Canterbury, about an hour southeast of London, is a biscuit-tin city that’s a great destination for any bookworms. You can get there easily by road, train, or bus, so if you’re visiting London, consider spending a day in Canterbury.
Experience the Canterbury of Chaucer
If you spend an hour or two wandering around the city, it’s really not hard to see where the inspiration came from for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales! The high street is lined with beautiful Tudor frontages, the Cathedral is absolutely magnificent, and the surrounding countryside is glorious.
Amble your way over to the Cathedral for a magical experience – there is an entry fee unless you’re going in to attend a service so check prices online before you visit. If you decide to have a look inside then you’ll see some of the exact same things that Chaucer did – the stone stairs that suffered years of pilgrims climbing them on their knees, the eerie crypt, and the general grandeur of the building. It certainly has the wow-factor. If you fancy exploring more of the religious aspects of the city that would have been thriving in Chaucer’s day, walk to St Augustine’s Abbey which is now an English Heritage site. This is the site where the monks of Canterbury went about their business until the abbey was destroyed as part of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Despite there not being much left standing today, the audio guides are fascinating and you’ll be able to get a good idea of what life was like for the monks.
When you’ve finished getting your fill of religious knowledge, stop to have a drink in the Miller’s Arms, or perhaps head to the Old Weavers for a bite to eat. The Old Weavers boasts 12th Century foundations and is an amazing place to be able to stop and eat. The garden at the back is also the starting point of the Canterbury River Tours.
Canterbury River Tours are a wonderful way of seeing the city from a totally new angle. You’ll be punted along the River Stour by a knowledgeable tour guide who will regale you with all kinds of amazing history as you go. See the modern day monks as you pass by the Greyfriars Chapel, and discover some delightful hidden gardens along the river banks.
One of the buildings on the stour is the Eastbridge Hospital. Unassuming from the outside, this building has been a destination for pilgrims since the 1100s, and you can still visit today for a small fee.