Canterbury
Canterbury
One of the most historic of English cities, Canterbury is famous for its medieval cathedral. There was a settlement here before the Roman invasion, but it was the arrival of St Augustine in 597 AD that was the signal for Canterbury's growth. Augustine built a cathedral within the city walls, and a new monastery outside the walls. The ruins of St Augustine's Abbey can still be seen today.
Initially the abbey was more important than the cathedral, but the murder of St Thomas a Becket in 1170 changed all that. Pilgrims flocked to Canterbury to visit the shrine of the murdered archbishop, and Canterbury Cathedral became the richest in the land. It was expanded and rebuilt to become one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in Britain.

But there is more to Canterbury than the cathedral. The 12th century Eastbridge Hospital was a guesthouse for pilgrims, and features medieval wall paintings and a Pilgrim's Chapel. The old West Gate of the city walls still survives, and the keep of a 11th century castle.

St Dunstan's church holds a rather gruesome relic; the head of Sir Thomas More, executed by Henry VIII. The area around the cathedral is a maze of twisting medieval streets and alleys, full of historic buildings. Taken as a whole, Canterbury is one of the most satisfying historic cities to visit in England.