Spotlight on Canterbury, Kent

With the finest cathedral in England, great shopping and a new world-class theatre, Canterbury is an exhilarating city with an incredible history

With the finest cathedral in England, great shopping and a new world-class theatre, Canterbury is an exhilarating city with an incredible historyWhile Canterbury is very much a city of the future, with its tremendous transport links, world-famous October festival, fantastic new theatre and excellent shopping, its majestic ‘cathedral and cobbles’ heritage and lovely scenery remain its raison d’�tre: the cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s church are designated as a World Heritage Site.Much of the town centre is pedestrianised, there are plenty of car parks on the periphery, and a central walkers-only road bisects the city, comprising the High Street, George Street and St Peters Street, with Whitefriars modern shopping centre at one end and castellated medieval Westgate Towers at the other.Where to shopThe Whitefriars centre is the main shopping mecca, a large, open-air retail space packed with fashion and lifestyle stores, including Fenwick and Nasons. Encompassed within Whitefriars is the Marlowe Arcade, Rose Square and Whitefriars Square.Leading from the High Street is The King’s Mile,  which starts at Guildhall Street, continues along Palace Street to The Borough and ends at Northgate; this exciting, arty area is described as ‘Canterbury’s most diverse and culturally unique shopping district’.The remainder of the High Street and St Peter’s Street has a host more stores and restaurants. Next to Canterbury West station in a renovated railway goods shed is The Goods Shed (Ed recommended!), a daily Farmers’ Market, butcher, and cheesemaker (closed Mon), incorporating a restaurant (see below). See also page 143 for more local Christmas shopping.Where to eat and drinkMichael Caines Restaurant at the Abode Hotel (01227 826684) offers modern European dishes, Deesons British Restaurant (01227 767854) serves an exciting and seasonal menu from the best local suppliers, while The Goods Shed (01227 459153) restaurant operates from a raised platform overlooking the daily Farmers’ Market (see above). The Millers Arms (01227 456057) has great local beers and The King’s Head is a 15th-century oak-beamed inn providing well-kept real ales and fine lagers.Traders TalkingHobgoblin Adam Pinner and colleagues (including Mark Camateras, left) have been running Hobgoblin (01227 769484), selling folk-music instruments, electric guitars and drums, for a year. “Our customers are from right across the board, all types and ages,” says Adam. “Many are students in the city, and there are definitely more undergraduates this year. We’ve got such a range of instruments and there really is something for everyone. More car parks would be helpful, but otherwise everything in Canterbury seems fine.”Atlantis/hc Digital Denny Hughes runs Atlantis/hc Digital (01227 479646), a laptop, PC, iPod and iPhone repairs and upgrades shop that also sells these items, and has been trading for two years. “I feel as if I’m bringing a breath of 21st-century technology into this marvellous historic city, and I really love its history,” says Denny, whose assistant Chloe Hughes is pictured here. “What people like about our shop is the one-to-one service. We have many elderly customers whom we’re happy to assist if they have technical problems.”

Considering a move?One-and two-bedroom flats are in the region of �123,000 and �184,000 respectively, while a three-bedroom semi could be yours for approx. �241,000. A four-bedroom detached house is likely to be upwards of �384,000.How to get thereCanterbury is 61 miles from London and close to the M20 and M2 leading to the M25; the A2 and A260 link the city with Dover. There are two stations with good services to London and main Kent towns, and the city is near Ashford International, with its fantastic high-speed links to London and the continent.Satnav postcode: CT1 2UDMy TownMark Everett, director, the Marlowe TheatreHappy with your new theatre?We feel as if we’ve now come home! The two-year hiatus while the new building was being constructed has been an odd, unsettling time, and the few months before and after opening were manically busy, but tremendously rewarding. To me this building seems to reflect what the people living and working here now are going to leave to posterity: a building that is unashamedly of the 21st century.Your main responsibilities?Apart from leading the team as chief executive, I arrange the programme and am responsible for the budget.What’s best about Canterbury?Its amazing transformation from a quiet, provincial, pretty town to one that’s performing on the world stage: it’s still relatively small, yet now it empathically ‘punches above its weight’ and has a feeling of international importance.Your favourite place?Predictably, the cathedral. It’s a wonderful relaxing place, and if you walk around the place it instantly lifts your spirits.Any local hobbies?A group of friends and I have started the Canterbury Velo club for cyclists.Any improvements needed?Managing the traffic better, ideally making the roads even more pedestrian friendly.Canterbury in a sentence?It’s a very, very pleasant place to live, shopping’s great, it’s fantastically convenient, and Europe and London are right on your doorstep.