Spotlight on Canterbury

Canterbury Christ Church Cathedral

Canterbury Christ Church Cathedral - Credit: Archant

One of the UK’s most exciting cities is at its seasonal best at Christmas

Most famous for Christ Church Cathedral, with cobbled streets and surrounded by ancient stone walls, Canterbury is one of the most attractive, historic places in Britain, with a fully pedestrianised city centre.

The last few years have seen massive improvements. In October 2011 the New Marlowe Theatre opened, a year later The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge reopened after a ground-breaking, four-year £14m refurbishment and it’s easy to forget that it was only eight years ago that the fantastic Whitefriars Shopping Centre opened – the biggest of its kind in East Kent.

The Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey ruins and gardens, plus ancient St Martin’s church together comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What to do and see

Visit: Christ Church Cathedral (01227 762862, CT1 2EH), Eastbridge Hospital (01227 471688, CT1 2BD), The Canterbury Tales (01227 479227), St Martin’s church (CT1 1PW).

Museums/theatres: Marlowe Theatre (01227 787787, CT1 2AS), Gulbekian Theatre (01227 769075, CT2 7NB), Canterbury Heritage Museum (01227 475202, CT1 2NR), Canterbury Roman Museum (01227 785575, CT1 2JR), The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge (01227 378100, CT1 2RA).

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Scenery: The Blean (ancient woodland), St Augustine’s Gardens, Dane John Gardens, Greyfriars 13th-century estate riverside gardens and the remains of Greyfriars Priory, and Westgate Gardens.

Out of town: Goodnestone Park Gardens (01304 840107, CT3 1PL), Howletts Aspinall Wild Animal Park (01227 721286, CT4 5AE).

Eat out: Michael Caines Restaurant (01227 826684, CT1 2RX, within The Abode Hotel), Deesons British Restaurant (01227 767854, CT1 2HX), The Goods Shed (01227 459153, CT2 8AN), Augustine’s Restaurant (01227 453063, CT1 1PE), The Foundry Brew Pub/Restaurant (01227 455899, CT1 2RU), Old Weavers Restaurant (01227 464660, CT1 2AT), Posillipo (01227 761471, CT1 2DR) and Strada (01227 472089, CT1 2HX).

Shop at: Whitefriars Shopping Centre (with a fabulous flagship Fenwick), the pedestrianised High Street and St Peter’s Street. The King’s Mile (Palace Street, Guildhall Street and Sun Yard) has lots of fascinating independents, including antiques, fashion boutiques, artworks, jewellery and chocolate. The Goods Shed, next to Canterbury West rail station, has a daily Farmers’ Markets, a butcher, cheesemaker, plus a great restaurant on a raised level in its midst.

To do: Canterbury Historic River Tours (07790 534744, CT1 2AT), The Canterbury Ghost tour (0845 519 0267) on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Christmas diary

The Marlowe Theatre presents Jack and the Beanstalk (29 Nov-12 Jan 2014), while the Gulbenkian Theatre hosts Long Nose Puppets: Penguin (10-15 and 17-22 December).

Christmas Services in the Cathedral

Mothers Union Carol Service, 4 December in the Quire

St Nicholas parade service, 7 December in the nave

Canterbury Choral Society Carol Concert, 13 December in the nave

Demelza House Carols Service, 18 December in the nave

Main Cathedral

23 December, 7.30pm, Christmas Carol Service first come, first seated – no ticketing (doors open 6pm)

24 December, 11am, Crib service

24 December, 3pm, Christmas Carol Service (ticket only, unlikely to get any at late stage)

25 December, 11am, Christmas Eucharist (with the Archbishop of Canterbury)

25 December, 3.15pm, Choral Evensong

28 December, 3pm, Children’s Society Christingle service. This is an annual service by the Children’s Society, as part of national Christingle Celebration (nave); all welcome, especially children.

Property watch

One- and two-bedroom flats cost approx. £135,000 and £202,000 respectively, a three-bedroom semi is around £265,000 and a four-bedroom detached house would be upwards of £422,000.


We Made It!

27-28 Burgate, near the Cathedral.

Promoting home-made and hand-made Britain, this exciting new enterprise was begun by Lucy Gates and Emma Davis as a holistic support platform to lend logistical and practical help to local artists and craftspeople. The idea is to set creative people free from day-to-day business worries and they also offer art and craft workshops.

Inside the store you’ll find fabulous handcrafted furniture, linen, fashion items, homewares, jewellery and toys, etc. There’s also a range of wonderful Kentish produce, from Brogdale juices to Kentish fudge (they stock Cookietastic gourmet cookie mix, by Anne-Marie Butland, a finalist in the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards, in the Best Independent Retailer Awards category).

“Lucy and I have suffered problems due to illness and injury, and we decided to offer some solutions for other local artists and craftspeople,” says Emma. “The Cathedral Estates has been extremely supportive of our project, and we also owe thanks to Canterbury City partnership, Creative Canterbury, Visit Canterbury and Natalie at StartMyBiz.

“What we can offer customers is tremendous diversity: unique gifts and locally made products, costing from £1 to £2,500. It’s a perfect place for Christmas shoppers to find that extra-special gift.

“We Made It! is an experience that’s different for everyone: retro gifts for the young, beautiful homewares and designer fashion, upcycled and handcrafted furniture, the list goes on and on.

“Canterbury has something for everyone: culture, theatre, museums, restaurants and excellent shopping plus a host of events, fairs and festivals every year.”

Getting there

Canterbury is in eastern Kent, around six miles south of Whitstable, and linked to Dover by the A2. Take the A28, signposted from the A2, which joins the M25 at junction 2. There are two stations with regular services to London and the remainder of Kent.

Satnav: Canterbury CT1 2UD.


Linda Taylor, Lady Mayoress of Canterbury, and

Tell us about your role

My main duties are to accompany the Lord Mayor when she carries out her Civic Duties across Canterbury District. Unusually, the Lord Mayor of the city is my sister-in law, Councillor Heather Taylor. Primarily we’re a figurehead for the Council and the District and approachable figures for the whole community. It’s imperative that I keep a neutral stance and don’t get involved in political matters. I live with my family in a village just outside the city.

What do you have to do?

The Lord Mayor and I attend countless functions each week including formal events, visiting voluntary organisations and much more to represent the City Council. We aim to show the groups we visit, particularly voluntary organisations, that they really do matter and what they do is sincerely appreciated by the whole community. I love representing the city and raising money for my charities.

Why live in Canterbury?

The quality of life is extremely good and our communities are thriving.

What charities do you support?

I serve as patron to the Lady Mayoress’s Charity, which raises money for two charities that are close to my heart. The Pilgrims Hospice (01227 459700) provides care to the terminally ill that is second to none while the Special Needs Advisory and Activities Project, SNAAP (01227 367555), based in Herne Bay, supports those growing up with special needs and their families. With committee volunteers we’ve been organising a series of fundraisers through the year. Please see the charity page of the Canterbury City Council website for details of upcoming events.

Tell us about your fundraising missions

By the time you read this, a friend and I should have done skydived for the Lady Mayoress’s Charity. I’ve never thrown myself out of an aeroplane before so I’m nervous but very excited! Less hazardous was our recent Open Charity Golf Day with Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock as a special guest.

What do you love about Canterbury?

It’s a great city that’s absolutely brimming with history. It’s a vibrant place with a shopping centre and High Street that are almost always packed, a lively nightlife and a host of restaurants and cafés, giving the city a metropolitan feel. It’s very much a living, contemporary place.

Canterbury in a sentence?

A small but vibrant and lively city with a world-famous history and a huge heart, nestled seamlessly at the heart of the Garden of England.