Dane John Gardens
Dane John Gardens
Canterbury's largest and most popular garden. The intriguing name comes from an English mangling of the Norman French 'donjon' (forerunner of our word 'dungeon'). In this case the term does not refer to a prison, but to an early Norman castle founded by William the Conqueror.
Shortly after the Conquest, William established castles at Canterbury, Dover, and Rochester. These were simple wooden structures atop a high mound, or motte. The high castle mound, known locally as Dane John's Mound, gives its name to the garden. However, the mound itself was in existence well before the Norman Conquest; it dates to at least the 1st century AD.

The park containing the garden was in place by 1551, but the formal gardens that stretch out at the foot of the mound were laid out around 1790 as a gift to the city by Alderman James Simmons. A memorial obelisk to Simmons stands at the top of Dane John Mound.

Simmons, whose grave can be seen at St Mildred's church, created a garden bounded on one side by an avenue of plane trees and on the other side by the old city walls. There is a play area, fountain, and bandstand where open air events are held. Visitors and residents alike enjoy walks along the city walls, which give great views across the city.