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Make Young Scientists Journal’s science and communications conference, for 14-18 year olds, just one part of a great day out to the historic city of Canterbury. Vickey Leigh –  a student from The King’s School, Canterbury – divulges some insiders insights in this city guide:

As you walk along the pavements in central Canterbury you will start to notice a wonderful combination of ancient and modern features, which gives it such a unique and quirky atmosphere. Canterbury is most well-known for its cathedral which was first founded after St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived in 597 AD as missionary to England. The cathedral you see today, however, was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. Whilst the east end was enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and rebuilt again in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174. The cathedral has always been a very important site of Pilgrimage, as the home of the Anglican Church, but especially so after the murder of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket on the 29th December 1170.

Canterbury Cathedral from The King's School

The view of Canterbury Cathedral from The King’s School Canterbury

St Augustine’s arrival in 597 also meant the beginning of the King’s School, making it the oldest school in England and one of the oldest in the world. The school was originally dedicated to Christian faith education and was run by the monastic establishment. After the dissolution of the monasteries (between 1536 and 1541) the School was officially named after King Henry VII and established itself in the Mint Yard, nestled in the surroundings of what is today a world heritage site encompassing the Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey. Since this reinvention, King’s has given rise to several notable alumni such as literary figures Christopher Marlowe and Somerset Maugham; famous scientist William Harvey who discovered the circulation of the blood and more recently author Michael Morpurgo and double Olympic rowing medallist Fran Houghton. King’s went through a second reinvention when girls were introduced in 1970 and it has been co-educational ever since, establishing itself as one of the leading independent schools in the country.

Historic River Tours in Canterbury

Historic River Tours in Canterbury

However, the Cathedral and the school are not the only interesting aspects about Canterbury: if you’re feeling cultural, there are some really great activities such as the river tour which is located on Westgate Towers side of the High Street. There is also a very interesting library called the Beaney which has art exhibitions and historic displays. Carrying on with the literary theme that Kings has established, there is an interactive museum called the Canterbury Tales which allows you to experience a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury followed by the telling of five of Chaucer’s most famous tales. Chaucer wrote over twenty stories at the end of the 14th century, and these are linked to Canterbury by the fact these stories are presented as part of a story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims as they journey from Southwark to Canterbury cathedral. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also museum built around the remains of an original Roman town house with mosaics and under-floor heating; this museum takes you right from the ‘Baedeker’ Blitz of 1942 (which although destroyed much of Canterbury, led to the discovery of Roman remains) all the way to Roman Canterbury. There are many other rooms which go into more detail about aspects of life in Roman Canterbury such as the marketplace and everyday life; definitely worth a visit.

Vibrant shopping awaits in Canterbury

Vibrant shopping and dinning awaits in Canterbury


Canterbury is also known for its vibrant shopping and restaurant scene; there are the classic chain restaurants such as Wagamammas but there are some local gems such as Pinocchio’s which serves Italian food, the Moroccan Azouma, the Chocolate Café which is pretty self-explanatory, Tamago which is where the best Chicken Katsu curries are made and Chom Choms which serves a wide range of Asian food. There are also plenty of tea shops around the city centre which serve delicious cakes.