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Canterbury Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Canterbury

There are multiple sites in Canterbury that are related to British Medieval history and earlier. Its buildings, churches, towers, gardens and gates are located on the streets with provincial charm, along the old city walls. Take this self guided tour to enjoy a day out in Canterbury and visit some of the most significant historic objects in England, particularly the world famous Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church that comprise the Canterbury World Heritage Site.
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Canterbury Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Canterbury Introduction Walk
Guide Location: England » Canterbury (See other walking tours in Canterbury)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: Sandra
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Canterbury Cathedral
  • Old Palace
  • The Old Buttermarket
  • St. Thomas’ Catholic Church
  • St. Augustine's Abbey
  • St Martin's Church
  • St. George's Clocktower
  • Dane John Gardens
  • Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens
  • Eastbridge Hospital
  • Old Weavers House
  • Westgate Tower
  • Tower House and the Westgate Gardens
Canterbury Cathedral

1) Canterbury Cathedral (must see)

The cathedral precinct comprised the core of the Medieval town of Canterbury. It’s one of England's largest cathedrals and the centre of the Church of England. It was founded in 600 AD by St. Augustine, dedicated to Christ the Saviour, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The original structures were burnt down. The present cathedral core was built in 1174. There have been many alterations in the cathedral structure for the past 900 years, but the choir music and some of the windows and their stained glass date from the 12th century.

The Cathedral exterior immediately impresses by its size. Its structure has a Latin-cross plan and Romanesque and Gothic features for the exterior/interior. There are invaluable treasures like Norman crypt, with intriguing carvings atop the columns, murals of the 12th century, the site of Archbishop Beckett that attracted thousands of pilgrims, the 'Bell Harry' Tower and many more. It provides local state and national services and events.

Why You Should Visit:

Canterbury Castle is one of the three World Heritage sites in Canterbury and arguably the most famous one. The other two are St Augustine's Abbey and St. Martin's Church.
Old Palace

2) Old Palace

The Old Palace belongs to the precincts of the Canterbury Cathedral. It dates from the 11th century. The palace served as residence for many archbishops and it still remains. The building once housed The Parliament, since 1647, during the English Civil War. Then it got the previous status of the Bishop’s Palace and was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century. Archbishop's Palace underwent many alterations and adjustments in the course of time. It was reopened again in 2006 after a two-year process of much needed refurbishment.
The Old Buttermarket

3) The Old Buttermarket

This large pub is situated on Buttermarket Square, which is over 800 years old. It is a very busy place, close to the main entrance of the Cathedral. The Old Buttermarket is a traditional British pub with a modern feel, in a house built upon Roman remains. There are plenty of outdoor tables and indoor seats. They provide an impressive choice of real ales on tap and malt whiskeys, as well as a fine selection of red and white wines. They serve high quality pub food. One of their specials is the Old Buttermarket Steak Pie, that is always a popular choice.

Opening hours: Monday- Wednesday, Sunday 10:00 - 22:30; Thursday 10:00-23:00; Friday, Saturday 10:00-24:00.
St. Thomas’ Catholic Church

4) St. Thomas’ Catholic Church

St. Thomas’ Roman Catholic Church is situated close to Canterbury Cathedral on Burgate Street. It was completed and consecrated in 1875 by Cardinal Manning. The church architecture can be referred to as Neo-Gothic style. Its facades clad in Kentish rag and Bath stone are decorated with the images of St. Thomas and two angels on each side set in the niches. On a wall on the bell tower there is a massive relief representing the significant event of St. Thomas’ Church. The church is visited by a large number of people due to the beauty of its interior and the altars.
St. Augustine's Abbey

5) St. Augustine's Abbey (must see)

St. Augustine found a monastery outside the town walls to the east of Canterbury in about 598 AD. Its building marked a significant restoration of Christianity to the south of England. It is one of the oldest monastic sites in the country. Originally it was used as a graveyard for the kings of Kent and archbishops of Canterbury. In 978 a new, great building was erected. It was devoted to Saints Peter, Paul and Augustine.

There were three Saxon churches on the site until the beginning of the 12th century. One of them survived, and two others were turned into a massive Romanesque edifice after the Norman Conquest. In 1390, the gatehouse known as Fyndon Gate was constructed; it has survived. Part of the abbey was converted into a royal palace by Henry VIII in 1538. Today St. Augustine's Abbey is owned by English Heritage. Visitors are offered an audio and sightseeing tour around the ruins. There is also a museum that exposes artifacts found on the site.
St Martin's Church

6) St Martin's Church (must see)

The Church of St Martin in Canterbury is England's oldest parish church in continuous use. It is one of the three World Heritage sites in Canterbury along with Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine's Abbey.

Since 1668 St Martin's has been part of the benefice of St Martin & St Paul Canterbury. Both St Martin's and nearby St Paul's churches are used for weekly services. St Martin's was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome.

Shortly before 1844, a hoard of gold coins was found in the churchyard, one of which is the Liudhard medalet, which bears an image of a diademed figure with a legend referring to Liudhard. Local finds prove that Christianity did exist in this area of the city at the time, and the church contains many reused Roman bricks or spolia, as well as complete sections of walls of Roman tiles. Several sections of walls are clearly very early, and it is possible that a blocked square-headed doorway in the chancel was the entrance to Bertha's church, while other sections of wall come from the period after the Gregorian mission in the 7th or 8th centuries, including most of the nave.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. George's Clocktower

7) St. George's Clocktower

The tower of St. George's church is situated on St. George’s Street inside the old town walls. It was the bell tower of the large and antique church of St. George the Martyr. The name of St. George refers to the construction of the church in the late 7th Century. So it could have been the very first church in this location. It also has remains of Norman work in the lower part of the tower and the west door. The destruction of St. George's occurred in June of 1942 during bombing raids. The demolitions were leveled and the clock was restored in the 1950s.
Dane John Gardens

8) Dane John Gardens (must see)

This is a historic park on the inside of the city's walls on the southwestern side of Canterbury. It was founded in 1551. In 1790, the park was laid out into formal gardens. In 1999, renovation of the Dane John Gardens was completed. These award-winning gardens have lawns, flower borders, many mature trees, bandstands, a playground with a small fortress, an alley of lime trees and a prominent fountain.

It also houses the dome-shaped mound, about 80 feet high, dating back to pre-Norman times. There is a memorial of Alderman Simmons, who was the designer of the gardens' landscape. Visitors climb the spiral footpath that leads to the top of this mound to observe the city's skyline. In the summer, many city events take place here.
Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens

9) Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens (must see)

Franciscan Friary was founded on this site in the west part of the town, on the branch of the River Stour in the middle of the 13th century. Monks built their conventual houses here. The only house that survived, named Greyfriars Chapel, represents the remains of these buildings of Minorite Friars, the first English Franciscan Friary.

The river flows under this house. Picturesque ruins of court yard walls are found near the chapel. Visitors can attend the exhibition on the lower floor to learn more about the history of the friary. Today the chapel is the place of worship of Anglican Franciscans. The services are held on the upper floor. There is a foot-walk signposted entrance past the little bridge from the west side of Stour Street. The tiny peaceful garden area is surrounded by old brick walls.
Eastbridge Hospital

10) Eastbridge Hospital

Eastbridge Hospital established its foundation in the last decade of the 12th century. The establishment was patronized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This old stone building stands on the busy High Street beside the River Stour. It was a place of hospitality that served as a shelter and support for pilgrims, infirm persons, the poor and homeless, local associations and scholars. Today the hospital is a centre of tourist interest and also home for elderly people of limited means. There is a Norman arch above the entrance, a tiny chapel with an amazing roof and beamed ceiling, a Norman vault open to the public and a remarkable Medieval mural on the underground floor.
Old Weavers House

11) Old Weavers House (must see)

Dating from at least the 14th century and reconstructed in the 16th, this must be one of the most photographed historic buildings in Canterbury and one of the top riverside pubs in Kent. Having survived the WWII German bombing campaigns, its timber-framed front can be easily spotted on St. Peter's street, with an even longer front running along the River Stour.

The Old Weavers House takes its name from the hundreds of Huguenots and Walloons who settled in the area after fleeing religious persecution in the 16th/17th centuries in France and the Low Countries. Many had expertise as weavers, and therefore started their trade, requiring well-lit work rooms, in local buildings. Despite having no true 'weavers' windows' that can be seen elsewhere in Canterbury, this building housed a weaving school into the early 1900s.

At the rear is a medieval 'ducking stool' that historically served to punish not only scolds (women accused by their husbands of talking back too much!), but also suspected witches, by dunking them into the water. Rather than simply being fixed by the water, however, the stool could be mounted on wheels to allow the convict to be paraded through the streets before punishment was carried out.

For the ultimate riverside experience, the Old Weavers Restaurant has a riverside terrace bursting with plants and flowers to create a restful oasis at the water's edge. Not only that, but diners can also enjoy a 40-minute river tour in one of the punting company owned boats, prior to or followed by a one-course-meal of their choosing.

Mon-Sat: 9am–12am; Sun: 12pm–11:30pm
Westgate Tower

12) Westgate Tower

Westgate Tower, close to the Canterbury Cathedral, beside the river, served as a Medieval fortified gatehouse when pilgrims flocked through it on the way to Thomas A. Beckett's tomb. This 20-meter high gate of Kentish ragstone is the largest remaining gate of Canterbury's seven Medieval gates. The present towers, more than six centuries old, replaced the Roman ones and house the hundred-year-old museum.

You can find the Guard Chamber, Murder Holes, hands-on Armour Display and City Walls Display up a narrow winding staircase. It is an absorbing collection on the history of the town. Visitors are allowed to climb to the roof for superb panoramic views of Canterbury.
Tower House and the Westgate Gardens

13) Tower House and the Westgate Gardens (must see)

The present Tower House is an early Victorian structure, supposedly built in the middle of the 19th cent., but the exact date is uncertain. It sits at the south end of the Westgate Gardens, a splendid small area along the banks of the River Stour starting at the city’s West Gate. This castle-like house was the residence of Catherine Williamson, Canterbury’s first female mayor. After her death, the house and the 11 acres of surrounding gardens were donated to the city. Today it is the Mayor's administrative headquarters.

The gardens are an ideal place for a gentle stroll along the river banks and they contain many archaeological remains like vestiges of a Roman wall. It features colourful planting, flower beds, neatly trimmed lawns and a curious oriental plane tree with an enormous trunk said to be one of the largest in Britain. There is a superb old Medieval archway that probably led to St. Augustine's Abbey in the 19th century.

Walking Tours in Canterbury, England

Create Your Own Walk in Canterbury

Create Your Own Walk in Canterbury

Creating your own self-guided walk in Canterbury is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Canterbury's Museums and Art Galleries

Canterbury's Museums and Art Galleries

Canterbury offers a brilliant choice of museums. It is situated on the site of the Durovernum Cantiacorum, Roman Britain's most important centers. The city's museums feature lots of interactive exhibits and are excellent attractions for families with children. Canterbury has a number of galleries and hosts the annual Canterbury Festival. Explore the most alluring museums and fine art...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
Canterbury Cathedral and Grounds

Canterbury Cathedral and Grounds

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest regional Christian churches that played a major role in English Christianity. The Cathedral stands within its own walled area, surrounded by Medieval buildings and ruins. This walking tour offers sightseeing and visits to all historically significant, magnificent structures within the precinct. It’s an amazing trip back to the Middle Ages.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles