Things to see and do - Canterbury
Kent, a Region full of History :
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Kent, a Region full of History
Kent, a Region full of HistoryBy car, 53 km, 1 day
England's south-eastern tip, exposed to the North Sea winds, fought long and hard to become the ''garden of England''. From the time of the Roman Empire to the Cinque Ports, the British equivalent of the Hanseatic League, high walls were built to push back invaders, in particular the warlike kingdom of France. The white cliffs of Dover and the North Downs, a ridge of chalk hills, fired the imagination of writers such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
The long perspective of the 14C nave as seen from the lower sides of the choir display the development f three centuries of gothic style. The simplicity of the Perpendicular style of the nave itself contrasts with the work of the two Williams, characterised by an abundance of polished Purbeck marble: the dark colours contrast with the pale chalkstone. In the left transept stands the Martyr of Becket, commemorated by the "Altar of the Sword's Tip". The medieval stained glass windows are admirable, in particular those in the large western window of the nave (12C) and those of the Redemption (13C) behind the altar. Among the most interesting tombs are that of the Black Prince and, to the north, the elaborate alabaster tomb of Henry IV. In the choir, you will see the mid-15C rood screen, the main altar and the marble throne of Saint Augustin (13C), which is traditionally used to enthrone the archbishop, primate of England. The 12C crypt contains rich pieces from the Cathedral Treasury: the elaborate rood screen of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crypt and a collection of splendid capitals. The right transept houses the funerary chapel of the Black Prince, which later became the Huguenot church. Today, it is still used for services conducted in French. The galleries of the grand cloister were rebuilt in the Perpendicular style in around 1400. The eastern gallery leads to the capitulary room, which is topped by a high oak roof on diagonal ribs.
In the Iron age, fortifications were built on the high grounds in the East, overlooking the town and port. The lighthouse is the work of the Romans, and the Church (St-Mary-in-Castro) was built by the Saxons. The magnificent keep dates from the 1180's and the spectacular Constable's Tower dates from the 13C. The Underground Works, a maze of tunnels and secret rooms were installed in the Castle during its conception, then extended greatly during the Napoleonic era and again during the Second World War. These galleries were used as general quarters during operation Dynamo (the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk in 1940) , and are also the place chosen to be the seat for the government in the event of a nuclear war. A guided tour of the Secret Wartime Tunnels takes you to the underground hospital and the communication centre of the general allied quarters, know as Hellfire corner.
To resemble the rose of the Tudors, the solid castle built under the reign of Henry VIII was designed with "petals", concentric bastions where heavy arms were used to fight off attacks from the sea.
Richborough Roman Fort was erected during the Roman invasion and is where Emperor Claudius' invading forces probably landed in AD 43. Roman Rutupiae remained one of the province's most important ports, and was later the headquarters of the troops responsible for repelling the Germanic sea-borne raiders. The massive walls still impress and can be seen from the banks of the River Stour, but no longer from the sea, now 3km distant.