"" Writer's Wanderings: My Canterbury Tales 2

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Canterbury Tales 2

Canterbury Cathedral
After a hearty English breakfast at our B&B, we set off with our audio tours dangling from our necks and headphones on ears. The Canterbury Audio Tour began at the Christ Church Gate, the entry to the Cathedral grounds. For some reason, I did not take a picture of it. Maybe I needed another cup of coffee to wake me up.  The morning was cool with the promise of another sunny day. Who would guess that I'd get a tan in England?

Weavers House
We passed by the East Bridge Hospital, founded just after the murder of Thomas Becket as a place to house pilgrims to the city, and walked over the King's Bridge that was built in the 12th century but was widened in the 1700s. It takes its name from the Kings Mill that used to stand there. Next to the bridge was the Weavers House, built in 1507, it housed Hugenot Weavers whose skills were greatly appreciated. It is from the King's Bridge that you can take water tours (punting) on the river boats.

Marlowe Theatre
Continuing down Peters Street we reached the corner of The Friars. Looking off to our right, we could see the modern Marlowe Theatre. Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare and it has been rumored off and on that perhaps he wrote for Shakespeare. He was born in Canterbury and attended King's School there.

From the theater, we walked to the Westgate Gardens near the Westgate Towers. The gardens border the River Stour and have been around since medieval times. There is a huge oriental tree in the middle of the garden said to be 200 years old whose massive trunk has grown through a circular iron seat place there long ago as seat in the garden.

The Tower House
The Tower House sits at one end of the Westgate Gardens. The structure is built around one of the square towers that was originally a part of the city's defense. The stone and brick building is now the office of the mayor.

Westgate Towers
Large, round, and gray, the Westgate Towers form the gate to the city. It is also home to an armory, dungeons, murder holes, and museums housing 600 years of history.

The Westgate Towers sit on the corner of an interesting street. It's called Pound Lane. As the story went, the animals were let loose on the streets to clean up the garbage but there was a curfew on them. Any that were still wandering and not claimed by their owners by curfew were rounded up and taken to the pound--on Pound Lane of course.

We crossed over the Stour River again at the place where the Abbott's Mill used to stand. There were several mills along the Stour. At this particular spot it was a mill used for corn and grains. The building that was on the spot dated back to 1792 but in 1933, it was totally destroyed in a fire. One of the axles still remains from the mill wheel. This was a very scenic spot especially in the evening looking down the river and seeing the backyard gardens reflected in it.
The Mint Yard Gate

The next significant spot on our tour was the Mint Yard Gate, the entrance to the King's School where Christopher Marlowe was a student. The school is still operating. Across from the gate is an older building with a very unusual door. It was the original King's School shop and was also owned by someone named John Boy (I don't believe he was related to the Waltons). From the old pictures I found on the internet, it appears the house has always been crooked as has the door. Back in the 1980s it was shored up on the inside with a metal cage when it was deemed unsafe.

Sugar Boy Sweet Shop
On the corner across from the shop is the Sugar Boy Sweet Shop. It is a candy lover's dream. The shelves are bulging with gallon jars of sweet treats. We stopped in and bought some Walker's Toffee and fell in love. Now we are trying to find a supplier in the U.S. Then again, it may just justify another trip to the UK.

Conquest House
Palace Street took us back in the direction of the Cathedral again. Along the way, we found the Conquest House where it is said the conspirators met who murdered Thomas Becket. The facade is 17th century but behind it is a structure built in the 1100s.

Sun Hotel
Our last point of interest on the first route of our tour was the Sun Hotel and Tea Rooms. It is a 15th century hotel that boasts of Charles Dickens' visit. It has been brought up to modern day standards and reopened as a hotel. I understand it is also a great place for cream tea--tea served with scones and clotted cream and not to be missed on any visit to England.

 It wasn't time for tea but it was time for lunch before we set out on Route #2 of our tour. We turned off the voices and headed for a local establishment for a light lunch.

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