Canterbury is synonymous with the history of Christianity in Britain. It was here that the first missionaries from Rome established a church in the sixth century and it has been a place of worship since then. The present cathedral is a magnificent building that was built by the Normans in 1070, only a few years after their invasion of England.
The throng of pilgrims visiting the cathedral stimulated the growth of a lively town around it. Inns, taverns, shops and other establishments to feed, house and entertain the visitors sprouted up over the years. Much of the mediaeval plan of the town is still preserved, giving you an idea of what it must have looked like centuries ago.
Of course, there is no shortages of travellers going to Canterbury in modern times either. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain and every year receives millions of visitors, some brought by religious devotion and others simply by their love of English history and culture.
The first place where visitors to Canterbury go is, of course, the cathedral. Under the soaring arches of this church you can feel the presence of ancient kings and queens who prayed in front of its altar, and were crowned, wed and buried within its walls.
The most famous name associated with the cathedral is perhaps that of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury in the twelfth century, first a close friend and then a bitter opponent of King Henry II. When the king cried out in frustration "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest!", four of his knights murdered Thomas Becket as he prayed in a chapel, which became a famous pilgrimage site. There is now a monument to his martyrdom in the cathedral and a candle is kept burning at the place that he fell.
A visit to Canterbury should always include enough time to see the lovely town as well. On your way to the cathedral, you will see the River Stour cutting a swath through town, affording many a picturesque spot from which to take that perfect photograph.
The Old Weaver's House, built on the banks of the River Stour is a historic building dating back to the 14th century. Flemish and Huguenot weavers fleeing persecution, settled here to practice their trade, creating a flourishing textile market in Canterbury.
Canterbury also has a memorial to its most famous chronicler, Chaucer. Pack along a copy of the "Canterbury Tales", for there is no better time to read its rollicking stories, ranging from the sublime to the frankly bawdy, than a trip to the town that inspired the original book.
Narrow cobbled streets flanked by half timbered medieval buildings converge upon a small 800 year old market square called the Buttermarket. Formerly known as the Bullstake, this is where bulls were tied to a stake overnight, to be harassed by dogs in the belief that this would make their meat tender. Thankfully, this barbaric practice ended a few centuries ago and the stake has now been replaced with a war memorial.
The Old Buttermarket pub in the square is a great place to stop by for a bite to eat. Their delicious food comes with a side of history!
A pub has stood on this site for over five hundred years, connected to the cathedral by underground tunnels that were often frequented by escaping monks.
One of our favourite pub breakfasts while traveling in England, was this delicious masala omelette, served British-Indian style with a dollop of tomato ketchup. It brought back memories of home!
A fluffy omelette with the freshness of herbs and veggies, carrying just a hint of spicy curry, is a great way to start or end your day. Sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese over top while the omelette is cooking, add a few pieces of warm naan and you have the makings of a perfect meal!
If you're looking for something more classic (and less spicy!), check out my French style omelette here.
2 tbsp milk or water
1 tbsp each, finely chopped: onions, tomatoes, fresh coriander leaves
1/4 of a hot green chili, thinly sliced (optional)
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp curry powder (optional)
1 tbsp butter
Beat eggs with milk or water in medium mixing bowl until lighter in colour, about 2 min.
Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the butter. Mix well.
Warm 1 tbsp butter in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into pan. Tip pan in a circular motion to distribute egg and vegetables evenly in the pan. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until eggs are set, about 3-4 min.
Uncover, fold omelette in half and transfer to a plate. Serve right away.