There is lots about Canterbury you’ll already know – it’s a great place to study, it’s home to an International Arts Festival and it runs a great river tour! But because Canterbury is a beautiful, old English city steeped in history, we knew there was more to discover.
- For instance, did you know Canterbury is situated in the 4th best region to visit around the world! Canterbury’s region, Kent, was the only place in the UK to make it onto Lonely Planet’s 2022 list.
The location’s rich heritage was integral to Kent ranking so highly. Though of all the cities, towns and villages that have bloomed throughout the region, Canterbury should be deemed the heart of Kent’s historical happenings.
- You can find England’s oldest, in use, church in Canterbury. To this day it holds ceremonies in the style of 14th and 15th century masses.
- The daily opening and closing of the cathedral is marked by the chimes of a 17th century bell.
- From 1830, passengers could journey via train between Whitstable and Canterbury on the world’s first passenger railway. This lasted until 1844 when the railway went bankrupt.
- Canterbury was heavily bombarded during The Blitz. Despite this, Canterbury Cathedral remained largely intact. People lit fires around the grounds to make it appear like the structure was already burning!
- During Roman occupation of Britain, an earth bank and wall were built around the city. This was done to protect it from attacking barbarians!
Like the need to protect itself from barbarian attacks might suggest, there’s a darker side to Canterbury’s prolific past.
- 1556 saw Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, burned at the stake! Appointed by Henry VIII, he was later deemed a heretic and religious dissenter by Henry’s daughter Queen Mary I of England.
- Cranmer isn’t the only Archbishop to have met an untimely demise! In 1170, by order of the king, Thomas Becket was murdered within the cathedral’s walls.
This grizzly fact led Canterbury to become a popular destination amongst Christian pilgrims, who travelled from all over the British Isles to pay their respects at Becket’s shrine. The number of pilgrims Canterbury attracted was one of the things that thrust it into Britain’s spotlight.
- Canterbury is the inspiration behind one of Britain’s most significant pieces of Medieval literature: The Canterbury Tales! Written in the late 14th century by Geoffrey Chaucer, the story tells of a ragtag group of pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury.
- The Canterbury Tales is so significant a statue of Chaucer was built in Canterbury’s high street.
Bonus Fact: The statue’s mount is decorated with famous local faces. They’re designed to fill the roles typical of a 14th century entourage. This includes Orlando Bloom (Canterbury’s most famous actor) featuring as the young squire!
It was approximately 2000 years ago that people first settled along the banks of the Stour. Gradually, the settlement amassed a rich and intriguing history and, at some point, became known as Canterbury. The Worthgate School was established here just over 70 years ago and ever since then our students have been captivated by this beautiful, historic city. There is always something new to learn or be inspired by as you wander through Canterbury’s ancient streets.