At the heart of Kent, a region known as “the Garden of England”, Canterbury is one of the most visited cities in the UK.

This historic city holds many claims to fame. Writer Christopher Marlowe was born and lived in Canterbury. Cricketer David Gower, physician William Harvey and film director Michel Powell studied in Canterbury, and Polish poet Joseph Conrad lived and was buried in Canterbury.

Today there are 3 universities in Canterbury: The University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University and the University College for the Creative Arts. Although comparatively small, Canterbury is a young, dynamic and cosmopolite city with a rich cultural life.

Learn English in Canterbury, a historic cathedral city.

Canterbury stained glass window

Historians record signs of settlement in Canterbury as early as the Paleolithic era. Canterbury was an important centre for Celtic tribes the Romans invaded Britain in the 1st Century AD. The town flourished for 300 years under the Roman times. The Roman museum testifies of the wealth of the city and some of its rich inhabitants who had built stone houses with mosaic floors.

The city then declined and was forgotten until St Augustine and his followers settled on the banks of the river Stour in the 6th Century, founded a church in a deserted Roman building and built St Augustine’s Abbey. In 603, Canterbury gained in religious significance when it was chosen to be the seat of the first Archbishop of England.

The Middle Ages saw the arrival of the Normans who built the castle of which only the Dungeon is left today, and the Cathedral as we know it. After the murder of the Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 inside the Cathedral, Canterbury became a major pilgrimage destination. Chaucer immortalised the journey of some of these pilgrims in his Canterbury Tales, with iconic characters like the Wife of Bath, the Miller, the Pardoner or the Knight.

In the 16th Century, Henry VIII removed Thomas Becket’s shrine and closed the abbey and the friaries in Canterbury. The city gradually became a quiet market town. Pilgrimages ceased and Canterbury welcomed instead refugees from mainland Europe who were fleeing religious persecution.

Things to do while taking an English course in Canterbury.

  • Part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cathedral welcomes 1 million tourists each year. A visit to Canterbury Cathedral is a must. And if you have the time, you can experience traditional choir singing at evensong.
  • During the day, take a leisurely boat trip on the river Stour. Enjoy the many coffee shops, tea rooms and pubs of the town. In the evening, go to concerts and gigs around the city, learn salsa, enjoy arthouse cinema or watch shows in the Marlowe Theatre or the Gulbenkian Theatre.
  • If you are in Canterbury in October, then make sure to book tickets to the Canterbury Festival. Choose from a wide range of performances: from choral singing in the Cathedral to folk and jazz music in the Spiegel tent, as well as stand-up comedy, cabaret and circus acts.

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