A Historical Walk Through Canterbury
Canterbury enjoys a delightful position in the gently undulating country of Kent, with the sea only six miles away giving a fresh and invigorating tonic to the life of the city. It is essentially old, little changed since the Middle Ages, still possessing its quaint narrow streetsÂ and buildings, charm an quiet adding to its manifold attractions.
The peacefulness and solitude of Canterbury is especially prevalent along the reaches of the Stour River, particularly to be felt in the beautiful Westgate Gardens with their well-laid-out flowerbeds and lawns. The river emerges from a narrow valley in the North downs, the elevation of which command five views over the city. It then enters the flat bed of land which separates the higher Isle of Thanet from the rest of Kent. This represents the existence in early times of a sea strait, and Forwich, little more than two miles North-East of Canterbury, was once accessible for shipping.
The surrounding country of Kent has a quiet beauty of its own, with its soft green meadows and the familiar oast-houses with their conical roofs capped by wooden cowls. Along the North downs ran the prehistoric track that became the Pilgrims Way, ending at the focus marking the site of Canterbury. The most famous of the roads approaching the city is Watling Â Street, the very first highway laid down by the Romans after they had gained a foothold in Celtic Britain at Richborough, their military gateway to the continent. Excavations shew that the Romans, after landing at Richborough, came straight to Durovernum, their name for the place around which Canterbury has risen. But this was merely a ford through marshy ground and over the Stour. Canterbury therefore became a junction for the Romans, giving them an additional exit from Britain.
In 1550, the town was the refuge of the Huguenot weavers fleeing from persecution in France; They set up their looms and thus enhanced the silk-weaving industry that flourished until 1796. The row of half-timbered houses overlooking the Stour still remains in evidence. Much has been written of Canterbury and its cathedral; many of Dickens' books were woven around Kent, and his David Copperfield includes many references to the people and places of Canterbury. One of England's most venerated poets,Â Geoffrey Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales, immortalised the Pilgrims who visited the cathedral so many years ago. Although the poems were written in the fourteenth-century, we can follow in the footsteps of these pilgrims down the same streets and into the cathedral, to find that these have not changed fundamentally.
Huguenot weavers houses, Canterbury, UK.
Saint-Augustine Abbey, Canterbury.
The Cathedral of Canterbury.
Christ Church Gate, towards the Cathedral of Canterbury.