Canterbury is beautiful, and a lot of this comes down to its history- there is still plenty of it on show and in a way feels a lot like York with the imposing cathedral, high city walls and medieval streets. So here’s a quick review of 3 historic sites in the town- the Roman Museum, the Norman Castle and the Cathedral.
1. The Roman Museum.
Canterbury has a long and excellent history dating back thousands of years, but this museum doesn’t do it justice. Firstly the museum is hard to find, with confusing signs and it not clear on Google maps. It’s tucked away down a side street and is very easy to walk past and not notice. When you get in, they charge you £8 which felt like a total rip off by the end as it was that bad. Yes they have some interesting mosaics but that’s about it for an adult with a brain. I’m sure it’s good for kids but there was little information that wasn’t obvious and the life size figures were creepy. Don’t go if you already know something about the Romans as there’s just not that much there. I was very disappointed.
This was much more interesting, and free. It’s a little out of town but worth the 5 minute walk. Built mainly in the reign of Henry I, it had been one of Kent’s most important castles until Dover Castle took over, then transforming into a prison before falling into ruin. There are information boards dotted around and you can climb up one on the towers, or relax in the nearby garden. Although a quick stop as there’s not much of it left, it was still interesting and would be great for kids to let off some steam and explore a proper bit of history.
You can’t really come to Canterbury without visiting the Cathedral . Although a little expensive to get in (£12) this does get you entry for the year if you keep your receipt. It’s a world heritage site and is absolutely stunning and full if history. Most famous as the scene of Thomas Becket’s murder, it was an important Christian site well before that, and still is today as the working home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England. Inside there is a real sense of peace and reflection, but also for the geeky history teacher the various tombs of famous individuals and the shrine to Thomas Becket which was fascinating. You can also walk around the pretty park outside and just enjoy the view of this spectacular building.