The City of Canterbury is situated on the River Stour in Kent. This city is particularly fascinating as its habitation history dates back to prehistoric times. Although well within the 21st Century, Canterbury maintains a timeless charm, luring visitors from all over England and the world.
Many remnants of the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age eras have been discovered in the area now known as Canterbury. Although Celtic tribes were the first official civilisations to inhabit the region, the Romans invaded in the first century of our Common Era (CE). These Italians named it Durovernum Cantiacorum. Under their control, the entire ‘city’ was rebuilt to include a temple, theatre, public baths and a more advanced street pattern. As was their custom, the Romans constructed a high wall around the city, defending them from Viking invasions. When the Romans had to return to Italy suddenly (during the fifth century), this city was abandoned and left to disintegrate over time. Then, the Jutish refugees (of Anglo-Saxon origin) arrived over the course of the next century, renaming the city Cantwaraburh. Augustine was soon despatched to the area to convert the locals to Christianity in 597. Once this had been accomplished, Canterbury was chosen as the centre for an Episcopal see in Kent. Augustine was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. This put Canterbury on the map, so to speak, leading to its rejuvenation as a significant English city. When Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered at the cathedral in 1170, this city became one of the best known in all of Europe.
St.Augustines Abbey with Canterbury Cathedral in the background, England. This Abbey, founded by St.Augustine in around 598, is one of the oldest monastic sites in England.
In 1448, Canterbury was given a City Charter. As such, it received a mayor and a high sheriff. Today, some 600 years later, the city still has a Lord Mayor and a Sheriff, testifying to the value placed on such traditions.
Canterbury is just under 90 kilometres (or 55 miles) away from London, right on the River Stour. One fork of this river runs through the city, while the other runs along its former border. Some parts of the river are navigable.
Canterbury is one of the largest business districts in Kent, contributing significantly to its financial security and prolific nature. Although the development of several major projects plays an important role to the area’s economy, tourism also contributes greatly. Visitors flock from all over England and the world to witness some of this city’s culture, history and religious heritage. Some of the chief attractions in Canterbury include:
• The Canterbury Cathedral (part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site) – estimated to receive one million visitors every year • The Roman Museum (dating back to the earliest part of our Common Era), including Queningate and the Dane John Mound • The ruins of the Norman Canterbury Castle and St Augustine's Abbey • St Margaret's Church (home to the famous " Canterbury Tales") • The Westgate (a museum that relates its story of once being a jail) • The Canterbury Environment Centre (once the medieval church of St Alphege) • The King's School Music Room (once the Old Synagogue at Canterbury) • The "Old Weaver's House" • St Martin's Mill • The University of Kent • Canterbury Christ Church University • The Marlowe Theatre • The St Lawrence Ground