Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK


For all its fame and antiquity, Canterbury is an unexpectedly small place, one that can easily be explored on foot and in a long weekend. Above all the city is known as a religious centre, home of the Anglican church, seat of its archbishop, and a centre of pilgrimage for centuries. The great Cathedral, medieval churches and abbeys, and fine ancient architecture are indeed the most obvious attractions. But thanks to no less than three universities, Canterbury is also a lively place with no shortage of nightlife, good food or good drink.


Canterbury was inhabited at least as early as the Iron Age, and was an important centre for the local Celtic tribes – as evidenced by the Dane John burial mound. Under Roman rule Canterbury was fortified – and a place of some wealth and significance – but it was in 598AD that the city as we now know it really began to come into being.

In that year Augustine, who had been sent by the Pope to convert Britain (or reconvert it, since Christianity had first arrived under the Romans), built an abbey just outside the walls. A few years later he re-consecrated an abandoned Roman church within the walls, which became the seat of the first archbishop. The town grew and by the time of the Domesday Book (1086) was one of the largest towns in England. The murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the Cathedral in 1170 was a further impetus to growth, as pilgrims (immortalised in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) poured in to worship at his tomb.

In the sixteenth century, Henry VIII’s church reforms led to the dissolution of St Augustine’s Abbey and many lesser institutions, along with the removal of Becket’s tomb and the end of the pilgrimages. Though Canterbury remained an important town, and home of the Anglican Church, it grew slowly, and the Industrial Revolution left it far behind – and the provincial market town that survives today.

Canterbury gallery 580 large large


Southeast England's most historic small town, with a host of great attractions.
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