbury has good housing stock for a population of 50,000 which swells with students to around 106,000.
Many buildings are grade one or grade 2 listed and some are modern. There are also a lot of flats. Good areas in Canterbury to buy are the City Centre, though noisy in the evenings due to the bars and during the day due to the shops, other areas that are nice include Harble Down, Barham, just outside the city walls and near to the Westgate Towers.
Avoid the area of Sturry and Wincheap, both are cheaper and avoid Thanington without. Many anti social behaviour problems and a large stock of social housing.
Canterbury has one small and dated cinema called the Odeon which is expensive and uncomfortable, a recently opened bowling alley in part of the former Safeways / Morrisons store in St George's Street Canterbury, and a sports centre near to Vauxhall.
The 1930's art deco Marlowe Theatre which was the original Odeon Cinema has now been demolished and is being rebuilt in a modern style that is out of keeping with Canterbury's UNESCO's World Heritage site.
In fact Canterbury CC are allowing ugly and modern buildings to appear all over the city without any care to the historical environment of Canterbury.
Hotels in Canterbury include the Abode a four star formerly the County that is expensive and overrated for where it is with difficult car parking which isn't on site.
Other hotels are further out including a Best Western Hotel that is 3 star and also not very good on New Dover Road and the Thistle Swan hotel near St George's roundabout.
Cantebury has an abundance of restaurants both individual say The Olive Grove ( Italian) and Cafe De China ( Chinese) that thrive alongside the chains, Carluccio's (in Fenwicks), Strada, (Italian), Wagamama et al.
Canterbury also has a lot of retail stores, though nowadays these are mainly chains as independents cannot afford the ridiculous costs of leases in the city centre which in my personal view is damaging Canterbury as a retail shopping centre of choice.
Because of the excessive costs of leases which are more expensive than Tunbridge Wells where I live which is nearer to London and also with a higher disposable income, many retail chains have folded in Canterbury due to administration and or the cost of leases.
Examples include Whittards, closed down, Woolworths still empty over 13 months on and on the market at a ridiculous cost of 325k more than the Tunbridge Wells Woolworths store was which is much larger and now relet, whilst Canterbury's lies empty, as well as Warehouse gone, Bay Trading, Swatch, Gap, Dolland and Aitchinson, Zavvi, Qube, Espirit, Coffee Republic, USC, Free Spirit, and many others have gone from Canterbury leaving the Whitefriars shopping centre the centre piece of Canterbury's retail revival adorned with empty stores and to let signs, which is embarrassing for Canterbury and it's citizens. There is a retail recession but Canterbury is faring badly compared to say Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Bluewater and many other comparable cities and towns partly because of the cost of leases is failing to attract new retailers to the city.
For the retailers left, you have a large Fenwicks which is bigger than the Tunbridge Wells store, a big BHS ( not that good but I don't like BHS anyway), a large 3 floor M and S ( again less good than the Tunbridge Wells store), and Nasons and Debenhams Department stores the first an independent the latter part of a chain over three different stores and many levels but very nice all the same.
Canterbury also has a good night life with for example the Works, and many pub chains and restaurants though sadly Ha Ha who I liked in St Margaret's Street is now shored up with scaffolding to prevent the building collapsing and this is a grade two building.
Canterbury is a nice compact city, but for retail it really looks like it is dying as a city centre. I think this is the fault of both the city council with their silly parking policy and the disvestment of the shopping centre which was previously owned by one company Land Securities and now owned by three different companies who only have an interest in their fast buck and profit returns.
I increasingly avoid Canterbury nowadays because as of January 2010 all I notice are more chains closing in the city and no sign of any of the Whitefriars Centre voids being re-let any time soon
Do as a day trip, may be a weekend avoid for a holiday there are better places than Canterbury to enjoy aka Tunbridge Wells and Brighton and less populated with tourists
Canterbury really is one of my favourite cities for so many reasons. Firstly I find that the presence of the cathedral is like none other. It really is just so beauitful to look at and it can be seen from anywhere in the city which I just love. Even at night you can see it clearly because it is lit up and just looks wonderful. I love the feeling of the historic city because as you walk through the town you can just feel the character with all of the tudor buildings and even the streets are just so old which I simply love!
Despite the city being dominated by the cathedral I love how there has been a modern twist added to the town. There has been the whitefriars development which has led to many more modern shops including H&M, river island etc into the town. I found this to be great because it gave the town a lot more vareity with shops. One of my favourtie parts about the city of canterbury is the number of cafes that there are! There truly is so much choice and even with resteraunts there is so much choice and it is very reasonably priced. The one thing that I really don't like is the parking because it is very hard to get and it is also very expensive.
Canterbury I find is a great place to take your friends and family mainly because there is so much to do. I found that there are some great hotels available and there is even a cinema making it ideal for watching a film also. I also really like how it is well connected because it makes it easy to reach from where ever.
I recently visited Canterbury, Kent as a long weekend whilst seeing a relative who recently moved to the area. So my review is that of a traveller/tourist rather than as a resident.
I travelled by train via London. There are two ways of doing this if you are coming from London: either via Victoria station or via Charing Cross. There are two stations in Canterbury, East and West. Leaving from Victoria will usually take you to Canterbury East and from Charing Cross to Canterbury West. Either way, Canterbury is so small that if you are staying somewhere central it will be within walking distance of either station. The train trip from London is rather long: over an hour and a half. The train stops a lot along the way and is quite slow moving. On the South Eastern train I travelled on there were luggage racks available - either above seats or at the end of the carraige. There are also refreshments (including alcoholic beverages) and snacks sold after all tickets have been verified.
On arrival at Canterbury East I noticed that there were taxi cabs waiting outside if you need them. There is a fly-over style bridge opposite the station which you must cross if you intend to walk into the city. The bridge leads up onto the old city walls which look grand and ancient. Routes lead off the high walls into a park where there is a mini castle maze for children to explore as well as a tree spotted quiet area and lawn. You may also spot an ancient 'hanging' pole which is located at the top of an incredibly steep hill and is a macabre reminder of olden day practices.
I stayed at the Abode Hotel which is very central in the town. It is located on Stour Street, a busy bustling street that has a lot of shops and restaurants on it. The Abode is directly opposite the old library, a historic building of magnificent beauty. The library is currently closed (as of March 2009) for refurbishment. The Abode is a four star hotel whose assets include the brilliant chef Michael Caine's restaurant with his exquisite dishes. Room rates vary from approximately £89 per room for a double or twin room. Rooms are all ensuite. There is a small lift and staircase leading to all three floors. There is a bar and restaurant on the ground floor and a resting area or lounge on the first floor. Continental or cooked breakfasts are served and there is a large selection of cereals, breads, fruits, yogurts, porridge, juices and smoothies. The cooked breakfasts are plated beautifully.
Around the Catherdral, which is the major tourist attraction in the city, there is a condensed area of shops, tea rooms, cafes and restaurants. The streets are very busy. Expect to bump into groups of foreign tourists and children as well as a large student population. Buskers also frequent the streets. The appearance of many shop fronts and buildings in the city is remarkable - many having a Tudor design. It looks very unique and pretty and almost unreal - as if you might have stepped back in time. There are of course your share of large multinational chainstores and companies alongside your quaint tea-rooms. Starbucks has a prime place right next to the entrance to the catherdral although thankfully it's gold and brown facade has been re-designed to blend in with the ancient architecture.
Whitefriars shopping area is a large collection of well known stores located in the east end of the city. Large clothing outlets like Dorothy Perkins, Esprit, Topshop and Marks and Spencers take up residence here. There is a large Tesco store which sells food and this is the best grocery superstore in the nearby area. The stores are huge and offer a lot of choice.
As a visitor I stopped for a coffee break here and there. One place I visited was a cafe called Ferns. This is located opposite the entrance to the cathedral. It is upstairs and you need to be able to climb a steep staircase to get inside. Gregorian music is piped into the small cafe. They serve lunches and teas. Typical choice on the menu includes scones with clotted cream and tea. The treacle tart they serve is divine!
Another cafe I stopped at is Tiny Tim's Tearoom which is located on St. Margarets Street. This is reportedly the most haunted street in Canterbury. The cafe has a ghost story of it's own - after rennovation work revealed child's teeth, linen and shoes stashed in a wall. Since the removal of the objects the ghosts of three children are said to haunt the cafe. They serve fabulous cakes and scones and specialise in exotic teas and coffees. The majority of customers were quite old and whilst I was there Al Jolson was playing on their sound system! It was quite relaxing though and the food and service is faultless.
Tourist shops are many and there are lot's of typically 'English' charms. The Catherdral shop a few buildings away from the entrance to the Cathedral has lots of items to purchase - most of them with a Christian design. The Catherdral itself is of course worth visiting. Whilst looking small on the outside it seems to go on forever inside. It is a charming beauty although it is always packed full of tourist groups. I would say that if you can still find a union with a spiritual sense here. Tickets are £7 for adults to enter. There is also a pass card available to buy which gets you entry to several attractions.
Restaurants are plentiful and whatever choice of cuisine you desire you are bound to find it. There are the usual chains like Pizza Hut and Ask Pizza located quite centrally as well as smaller independent bars and pubs.
If you are planning a visit to Canterbury a great website to visit is:
which has full details of all major attractions in the City including the Roman museum, Rupert the Bear Museum, River trips, Canterbury Tales experience (a re-enactment of medieval Canterbury - rather like the Jorvic Centre at York).
Overall I would say that Canterbury is a very pleasant place to visit, although it is busy and packed with chatty tourists. I would recommend taking time to stroll through the streets and looking at the older buildings. I would also suggest getting out of the main tourist hub and spending some time at local park areas like Blean Woods, to take a breather from the hustle and bustle! I think that the spirit of Canterbury can be absorbed in a couple of days and that if you intend staying any longer than this you may run out of things to do. Great place for any non-British visitors too, as I imagine this place will be their idea of what England is really like!
Beautiful place which is mainly due to some of its architecture. I have lived in the Medway Towns (10yrs), Sittingbourne (17 yrs), and now Canterbury (5yrs) but the latter town has more drugs and aggressive people than the other two areas put together. The early local male 20's to late 40 somethings seem particularly plagued by simply horrible disenfranchised yobs. Thankfully however, the vast number of students (I know some of those can be bad also) from the universities act to dilute the local population, otherwise this place would be a cesspit of crime.Be glad to get out of the place.
Canterbury is a fantastic place to go and visit if you are looking for some impressive sights to see. Canterbury Cathedral is simply amazing. The town is based around the cathedral as well and is a typically English city. A river runs through the centre of the town which creates a lovely atmosphere. There are plenty of shops to go to visit and lots of nice eateries. Parking however is an issue in the city and it will take you a good while to find a spot. If you are considering the school i woul highly recommend it. Although i didnt go plenty of my friends did and they had a great time. The standard of the education received is very high as well. i would say that Canterbury is well worth a visit and if you are sruck with places to go to see then definately head to this picturesue city.
Ahhhh Canterbury..... is it really that lovely place that Woolfe would have us believe?!
Simply the answer is No, and I think I can say that because I live there, and I work there....
What is lovely about Canterbury?
Its quite quaint. There are some sweet little side lanes off the main high street, housing some smaller retailers and some independent shops and niche retailers.
Cobble lanes and old hanging signs are a throwback to the glory days, of Chaucer, of Dickens and of Olde England.
It is relatively clean in the high street and main roads serving it, there are refuse bins which are rarely ever half full, and there is also a periodic gum buster man clearing up the chewy mess of others.
Of course, there are some historical tourist attractions, the Cathedral (the hub of pretty much everything in Canterbury), the Canterbury Tales, St Augustines Abbey, The Greyfriars, and Canterbury Castle ruins to name but a few.
Whats not so lovely?
The sheer numbers of over zealous and intoxicated students, vommiting outside kebab shops.... and the inevitable job hunt that they go on, from about mid august up until end of october.
Now I think its great that they all want to support themselves and earn some extra cash whilst at uni, but what is highly irritating as an employer is that they want to work when its suits them, but yet want a month off at Christmas, at Easter and three months off for the summer!
Also not lovely is the grubby half baked attempt at a street market, which takes place twice a week. The high street isnt tiny, and admittedly the market doesnt run the entire length, its just the standard of the market.
Considering its a historical city and people enjoy the quaint atmosphere of Canterbury and then twice a week this atrocious, poor quality knock off Nigel market appears, selling nothing but poor quality goods, sad looking pleather bags, and some sweatshop creatings masquerading as "fair trade" wooden instruments.
Adding to the retail aspects, there is Whitefriars...
What can I say about Whitefriars!? Its atrocious, appaling and against everything that once was good about Canterbury!
Located at the top end of the high street, containing big name high street retailers, such as Next, Zara, H&M, Boots and River Island. With all those names, wheres my gripe I hear you ask? Well quite simply its the lay out of the place, the look and the ambience. It just lacks any definition, every shop is a grey block, with a flat glass front with its name on, take away the actual logo's and you wouldnt know which shop was which. There is no attempt to replicate or even give a nod of the hat to the historical ambience of the City.
Another not so lovely element is the tourists. now dont get me wrong, I love tourists, I love their general chatter, how everything is new and exciting for them, how they all want a photo of everything and most importantly I love the money they bring into the economy.
What I do not like is the sheer numbers, and their inability to understand the great British institution that is "The Queue".
British people queue, we create a line, and we wait for our turn, we dont bombard people from all sides with questions in broken english and expect the answer immediately.
My biggest bug bear is when you are trying to travel anywhere between Burgate, Sun Street, and the Cathedral Square. You take your life in your hands, and if thats not bad enough, they feed the pigeons!
After all that though, I dont plan on moving.... and I wouldnt work anywhere else, because Canterbury is significantly better than other places I've been to.
But what I really really hate is how Canterbury sees itself. The city is small fry compared to other great British cities, yet it seems to believe its the centre of the universe, that its two universities are second only to Ivy League colleges in the States (and even then secretly Canterbury still thinks its better), and then there is the Cathedral and the supporters of said Cathedral, yes it may be the cornerstone of the faith of many, but do we really have to be bombarded we the need to save the cathedral roof at every turn?! You have to pay an extortionate fee to visit (much more than any other!) yet they are still cant afford the upkeep!!!
Canterbury, you're a small fish in a big pond, and just accept it and move on....
In 1904, Virginia Woolf was quoted as saying, there is no lovelier place in the world than Canterbury
and I have seen Venice too.
Canterbury sits on the River Stour in an attractive corner of rural east Kent. It is a city steeped in history and there is no doubt that it is certainly a picturesque place the heart of Canterbury, inside the old city walls, is brimming with medieval and Tudor architecture, churches and pretty river scenes. The streets are narrow and a great many are pedestrianised; there is an abundance of individual, speciality shops, good cafes, restaurants, pubs, ice cream parlours and other eateries. (My personal favourite being the Sugarboy traditional sweetshop on Palace Street take a look at www.sugarboy.co.uk). There is a maze of intriguing side streets to explore. Canterbury city centre is small (it is only a city by virtue of its famous cathedral) and is essentially a walking city; you will get the most out of the place by wandering around on foot and just seeing what you can find. Even the modern buildings are elegant and sympathetic to their surroundings. In many ways it reminds me of York; the same atmosphere, the same charm, the same feeling of being in a historic town rather than just another cloned high street. In short Canterbury is visually stunning and fun to explore.
But is this enough to qualify it as the loveliest place in the world?
Well, on the plus side, the city is positively dripping with history; it is everywhere you turn. Canterbury is the home of the Anglican Church and as a result has one of the finest cathedrals in England. Kent is generally a rather flat county, so the cathedral spire dominates the skyline for miles around the city. There has been a cathedral on this site since the 6th century. The story goes that Pope Gregory the Great had seen Angle (English) slaves for sale in the markets of Rome and had been struck by their beauty, remarking that they were not Angles but Angels. Such a people, he was convinced, should be converted to Christianity and so he sent a party of monks to England. Their leader, Saint Augustine, became an Archbishop and established his seat (or cathedra) at Canterbury (the current incumbent, Dr Rowan Williams, is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury).
However, what the cathedral is best known for is the murder/martyrdom (delete as appropriate) of Thomas Becket in 1170. Becket was appointed Archbishop by his friend King Henry II, and appointed with the task of bringing the Church to heel under the monarchy; he did the reverse, arguing strongly for the rights of the Church and the supremacy of canon law above civil law (church over state). Im sure you all remember the line, will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?, although interestingly enough none of the contemporary documents actually record the King saying this. (Although he was noted as having a tantrum on Christmas Day 1170 and shouting what miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and promoted in my household, who let their lord be treated with such contempt by a low born priest, which pretty much amounts to the same sentiment). Four knights, seeking to ingratiate themselves with their King, took it upon themselves to persuade Becket of the monarchs point of view on this matter, ultimately attacking him with their swords in his own cathedral. A short time after, Becket was made a saint and his jewel-encrusted tomb stood for 368 years in the cathedral, becoming one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in the medieval world. Until Henry VIII had it desecrated as part of his dissolution programme, that is. Today, a single candle marks the spot where the tomb once was. I am not a religious person, but to me that somehow seems more appropriate.
Canterbury Cathedral is open from 9am Monday to Saturday (until 5pm in winter and 6.30pm in summer) and for a short while on Sunday afternoons between services. There are often restrictions and closures because of special events, so it is best to phone in advance if you intend to visit (01227 762 862) or visit the website (www.canterbury-cathedral.org). Entrance to the precincts costs £5 for adults, £4.50 for concessions. Guided tours are extra on top of this (£2.50 adults, £2 concessions) but I would recommend one to get the most for your visit (yes, I know that it makes it an expensive visit, but unless you are an expert in ecclesiastical architecture a little guide leaflet is really not going to help you much).
The city is also well known for its association to The Canterbury Tales, published by poet Geoffrey Chaucer in 1476 and acknowledged to be one of the most important texts in English literature. The Tales are a group of stories tied together by the premise that they are all told by a group of characters on pilgrimage from London to the aforementioned shrine of Saint Thomas at Canterbury Cathedral. It is thought that this was the first book to be published in England, making it a bestseller for over 600 years! The city naturally cashes in on this association shamelessly. You will find all manner of souvenirs and editions of the book thrust in your face if you spend time in Canterbury. There is even an entire experience devoted to re-telling the Tales if you want more, located in St Margarets Street but I will go into more detail about that in Act 2 of my Canterbury Reviews (forthcoming). Suffice to say it is open daily from 10am, and costs £6.95 for adults, £5.95 for students and £5.25 for children to get in (visit: www.canterburytales.org.uk).
And neither is Chaucer the citys only literary connection. The great Tudor playwright Christopher (Kit) Marlowe was born in the city, and is commemorated by both a statue and a theatre named after him (on The Friars); the remains of St Georges church, where he was baptised, also stands near Canterbury bus station. Only the clock tower of this church remains, however, as the rest of it was bombed in 1942 in one of the so-called Baedeker Raids, which were directed towards historic British cities (the targets were selected from a popular German guidebook called Baedeker). Born in the same year as a certain Shakespeare fellow, Marlowe went on to have an, erm, colourful life (poet, playwright, fiery homosexual, raging atheist) before dieing in mysterious circumstances at the age of only 29, shortly before he was due to stand trial for his atheist beliefs. (Unless, that is, you believe the conspiracy theory that he didnt die at all, but instead fled to Italy, where he continued to write, sending his plays home to be published under the name of a retired actor: one William Shakespeare). Kings School in Canterbury actually offers a considerable cash sum to anyone who can satisfy the world of Shakespearean scholarship that all the poems & plays now attributed to Shakespeare were written by Christopher Marlowe. Six figures, apparently. Now THERE is a review worth writing!
Of course, no historic city would be complete without a castle. However, I found Canterburys castle to be somewhat neglected and off the tourist trail while the rest of the city was brimming with tourists, I shared this site with just four other people, something I found rather odd considering what a pleasant location it was in (and the fact that it was just about the only thing in the city that was free). Admittedly, there is not a great deal left of the castle; a great deal of the original Norman keep was demolished by the Victorians (who took it upon themselves to remove the top floor before deciding it was just too difficult, time consuming and expensive to take down the rest and instead sold it off to a businessman who used it as a storeroom). What is left is presented through a series of interpretation panels, viewing platforms and walkways, with an abundance of benches to rest yourself on after all that reading. This was a short but pleasant visit and a welcome change from all the heaving crowds and high prices of the rest of city. It is located (surprise, surprise) on Castle Street and is open daily from 8am until dusk.
I have already hinted at the downsides to this city. Alas, any city as pretty and historic as this attracts hordes of tourists and I found the city centre to be absolutely overflowing (even though I visited in early May, supposedly before the peak tourist season gets underway). This was not bustling or thriving. It was claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and I really dread to think what it must be like in July and August. To make matters worse, Canterbury is a magnet for visiting school groups (not just from the UK either, I also noticed French, Dutch and German kids there) and as is often the case in school trips, many of the kids were loud, badly behaved and not remotely interested in what they were supposed to be doing. Im not trying to knock teachers or educational field visits here, Im just saying that I got a bit annoyed when I couldnt hear parts of my (expensive) guided tour because of shrieking teenagers. Mind you, the guide was complaining too, so it is not just me getting old!
The other major downside to this city was the sheer expense of everything. While those of you resident in the Home Counties probably wouldnt be bothered, living in Newcastle, I do tend to find prices expensive when I venture further south. I had a real shock here, though. Entrance prices were high to just about any attraction you could mention (bar the castle), and food and drink were also shockingly pricey (in some cases, double what I would pay for an identical item in Newcastle). I returned home feeling bled dry!
There we have it: Canterbury is a city of history, crowds, pilgrims and high prices. My tips for visiting the city are:
1. Accommodation is hard to find if you are after something in the under £80 a night bracket (no, seriously). There are only a couple of big hotels (the County Hotel on the High Street and a Holiday Inn motel a few mile outside of the city: one very expensive, the other inconvenient). This leaves accommodation down to the numerous small hotels and B&Bs that litter the city, each with typically only a few rooms. Be prepared to use Google to find as many options as you can and then spend an afternoon ringing round (I got a room in the 7th place I rang and I was trying about 6 weeks in advance of my trip). And do it as early as you can, too!
2. Visit the tourist information centre (opposite the entrance to the cathedral precincts) for a free Canterbury visitor guide and colour map (they are sold everywhere else). This has all the practical information you will need in it.
3. Forget the car. Canterbury is a walking city and your car will just be a nuisance, especially if you are staying in the city centre. The city is well served by trains, having two stations (the East station, with lines to Dover and London Victoria, and the West station, which serves Charing Cross).
4. If you are a museum person, you can buy a museum passport for Canterburys three museums (the city museum, Roman museum and art gallery), which works out cheaper than paying for the entrance individually at each one (see: www.canterbury-museums.co.uk for details).
5. If possible, try to avoid visiting during peak tourist times (unless you are the sort of masochist who looks forward to spending Bank Holidays in Ikea, that is).
So is Canterbury the loveliest place in the world? No. (And neither is Venice these days, either). But it is quite a good place to visit for a couple of days if you are into history. Go on then, three stars, and Ill recommend it.
For it's size (population 36,000), there's a lot to do in Canterbury. It only qualifies as a city by merit of it's cathedral but, partly due to the tourists and partly due to the high student population, there are plenty of fine pubs and restaurants to pass the time in. That's when you're not seeing the sights.
The city was severely damaged by bombing during WWII and parts, especially to the south of the cathedral, have been rebuilt insensitively. However, there's still plenty to see and the bustling centre is very atmospheric.
The first settlement on the site of Canterbury dates to the 1st century BC when there was a Celtic community on either side of the River Stour. It grew in importance under the Romans, and after they left, Angles and Saxons resettled the city. In 597AD, St Augustine founded a Benedictine monastery and abbey, and the city was established as the centre of the English church. It thrived, both under the Anglo-Saxons and later, the Normans.
In 1170 the personal and political conflict between Thomas Beckett and King Henry II reached a tragic conclusion when four of Henry's knights killed the archbishop in the cathedral. Within hours of the murder rumours of miracles spread and a few years after his death Becket was canonized. His shrine soon became a major site of pilgrimage in Europe and the city prospered.
In 1538, under Henry VIII, St Augustine's Abbey was demolished and St Thomas' shrine, remains and relics were totally destroyed.
The centre of Canterbury is enclosed by a medieval city wall and a modern ring road. The centre is easy to get around on foot, virtually impossible to get around by car.
The Canterbury Visitor Information Centre, St Margaret's St, is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm and is staffed by a group of amateur actors, it has
a bureau de change and a free booking service fo
r local hotels and b&b's. They have a vast amount of leaflets and maps etc.,
Guided walks start here at 2 pm daily from early April to October. The walks take 1.5 hours and explore the cathedral precincts, King's School and the town's medieval centre. The cost is £3.50.
[o] CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL is the global centre of the Anglican faith. The central Bell Harry tower is an imposing site and can be seen from anywhere in and around the city. As an example of a Gothic church, only Reims in France rivals Canterbury for its architecture and stained glass. There is a charge of £3.50 to enter the cathedral and grounds, but as the running costs of the cathedral are around £9000 per day, I suppose you can't really blame them.
Like most great cathedrals, Canterbury evolved in stages over many years and it reflects a number of architectural styles. Touring the complex, can easily take half a day or more.
The traditional approach to the cathedral is along narrow Mercery Lane, which used to be lined with small shops selling souvenirs to pilgrims. (Nothing changes much!)
St Augustine's original cathedral burnt down in 1067 and construction by the first Norman archbishop began in 1070. In 1174 most of the eastern half of the building was again destroyed by fire but the crypt survived.
Because it was such an important pilgrimage site, William of Sens created the first major Gothic construction in England. Most of the cathedral east of Bell Harry tower dates from this period.
In 1391 work began on the western half of the building. The new perpendicular style was used, and work continued for over 100 years. Since then, more has been subtracted than added, although the exterior has not changed significantly.
The Cathedral is truly magnificent and should not be missed. You will have to endure the crowds though, as it gets EXTREMELY busy.
[o] CANTERBURY TALES Visitor Attraction, in St Marg
#39;s Street, provides an entertaining introduction to Chaucer's classic tales. It is a combination of animatronics, lights, sounds and SMELLS. These are used in a series of rooms to recreate the right atmosphere whilst a multi-lingual audio guide relates a selection of tales from the book.
Admission is £6.50, quite steep for a 45 minute tour, but believe me this is money well spent. It is very well done and I would highly recommend it. This also gets very busy so expect to queue.
[o] Durovernum was the Roman name for Canterbury. Julius Caesar visited in the first century and these days no new building can take place without an extensive archeological dig being carried out first.
Tucked down Butchery Lane you'll find the excellent ROMAN MUSEUM. As well as the usual selection of pottery and jewellery, the museum houses some very well preserved mosaic floors. It's not Pompeii but it is pretty good. If you've got children they'll probably enjoy the hands-on section too.
[o] WESTGATE TOWERS is the best preserved gate through the old city walls and used to house a jail - and the museum that's there today includes a re-created cell. The museum is quite interesting but the main attraction is the view across the city that you can get from the battlements at the top of the tower. This attraction shuts between 12.30 and 1.30 for lunch, and doesn't open at all on Sundays.
[o] In the old Poor Priests' Hospital, Stour Street, you will find the CANTERBURY HERITAGE MUSEUM. The building has well-preserved medieval interiors and impressive oak roofs dating back over six centuries. Inside you'll find all you ever wanted to know about Canterbury's history, and children will love the Rupert the Bear gallery (his creator, Mary Tourtel, was a local).
It's probably worth pointing out that you can get a Museum Passport which will get you into the Roman Museum, Heritage Museum a
nd the Wes
tgate Towers Museum at a reduced rate - it's available at any of these three attractions.
[o] THE PIGRIM'S HOSPITAL of St Thomas is very easy to miss, despite the fact that it's in the middle of the High Street. It's a deceptively large Medieval building, built in the 12th Century and, as the name suggests, was used by pilgrims on their way to the Cathedral. It houses a small museum in the main hall, whilst the chapel and pilgrims' refectory are also open to the public.
[o] THE CANTERBURY ROYAL MUSEUM & ART GALLERY is also right in the middle of the High Street, above the library, in a very weird building called the Beaney Institute. Inside you'll find an art gallery and the Buff's Museum, which relates to a local military regiment. It's not very big but admission is free.
Parks & Ruins
If you've got a packed lunch and you're looking for somewhere to eat it there are a couple of choices. THE DANE JOHN GARDENS, is a carefully landscaped oasis in the heart of the city, and features a bandstand, an ornamental fountain and a little maze for the kids. There's also a war memorial on top of the Dane John mound; the view from the top of the mound towards the Cathedral makes for an excellent photograph and you can walk along what's left of the City walls too.
WESTGATE GARDENS is another park and the River Stour meanders through it - boat trips operate from here in the summer months. This park's beautifully manicured lawns and colourful flower beds make this an ideal location to spend an hour or two.
[o] CANTERBURY CASTLE, at the top of Castle Street, is a Norman castle in a pretty advanced state of ruin, so don't expect anythin
g too amazing. It is worth a visit though.
[o] ST. AUGUSTINE'S ABBEY, (behind Christ Church College) is largely ruined but still worth seeing. Where else are you
going to see t
he remains of a 1400-year old chapel? There's also a little museum covering the history of the abbey and audio-guides are available.
Palace Street is full of varied architecture and numerous listed buildings. Subsidence has led to the front of some of the buildings leaning over at unbelievable angles. There are quite a few antique shops down this way.
Most cafes, bars and restaurants are situated on High Street and the immediate vicinity - as is the shopping.
For more information:
EATING and DRINKING:
IMAGES and TOUR:
Thanks for reading
Should Canterbury even be allowed to be entered for European City of Culture? It will be a laughing stock - how could the culture of Canterbury even compare to that of other major cities. There's one pitiful theatre, not even a proper cinema - I suppose an arthouse cinema could count as culture - if you dredge under the surface I'm sure someone might claim an art gallery or something somewhere or other but none of this is exactly renowned - I'm sure the application will just get laughed out!! Cnaterbury isn't the worst place in the world but calling it particurly cultured is a joke!
Canterbury. Centre of the Church of England. Home to Christopher Marlowe. Birthplace of Rupert the Bear. It’s even got its own book by our old mate Mr Geoffrey Chaucer. At a glance, Canterbury appears as a vibrant city, brimming with culture and looking forward to a prosperous future. The realities of living in such a city can often be different however. In this Op I’ll take you on a whistle stop tour of the city which I hope you may find useful, either if you are thinking of moving here or if you are planning a day out in the ‘heart of Kent’ LOCATION Canterbury is found in East Kent, 20 miles Dover and the same distance from Ashford International Station, thus making it a gateway to the continent. The number of European students found residing at the city’s two universities and the hoardes of French school children caught setting off stink bombs in the town centre are indicative of the City’s commitment forging closer links with our European neighbours. TOURISM The local economy is driven by tourism, both in Canterbury itself, and the nearby seaside towns of Whitstable and Herne Bay which come under the banner of the Canterbury district. The Cathedral, which dates from the 9th century, is the main focus for all tourism in the area. At £3.50 per head it also one of the most over priced tourist attractions in the country. Yes, it is spectacular, but it is also very much the same as other UK Cathedrals which don’t charge nearly as much except this ones a bit bigger. 5 Star for architecture, 2 Star for value. Other attractions at Canterbury include, The Canterbury Tales, which is a journey through the stories from Chaucers bawdy tale told by some of Britain’s leading actors. It’s one of those smells and all type affairs, reminding you what 12th century horse dung smells like. Lovely. Group rates for this are ok, but if you are an individual, be ready to get stung for about £6.00
for the pleasure. Only about 2 and a half stars for this one. Other than that there is St Augustines Abbey (well, the remains of it) and the Roman museum (more remains). As you can see, in terms of top quality attractions, Canterbury is seriously lacking. TRANSPORT Traffic is horrendous here as all the roads where built for carts, and are only five feet wide. Bus services are constantly late and unreliable due to this. There are two train stations, Canterbury East & West. One travels London to Ramsgate slowly, and the other London to Dover - you guessed it slowly. Don't think you're going anywhere fast! SHOPPING Canterbury has a vibrant town centre which is currently under redevelopment. It has most big high street names and is due to have a new Fenwick store open in spring of 2003. The best shops, as in most towns however, are the small back street outlets run by independent retailers. Highlights here include Siesta (found on the corner of Sun Street) which is a kind of new age affair selling everything you’ll ever need to make your home look Peruvian, Serendipity (Burgate) which sells hand crafted childrens toys and the Winnie the Pooh shop (Sun Street) which is self explanatory. Unfortunately, due to the high rent which is charged by the cathedral (which owns 90% of the property in the town centre) for shops, smaller shops are on the decrease in Canterbury. This is a real shame, as it is one of the things that make the city interesting to visit. FOOD & DRINK This is Canterbury’s biggest strength. As it is a student town, the city centre is flooded with over 50 pubs of varying themes. There are two JD Wetherspoons pubs and a large number of houses run by Shepherd Neame, which is Kent’s major brewer, based in nearby Faversham. The city is also host to the Kent beer festival each summer, where many real ales can be supped and enjoyed. Restaurants wise, there is
eveything you could ever wish for. The best of each are as follows. Raj Venue (Indian – St Dunstans), Little Italy (Italian – St Peters Street), Café du China (Chinese-New Dover Road), Chapouyara River (Thai-Old Dover Road) Café des Amis (Mexican – St Dunstans). There are loads more to choose from, and if you try a few out, you are bound to find somewhere to your taste. NIGHTLIFE Hardly worth commenting on, as it’s pretty much close to zero. Three clubs. Ba-Ba’s – mostly filled with 16 year olds, a sports bar type affair. The Time Tunnel – Retro club run on Friday nights. Smelly and very, very rough. Chicago Rock Café, previously TGI Churchills - Cheesy Americano wine bar with a dance floor. Go to Maidstone, you’ll have a better time. Students at the Univeristy have their own venue, which originally is called ‘The Venue’. Non Kent Students must be signed in as guests however, and it’s really not worth all the hassle of trying to get in. CULTURE Teeny weeny cinema, with two screens which has recently been refurbished by Odeon, but it is still cramped and over priced at £5.50 per head. An alternative for film go-ers is Cinema 3, which operates most nights of the week showing alternative films and modern classics. It also has themed seasons and events that feature filmakers themselves doing talks, workshops etc. There are two theatres in the city. The Gulbenkian sited on the University campus deals mostly in amateur dramatics or high art productions and the Marlowe Theatre which is much bigger and is used for Stand up Comedy and large musical productions. The annual Pantomime is the largest production of the year, and has received many accolades. There is precious little sign of a live music scene here at all, any gigs that do happen are either solo accoustic acts or Jazz bands played in back street pubs. Canterbury is bidding to be the European city o
f culture in 2004, but with no art galleries, no music scene and the recent demise of the local football team it seems that this is unlikely. N.B The only local sport with any interest is Cricket – Canterbury is the home of Kent County Cricket Club. PEOPLE Seen ‘Keeping Up Appearances’? Well, welcome to Canterbury. There is an ageing population here, which is reflected in the lack of nightlife and iron fist rule of the cathedral over local issues. The long standing MP is a very Right Wing conservative who recently featured in a controversial debate at the University on why homosexuality is a corrupting influence on the young. It’s that sort of place. Students and foreigners are frowned upon generally, which is strange considering that between them, they make up the backbone of the city’s modern economy. Canterbury residents view themselves very highly and are often quite rude. Whether this is likely to change in the future with the influx of more European cultures remains to be seen. IN CONCLUSION I came here as a student, and have subsequently lived in or around the city for about seven years. If you want to retire and you like that oldy woldy feel, then this is the place for you. If you want fun and action, don’t even consider it. It’s beautiful in the summer, the most depressing place I’ve ever experienced during the winter. Without commenting on the religion aspect it is hard to comes to terms with the fact that a city which has such a wonderful building as the cathedral at its epicentre can be so joyless. Do not let my negativity keep you away though. Come to Canterbury on a summer’s afternoon, take some pictures of it and then have a nice meal. But whatever you do, don’t get stuck here, you’ll be wearing tweed before you know it.
No visit to Kent is complete without a visit to the city of Canterbury. Virginia Woolf once said that "There is no lovelier place in the world than Canterbury...” (1904), and whilst this is probably a little exaggerated, Canterbury is certainly a fantastic place to visit – there is so much to see and do here that you are going to need longer than a day to fit it all in. Canterbury began its life as a Roman town, named Duovernum, and it is still possible, even today, to discover traces of the Roman past. Time Team have carried out several digs here, one of which focused especially on the Roman period, and there is a museum, to be found in Butchery Lane, where you can go underground and see the original Roman mosaics and walls to be found underneath the modern city. It is amazing how this has survived – you would never believe that under the high street shops lies so much history. This museum is one of many in Canterbury, and it’s possible to buy a ticket allowing you entry to several of them - which is inexpensive, only around £3 for students. There are recreations of Roman life here, and touchscreens and other activities to amuse children too. An audiovisual display will help you understand how Roman Canterbury developed and grew, and explains some of the special features of Roman houses – e.g. the heating systems. After Augustine came to Canterbury, in the 6th century, the town assumed a great religious importance, and was in competition with York for religious primacy. It was after the murder of Thomas Becket in the Cathedral however (C12th) that tourists first began to flock to Canterbury, and the city really began to develop substantially. Killed by four knights, after a stubborn, and ongoing, dispute with Henry II, Becket’s murder shocked the whole of Europe, and pilgrims came from far and wide, with miracles being reported on a daily basis. Canterbury, then as now, cashed in on this early form of tou
rist industry, selling phials of the martyr’s blood, and widely disseminating the reports of miracles, to encourage visitors. Today, it is still possible to retrace the steps of the medieval pilgrims and go and visit the cathedral, and the spot where Becket was murdered, although you may find this a slight disappointment, since there is only a plain slab marking the spot where the horrific murder was executed. Becket’s shrine was of course moved into the main body of the cathedral, where it would be more easily visible. Canterbury Cathedral is a stunning building, from both the outside and the inside, and even if you’re not religious, then you can’t fail to be impressed by the architecture. Inside you will find some interesting tombs, including an effigy of the black prince. There are also lists of all the previous archbishops of Canterbury, and if you’re anything like me, and have studied any history where they have been involved, then you will have a field day, as there is so much to discover in here. It is very calm and peaceful inside the cathedral, especially if you go down to the crypt, which is quite cold, and gloomy. My little sister managed to shatter the peace however when she was small, and started singing at the top of her voice! Back on ground level though, whilst it may still be a bit chilly, it’s certainly not gloomy, with stained glass windows providing a fantastic contrast to the dark interior. These are really well worth a look. Little chapels off the main body of the Cathedral are also of interest. It’s possible to buy guide books to fill you in on the history of the Cathedral, and there are guides dotted about the cathedral in case you have any questions. Unfortunately there is a charge to go into the Cathedral if you are a tourist, but, if like me, you’re a local, then you can get in for free if you apply for a special permit through your vicar. Otherwise, it costs a c
ouple of pounds, which goes towards the enormous upkeep costs. At certain times of the day, parts may be closed off for services, and on the 29th of December each year, there is a memorial service for Thomas Becket. If you’re in the area at Christmas time, then I highly recommend the carol service by candlelight, there is a great atmosphere. If medieval history interests you, then the Canterbury Tales visitor centre, in St Margaret’s Street, is billed as Kent’s premier visitor attraction, a title which it certainly deserves. Here, through models, sound and audiovisual displays, (similar to the Jorvik centre), you too can be transported back into medieval Canterbury, listening to the tales of Chaucer’s pilgrims who were on their way to Becket’s tomb. I won’t go into any more detail about this, since I’ve already done a fairly lengthy and detailed op about this attraction. Following on from the pilgrim theme, which does seem to dominate Canterbury, you can visit the pilgrim’s hospital, in the high street, which offered hospitality to the pilgrims, and provided board and lodging. Some of it today has been converted into private housing. It’s only 80p to visit, and there’s not much to see, but it’s worth having a look, if only to get a better picture of what life as a pilgrim would have been like. There are boards with information on too, and it’s certainly cheaper than buying the cathedral guidebook. The staff in here are also really friendly and able to answer any questions you may have about medieval Canterbury. Moving into the Tudor period, St Dunstan’s church, just by the West station, is supposedly where the head of Thomas More resides. After having spent last year studying More, this was somewhere I was keen to visit! I don’t think it would appeal to the average tourist, but if you’re stuck for something to do, then it’s free, and there
217;s an interesting display about More, and a special tapestry, and stained glass window dedicated to him. It's also somewhere you can escape from all the foreign tourists. Other museums of interest include the general town museum, the Canterbury Heritage Museum, which traces the history of Canterbury from the earliest times until the present day, with a mixture of information, recreations, and archaeological findings. If all this medieval history is a bit too early for you, then here you’ll also find an interest film about Canterbury’s experiences during the second world war. This museum is clearly laid out and presented, and you can walk round at your own pace, spending as much time as you want in each time period. There’s also an exhibition about Rupert Bear in here too for some reason I have yet to fathom! I remember coming here on a school trip when I was in 1st year, and it’s an ideal place to visit for an introduction to the town, and is aimed at all levels and ages, with quiz sheets for younger children. Now how would you like to see the city? I can think of 3 main ways. Firstly, there is the chance to climb up the Westgate tower, which gives you superb panoramic views over the city, enabling you to see how the medieval buildings and narrow lanes all lead up to the cathedral which towers above everything else. Looking down on all the old-fashioned rooftops is fantastic, unless of course you have a fear of heights, in which case, I’ll suggest another way to explore Canterbury, this time, through a boat trip. Fairly small rowing boats, which hold about 6 people, take you along the river Stour and give you views of the buildings which line its bank. The boatman will also give you a commentary, providing some useful information about the area, and its history, particularly about the different monastic orders to be found. Or, you could choose to take a guided walking tour round the town, which is som
ething I have never done – I consider myself too local to need this, but I am sure there is probably quite a lot that I would learn from one! Information on these is available from the Tourist Information office. There are loads of eating and drinking establishments in the town – something to suit all pockets! Tacky places such as MacDonalds sit incongruously amongst the converted medieval buildings, which give rise to a whole host of restaurants and coffee shops, with low beamed ceilings. Many of these can be quite dark inside, due to the style of architecture, but the more traditional places (as opposed to the American fast food crap) usually offer a good range and variety of meals which will appeal to both tourists and locals alike. However – here’s a warning, if you find somewhere that you like, make the most of it, as chances are it will be gone on your next visit! One long established place, great in the summer, is Morellis, which does an extensive range of ice cream. It’s very popular with the hordes of foreign tourists you’ll find swarming along the streets, so be prepared to queue. Tourists unfortunately come to Canterbury in such high numbers, particularly in the summer, which of course is good for the town, since they bring in so much revenue, but not too great if you just want a peaceful wander round, or a shop. In the summer it is more likely you’ll hear foreign languages being spoken around you than English, particularly now it is so easy for the French to travel here. Personally I prefer Canterbury in the winter months, and it’s nice to find a cosy coffee shop to sit in when it’s freezing outside. Shopping here is quite good – along with the usual collection of tourist-y shops, selling souvenirs and guidebooks to the city in several different languages, you’ll find all the main high street names – M&S, BHS, River Island, Warehouse, Laura Ashley, Next
etc. What I like best however are the department stores. If you come to Canterbury for the first time, you’ll probably think Debenhams own about half the town, since they seem to spread out an awful long way! In addition to Debenhams, there are also Ricemans, and Nasons. If you’re looking for ball dresses then Ricemans is a great place to look. There are also good independent stores here, local card shops, sweet shops, craft shops, and second hand book shops. Basically there is a great variety and something to appeal to most people, whether they are tourists or locals. There is a shopping centre, but all it seems to do is connect a couple of shops together (M&S, BHS and Ricemans) and you’ll find most of the shops in the main part of the town, often a modern shop will be housed in a medieval building which is interesting. Luckily in many cases the character of the old building has been preserved, without the bright glass fronts many of these shops have elsewhere. This does mean that some of the shops have a bit of a jumbled appearance inside - with twisty passages between the various sections and unusual layouts, due to the positioning of the walls. Hopefully after reading this op, you’ll want to visit Canterbury. Public transport links are good (when everything’s running smoothly – remember the train operators are Connex!) – there are trains direct from London, with a journey time of about one and a half hours, and also trains up from the coast, and from the new international terminal at Ashford. The West station however is not the most pleasant of places – many is the time I have seen a rat scurrying about on the platform, and the underpass always smells of stale urine (hold your nose and run!). For such an important city, I do think the station could do with a makeover! Buses too serve the surrounding towns and villages, and there is also a useful park and ride scheme – advisable, since parking can be
problematic here as in many towns and cities. Overall then, I would strongly recommend Canterbury. Even if you just want a good day out shopping then it’s so much more pleasant to shop in an environment like this than in one of the completely indoor shopping centres. It’s nice to get some history while shopping! If you’re here on holiday, then there are a variety of museums to keep you occupied, or to save money, you can simply walk round to get a flavour of the city and see buildings from different historical eras. Summer time might be your first choice of time to visit, but remember it can get very crowded then, so it might be better to save your trip until the winter, especially as there are many inside activities. Walk through Canterbury and walk back in time!
Canterbury,home of the mother Church of England,is a city I know very well since my father was born at Ashford,which is only 14 miles away.It is a surprisingly small city, but during the summer months is full of tourists,especially from France, Germany, Holland and North America. There is quite a lot to see and do in this city. Pride of place has to go to the Cathedral,which is quite a large and beautiful building. The Canterbury Tales exhibition is worth a visit and some of the medieval structures in the city are very attractive. The Weavers House is a gem and a climb up Westgate Towers is worthwhile-you get a nice panoramic view over this historic city.The modern architecture,however, is,in my view,often not very inspired. Shopping wise Canterbury is surprisingly good. Besides housing several large department stores,including Ricemans and Debenhams,there are a wide range of specialist shops,including a number of good book shops.The student population is quite large here since there is the University of Kent, Christ Church College and the well known public school,Kings' School in the Kentish town. At night time Canterbury is,in my opinion, rather dull,although there are a few interesting pubs and a number of good eateries.However,prices of meals seem to be a bit inflated ,no doubt the large volume of tourists may partially account for that. During summer months the narrow streets of this historic city are chocker-block with visitors-at such times I cant help feeling that Canterbury is a bit too touristy for my liking !
Canterbury is a city in Kent and a heaven for skating if you're into sport. YOu can skate at skaters square, the Marlowe theater, castle street car pack and Kingsmead school. The canterbury college is also a good place to skate. Beware though, there are loads of security guards aroubng and you will probably only get to skate these places for a maximum of ten minutes before you get kicked off so make those tricks count. There are also a few skate shops in the town such a Captains Cabin, Nation and Third Eye. Have fun!!!
As a student in Canterbury, you stride through the swarms of tourists and tut at them getting in your way as you race down the Highstreet to grab something from a shop. Or else glare at them in a hungover haze, hating their exuberance. All in all though, that's what's nice about Ctbry. It is a student town, AND a toursit town. Both benefit. Students benefit from the tourists in that the town is booming and hence great services, and the tourists benefit from the students by the large amount of pubs and shops for young people. Canterbury is great for a day trip, or even a weekend. One day spent shopping and touristing (the Cathedral is spectacular, and then there's the Westgate Museum, and just wandering around the town learning how it works, enjoying the cobbled streets, the ancient buildings, the nice gardens), and then one day visiting the pubs!! If you're looking for somewhere quiet to sit have a drink, have a cheap meal, try the Wetherspoons. There's two, one by the Westgate (on the other side from the Highstreet), and then one up behind Woolworths and to your right. There's no music, and during the day it is full of families. At night students do come in, but tend to behave as Wetherspoons is a quiet discussion pub. Simple Simons (ask for directions, it's in the back streets) is an ancient pub, nice and dark, and should be visited at least once. At night the 'older' crowd tend to frequent it, but as with everywhere of an evening in Canterbury, there are students, or young people. (Not sooo much the case in summer, but there are usually some hanging about). The Three Tuns (from the High Street turn between Lloyds and Next and keep walking) is a nice old pub as well. Bigger and brighter than Simple Simons, with a younger staff and music. Usually quite empty on the afternoons, great place to sit and read a book with friends. Oranges on the High Street serve great cocktails and jugs (note: very cramped).
O'Neils the Irish pub is hidden in the back streets, but it's large and spacious, and has the typical Irish pub feel. Caseys is hidden in the side streets near the cathedral, another Irish pub, but more narrow and cramped. Still, a good atmosphere when not too packed. Then there's Clearys (near the 3 Tuns), another Irish pub, also good. Anyway, just browse around and you'll find the place for you. Quiet, or bustling, there's always a place to go.