The Cathedral Quarter: Canterbury's Hidden Gem
Cast your eyes past the crowds that congregate outside the Cathedral gates and you’ll find some of the finest independent retailers and restaurants that the city has to offer. Welcome to Canterbury’s Cathedral Quarter!
Tucked away behind the High Street, the Cathedral Quarter runs from Canteen on Sun Street all the way up to the eastern city walls at the top of the Burgate. The Cathedral itself is the linchpin of the area but it is also jam-packed with a diverse range of local businesses that are a destination in themselves.
Start your day with a spot of retail therapy at one of the many independent shops that line Burgate. Antoine et Lili – a stylish clothing boutique that started life in Paris – is a must-visit for the fashion conscious amongst you, as is Loake Shoemakers, who have been making quality men’s footwear since the 1800s. Neighbouring these is Biggs Opticians, a specialist, family-run eyewear retailer offering a selection of frames and comprehensive sight testing, and Wrapped, a quirky gift shop for adults and children alike. And don’t forget to call in at the Cathedral Shop for a whole host of items, plus information and much more relating to Canterbury.
Wind your way down past the cathedral for lunch at Canteen on Sun Street, a health conscious cafe serving a delicious range of deli flat breads, tea, coffee and freshly squeezed juice. Or if you’re after something traditional (and quintessentially British!), The Old Moat Tea Rooms does a sensational cream tea to fuel the rest of your day. In fact, there are nine places to eat and drink in the quarter, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Nearer the eastern city walls, The Veg Box Cafe is a local favourite or you can call into Canterbury Wholefoods, who have everything you need for an alfresco picnic on the banks of the Stour. And while you’re discovering all on offer, stop off and browse – and buy! – at The Chinaman or treat yourself, or that someone special in your life, to a bespoke piece of jewellery from Stilwell Jewellers.
Now back to Burgate. Fitzgerald Jewellers is another hidden gem well worth a visit, stocking several unique lines of jewellery and creating bespoke pieces to order. There’s also Canterbury Pottery, only a few doors down, who sell a range of handmade ceramics and offer commissions as well. If that’s not enough, be sure to wander down Butchery Lane, Rose Lane and the Longmarket – two narrow streets that stem from Burgate and feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Something for everyone
It’s not all about shopping though. There’s plenty of R&R available in this part of the city too, with Therapy offering top-to-toe treatments for hair and body alike. However, if you prefer to save this for home, Crabtree & Evelyn are world-leaders in bath, body and skincare products and you’ll find them at the top of Burgate.
And there’s something for the children too – a visit to The Elves and the Shoemaker will see them fitted with essential school shoes or something a little more fancy for the forthcoming festive season.
The atmosphere in the Cathedral Quarter is what really puts it on the map. Stop by The Old Buttermarket for a pint of local ale and watch the world go by from one of the tables that spill out onto the square. You can easily while away several hours here as the sun sets, resting tired legs after you’ve explored the plethora of boutiques that surround it.
Finish your evening with dinner at one of the award-winning eateries in the area. Chapter, a recently opened sourdough pizzeria, is a great choice, showcasing the finest Italian ingredients, which are fired before your eyes. Or pop into Jeeves & Johnson Emporium, for the finest selection of beers, wines, spirits and champagne to enjoy at home or to give as gifts
For more information on the Cathedral Quarter and upcoming events, visit:
Images: Canterbury Cathedral