I mentioned the other day that I’d started to feel a little bit of cabin fever in the days between Christmas and New Year. I had to get out of the house. Being at my Mum’s house in the Midlands helped because there were so many different places to go, but even when I returned to London at the end of the Christmas holidays, I still felt like I had to go and explore somewhere. Canterbury has been on my list for quite a little while and having a few days off before I started back at work, it felt like the right time to go and visit.
Here are six reasons why you should too.
Canterbury is really easy to get to.
I know this seems like such a silly reason, but just like when I’ve visited Tunbridge Wells or Rochester it was actually quite a factor in deciding where to go. You can jump onto High Speed 1 and be in Canterbury within the hour. You can do it all within a day and don’t have to worry about paying for a hotel and having to make a weekend of it.
It’s full of history.
You can’t walk down a street without coming across a building which feels like it’s been there forever, and they’re all different and interesting. There are wonky doors, buildings which overhang into the streets and buildings which don’t even look like they should be standing anymore. No two streets in the centre are the same.
Chaucer is everywhere. For me, this brought back horrendous memories of my English A-level. I studied the Millers Tale and I’m still not sure exactly how I managed to get through the exam. If literature is your thing, you can’t really beat the Canterbury tales. They do have everything: love, marriage, relationships, affairs, death. If Chaucer isn’t your thing, you can still find references to Charles Dickens dotted about the city. Canterbury is referenced in many books of his, especially David Copperfield.
St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church.
Together with the cathedral, the Abbey and the Church form a UNESCO heritage site. St Augustine’s Abbey is just outside the city walls and can be easily missed. It was founded as a site in 597 and marked the rebirth of Christianity in the south of England. St Martin’s Church is the first church founded in England and the oldest parish church in continuous use. Pretty impressive non?
The scale of visitors this place gets is pretty impressive – almost 1m people flock to the Cathedral each year. It’s one of the oldest Christian cathedrals in England and the site where Thomas Beckett was murdered in 1170. That’s resulted in the pilgrimage which still takes place today and was the feature of the Canterbury Tales. It’s an incredibly beautiful cathedral. The only problem is that it’s pretty expensive to get in. I think it was £18 when we were there. Not exactly a cheap day trip.
I was quite surprised by the number of cafes that were littering the streets in Canterbury. I’d had it down as quite a small place. You definitely won’t go hungry on a visit there. We settled on the traditional English tea room Tiny Tims, which serves a Kentish cream tea and bakes their scones fresh each morning. Perfect.