Follow the route of countless pilgrims who paid tribute to Saint Thomas Becket, who was slain in Canterbury Cathedral. The infamous slaying, which sent reverberations through medieval Christendom, was carried out at the orders of King Henry II, but the details are still debated by historians and the event has gone on to inspire a string of novels, history books, and TV and film interpretations. The pilgrimage root is famously the setting for one of the great masterpieces of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. And Canterbury was also the birthplace of that other English literary giant, Christopher Marlowe. (Booklovers can continue their exploration of English literary history with our tour of Charles Dickens’ Rochester.)
The 11th century Canterbury Cathedral, afforded UNESCO World Heritage Site status since 1988, is the mother church of the Anglican communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Cathedral is also adoringly referred to as ‘England in stone.’ As with many ancient and holy places of worship, it is the resting place of a number of significant historical figures, including Prince Edward (the ‘Black Prince’, eldest son of King Edward III, a knight and hero of the battles of Crécy, Poitiers, and other campaigns), King Henry IV and his wife Queen Joan of Navarre, and, of course, Saint Thomas Becket.
Be expertly guided through the City of Canterbury’s quaint, medieval streets and alleys with a local who will point out places of significance, including enchanting crooked teahouses and other timber-framed buildings. Other sites include the 14th century buildings of the Westgate and the Old Weavers’ House, and the cobbled Butchery Lane which has a lovely view of the Cathedral’s Bell Harry Tower. Walk through Buttermarket, the site of medieval inns, which leads to the Christ Church Gate entrance to Canterbury Cathedral*.
Upgrade this private tour by including English afternoon tea, and visit a nearby castle or historic house for more local insights. (Please see our Tailor-Made Tours page for ideas.)
*N.B. This tour excludes tickets to Canterbury Cathedral. These may be purchased online. If you intend to book this visit to Canterbury, please enquire first as, to ensure you have privacy, you won’t be guided if you wish to visit the Cathedral. We will, of course, reconvene your outdoor private tour at an agreed meeting point.
The Cathedral is used regularly for local, regional and/or national services and events. Therefore, the Cathedral, or parts of it, may at times be closed to general visitors. Please check the ‘Upcoming Closures’ section of Canterbury Cathedral’s website.
#LetLondonBreathe and avoid the stresses of the city centre’s notoriously heavy traffic. John will collect you by car at Bromley South station, in London’s suburbs, where your private tour starts. He will drive you through the idyllic Kent countryside to Canterbury, for about 90 minutes, while sharing with you his local insights. (Travelling by car gives you easy access to other wonderful locations in Kent, many hard to reach by train.)
City of Canterbury
Walk through the medieval streets of historic Canterbury
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes – Admission tickets n/a.
Visit Canterbury Cathedral. (Optional: You may wish to spend more time exploring the city instead).
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes – Admission tickets not included
Total tour duration: 6 hours
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