Canterbury for Collectors
by Terry & Doris Michaud
Approximately 40 miles due East of London is the town of Canterbury, famed for one of the most spectacular cathedrals in all of England. But Canterbury has much more to offer, particularly for collectors. It has been a frequent stop on our annual collectors' tours, and certainly a destination worthy of a minimum of a full day.
There is no question that a tour of the cathedral should be high on your list. It is located right in the town centre and a convenient place to start the day's activities. They have guided tours with knowledgeable directors, or you can do a self-guided tour. The Cathedral is a major attraction, so you may want to schedule your visit early before the lines become too long.
Our tour group is given a
reception and personal
welcome by the Lord Mayor
of Canterbury and his staff
Once you complete your visit, the streets surrounding the Cathedral are home to some truly wonderful shops for collectors of every sort. Antique stores and malls are sprinkled through the area, and there is no shortage of specialist shops offering contemporary collectables, including some of Britain's finest china, glass, jewellery, fine linens, and an endless list of merchandise on the collector's list.
The Magpie's Nest -
a charming shop
packed with juvenalia collectables
If you are seeking juvenalia, be sure to make a visit to The Magpie's Nest, just down the street from the Cathedral entrance. The shop is small, but crammed full of delights including teddy bears, miniatures, and some of the most enchanting hand-painted figures it has been our pleasure to see.
The owner is a charming lady who will answer any questions you may have and will inform you of other shops in the area of interest.
Another shop that is located in Canterbury, as well as other towns throughout England, is the English Teddy Bear Company. In addition to some unique teddies of their own design, they offer some interesting wearing apparel in teddy themes. One of the major draws to Canterbury for our tour is a visit to Canterbury Bears Ltd. Their factory is situated a short drive from Canterbury in the village of Littlebourne, and you can arrange a tour of their facility with an advance phone call.
Its fascinating to see the artists at Canterbury Bears working their magic on a teddy bear
Maude and John Blackburn are the company directors and they have been producing some truly wonderful teddy designs since 1980, supplying some of Britain's finest stores, including Harrods Department store.
Tour partners Rosemary and Bill Hayes get a special teddy signed by the designer John Blackburn (centre)
Their bears are also found in the U.S. and other countries, but it is truly a delight to be able to see them under construction right before your eyes. More often than not you can find a "one-ofI", as John Blackburn refers to some one-of-a-kind teddies available to visitors.
To arrange a tour and to get directions, call Canterbury Bears at 0227728238. They can also be contacted by fax at 0227-728487.
The city of Canterbury is steeped in history, going back some 300,000 years. It was headquarters for the military command during Roman times and was the capital of England before London. Of more modern significance, it was home to Rupert the Bear, the beloved cartoon character. Historians and collectors alike will find much to see and do in one of England's most charming cities, Canterbury.
Britain for Collectors is written by Terry & Doris Michaud, internationally known in the world of teddy bear collectors. They have authored 5 books on collecting and regularly write features for magazines in the U.S. and abroad. In a partnership with Bill & Rosemary Hayes, they conduct annual collector's tours to Great Britain.