Westgate Gardens
Westgate Gardens
A small, attractive garden along the banks of the River Stour, at the west end of the old city walls of Canterbury. At the northern end of the gardens is the historic West Gate to the city.

At the south end of the gardens is Tower House, an early Victorian building owned by the City Council. This was formerly owned by Catherine Williamson, the first female mayor of Canterbury. After her death, the house was presented to the city, and it now houses the Mayor's offices.

The gardens follow the course of the Roman city wall. There are no traces of the wall today, for during the Civil War the walls were destroyed and the stone plundered for building projects.

During the summer months, visitors can take punt trips along the River Stour from a slipway across from the garden.

The riverside garden and the medieval West Gate
The riverside garden and
the medieval West Gate

In the gardens is an old medieval archway which may have been brought here from the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey.

A plaque in the garden marks the site of the old Roman London Gate.


This stretch of land along the Stour has a long history as a garden; in the 15th century there were no less than five gardens and a hay meadow here. There was constant bickering and several court cases between the residents and the Prior of Christ Church over ownership of the land.

In 1500 the Mayor and residents seized the area by force. They were charged and tried before the Court of Star Chamber. The mayor and his adherents made sure of winning their case by spending lavishly to bribe lawyers, and the case was decided in the city's favour!

In 1641 Cromwell's army destroyed the last surviving bit of city wall within the garden.