Canterbury has great shops, tasty restaurants, a cute river with punting AND it’s a UNESCO site – yey! So why is does Canterbury feature as a UNESCO World Heritage site? Well the Cathedral is very famous(more on that later) but it also features the oldest church in England!
Considering how many churches there are England it’s quite amazing that you can see the oldest here in Canterbury!
I visited for a day trip. I would recommend visiting before Christmas as I imagine the Christmas shopping there is ace. If you are hoping to visit a few more UNESCO sites on your trip to Canterbury, you could stop in London and visit Kew Gardens or the Tower of London.
This UNESCO site encompasses three buildings within it dotted around Canterbury:
St Martin’s Church (Oldest Church in England)
A 10 minute walk from Canterbury Cathedral is the Church of St Martin, the oldest church in English speaking world. Today you can still see the original roman temple structure from when it was first built. The story of the church’s origins is quite a romantic one. In 580 AD, Bertha, a Christian princess from Tours in France married Ethelbert of Kent who was a pagan Anglo-Saxon. She married Ethelbert on the condition she could continue to practise her own religion and had a place of worship. This led Ethelbert to restore St Martin’s for her. Ethelbert became king of Kent and eventually converted to Christianity himself.
St Martin’s Church has been altered and extended in the 6th, 7th and 14th centuries but the southern wall retains its Roman fabric. There is plenty of information within this cute church and a volunteer who can answer any questions.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 11am to 3pm.
Saturdays: 11am to 4pm
Sunday mornings: 9.45am to 10.30am (following the 9am service)
Free / Donations welcome.
At the time of visiting in September 2017, there was lots of scaffolding on the outside of the cathedral and also inside. See image below. It didn’t look like the scaffolding was being removed any time soon, so it’s worth planning your visit accordingly as I was slightly disappointed there was no mention of this on the website. Aside from this the cathedral is an absolutely fascinating place to walk around. As well as being the being site of Thomas Beckett’s murder, a top highlight was simply wondering around the grounds. Remains from the monastery include a brewery, bakery, herb garden and water tower. There is so much greenery, a school and dreamy houses!
Cost: £12.50 for 12 months entry.
Tours are £5 and are worth it as there is not a lot of information on the inside. There are knowledgeable volunteers dotted around inside.
Weekdays (Monday to Friday) 10:30*, 12:00 and 14:00 (14:30 Summer) hrs
Saturday 10:30, 12:00 and 13:00 hrs
St Augustine’s Abbey
This is an English Heritage property, so unless you are a member it costs £6.90 to get in, so I just viewed it from afar.
I got the train to Canterbury from London Stratford for £35 on the day (my car broke down the week before :-(, hence lack of advanced planning on my part for cheaper tickets.) After seeing all three sites I ordered an Uber for £13.43 to Whitstable. I would highly recommend visiting Whitstable if you do this trip in the summer. It’s a small seaside town with very nice bars and also a lovely place on the sea front to try seafood called The Lobster Shack. Favourite pub was a quirky micro pub called The Black Dog.
The Crescent Turner Hotel, Whitstable – £135, Thurs-Fri in basic double.
I had read about this hotel in the paper years ago and always wanted to visit. For the price it didn’t live up to the expectation. Overall a nice stay but the furniture needs a lick of paint. I wouldn’t recommend staying unless you have a car as it’s a good 30 minute walk to Whitstable(not 15 min as I had read elsewhere.)