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Canterbury Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Canterbury

There are a lot of 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 tour to enjoy a day out in Canterbury and visit the most significant historic objects in England, particularly the world famous St. Augustine's Abbey, St Martin's Church and Canterbury Castle 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: 15
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: Sandra
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Canterbury Cathedral
  • The Old Buttermarket
  • St. Thomas’ Catholic Church
  • St. Augustine's Abbey
  • St Martin's Church
  • St. George's Clocktower
  • Dane John Gardens
  • Canterbury Tales
  • Canterbury Castle
  • Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens
  • Beaney Institute building
  • Eastbridge Hospital
  • St. Peter’s Church
  • West Gate
  • 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.
The Old Buttermarket

2) 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

3) St. Thomas’ Catholic Church (must see)

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

4) 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

5) St Martin's Church (must see)

The Church of St Martin in Canterbury is England's oldest parish church in continuous use. 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.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. George's Clocktower

6) St. George's Clocktower (must see)

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

7) 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.
Canterbury Tales

8) Canterbury Tales (must see)

The Canterbury Tales attraction is housed in the historic building of St. Margaret’s Church. It is situated on St. Margaret’s Street, several blocks southwest of Canterbury Cathedral. Kent’s most mentioned attraction has stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer of the 14th century. It’s a reconstruction of Medieval England. Visitors perceive the sights, sounds and smells of a Medieval environment. All the scenes and characters are very colourful, accurate and interesting. The Canterbury Tales museum provides the exciting audio introduction to the mysterious city and its literary characters and guides. This stunning trip over 500 years back is attractive for kids and adults. The museum is open daily; visiting hours vary from about 10.00am - 5.00pm depending on the month.
Canterbury Castle

9) Canterbury Castle (must see)

Canterbury Castle is a Norman Castle in Canterbury. It was one of the three original Royal castles of Kent (the other two being Rochester Castle and Dover Castle). They were all built soon after the Battle of Hastings, on the main Roman road from Dover to London. This was the route taken by William the Conqueror in October 1066, and they were built originally as motte-and-bailey castles to guard this important route. A wooden motte and bailey castle was erected in 1066 - its motte may be the mound which is still visible in the Dane John gardens near the stone castle, with Dane John deriving from donjon.

The great stone keep was largely constructed in the reign of Henry I as one of three Royal castles in Kent. This massive structure, which has dimensions of about 98 by 85 feet externally at the base, was originally probably at least 80 feet high. It is mainly made of flint and sandstone rubble. By the 13th century the castle had become the county gaol. It was given up to the invading French in the First Barons' War. In 1380 a new gate was built. By the 19th century it had been obtained by a gas company and used as a storage centre for gas for many years, during which time the top floor was destroyed.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens

10) 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.
Beaney Institute building

11) Beaney Institute building (must see)

The Beaney Institute building on High Street was completed in 1897. It was planned by architect and land surveyor A.H. Campbell. The building exterior features the highly ornate facade with the half-timbered upper level. This admirable historic Victorian building was founded by Dr. James Beanery, an eminent Canterbury physician. It housed the Canterbury Museum and Public Library, established in the middle of the 19th century. The Slater family donated money for building an annex at the rear of the building in the 1930s. The building is home to the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury’s central cultural establishment. Today the museum is closed for vast refurbishment work, and is expected to reopen in 2012. It is in the plans to double the building’s area, producing more and better space for museum and library services.
Eastbridge Hospital

12) Eastbridge Hospital (must see)

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.
St. Peter’s Church

13) St. Peter’s Church (must see)

St Peter’s is located on eponymous street and half hidden behind the houses. The church is Medieval, but it stands on the remains of the original Roman church. Its tower incorporates fragments of Roman tile, and quoin cornerstones and ancient bells. The church was believed to be a place of prayer and worship for about 900 years. It is known as a church where a 'Mayor-Making' ceremony for Henry VI took place in the middle of the 15th century; mayoral race attributes are seen inside the building, as well as a brass that mentions the Hugenots and Walloons, Flemish weavers. The interior of St. Peter’s contains many religious implements and structural elements referring to the period of the 12th to 14th century.
West Gate

14) West Gate (must see)

West Gate, 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

15) 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 Cathedral and Grounds

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Canterbury's Museums and Art Galleries

Canterbury's Museums and Art Galleries

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles