Canterbury Heritage Museum - Invicta

Canterbury Heritage Museum - Invicta

Canterbury Heritage Museum - Rupert Bear

Canterbury Heritage Museum - Rupert Bear

Canterbury Heritage Museum

The Canterbury Heritage Museum, (formerly the Museum of Canterbury), is a museum in Stour Street, Canterbury, Kent. The museum was founded by William Masters, a local nurseryman specializing in exotic plants, who went on to serve as Hon. Curator from 1823 to 1846. The museum is in the medieval Poor Priests' Hospital with two adjoining buildings, backing on to the River Stour From 1174 to 1207 the long, low block parallel to Stour Street was the stone house of a tanner, a rich minter and the minter's son, Alexander, who converted it into an almshouse in the name of the Virgin Mary for old and poor priests. The priests used the house as a hall, living, eating and sleeping around a central fire. In 1373 the solar and undercroft were added opposite the present gateway, to give privacy on the upper floor to the master of the hospital. At the other end of the original hall was the service quarter for servants with kitchen, pantry and buttery. Next to the solar is the Chapel of St Mary, which was designed as a single open space with a back kitchen. Two upper floors were later inserted, with windows and chimney. This set of buildings became secular in 1575: a school, poorhouse, workhouse and clinic. The present museum was previously at the Beaney as the Heritage Museum, then was established in Stour Street in 1987 to celebrate local history, and the building restored to show the interior crown-post roof.


Exhibits in galleries and displays date from pre-Roman to the present, and are arranged as a time walk from the earliest to latest: prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon display; medieval discovery gallery; Marlowe whodunit display; wartime Blitz experience; Joseph Conrad gallery; Bagpuss and Clangers display; Rupert Bear Museum; exhibitions gallery. There are interactive displays involving a microscope, a treasure chest and World War II plane-spotting. There is also a wing housing The 1900 House Victorian collection. There is a tapestry, covering three walls, which shows the life-story of Thomas Becket. There is a display of bones found locally, with forensic analysis and reconstructed faces from the Meet the Ancestors show. A prized exhibit in the Saxon gallery is the Canterbury Cross, an 850 AD Saxon brooch found in St Georges Street in 1867. It is in the form of a consecration cross: traditionally one of twelve similar crosses marked on church walls to represent the apostles and the twelve anointings of the building by the bishop at consecration. It incorporates a number of sophisticated techniques into its Saxon design. Cast in bronze with complex decorations, it includes silver triangle engravings which are filled with niello (a black metal mixture consisting of copper, silver, lead and sulphur) enamel. The cross also features a small square in the centre, from which extend four arms, wider on the outside, so that the arms look like triangles, symbolising the Holy Trinity. The tips of the arms are arcs of a single circle, giving the overall effect of a round wheel.


There is also furniture, household objects, arms and armour, as well as the Canterbury Pendant: a Saxon silver portable sundial which was lent briefly in 2009 to Canterbury Cathedral for an exhibition. It was made in the form of a pendant, is ascribed to the silversmith St Dunstan (909−988 AD), and could probably only indicate the time accurately at noon. It was used to measure the time of prayer. It was found in the Cathedral cloisters during excavations in 1948. The pendant is temporarily not on display, due to security reasons. The Invicta locomotive is housed here. Built in 1829 for £635 by Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Invicta was made to work the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway (also known as the ‘Crab and Winkle line’). When the line opened on 3 May 1830 it would become the first railway in the world to operate a regular steam-powered passenger service. Running on a hilly landscape, Invicta struggled to cope with even the flattest section of the line out of Whitstable. Therefore, in 1835 modifications were carried out to try and improve efficiency; however when they proved unsuccessful the locomotive was withdrawn from service and put into storage.


The Rupert Bear Museum involves activities for children on the themes of play, entertainment and education. It includes the Bagpuss and Clangers display with items from the original television shows, such as the Emily shop-window from the opening scene of Bagpuss, because its creators Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate filmed the programmes at Firmin's house near Canterbury. The tale of Rupert Bear begins with the story of the Caldwell Family. The Caldwell’s were a family of artists who worked at Canterbury Cathedral on the restoration of stained-glass windows. Their daughter, Mary, went on to attend Simon Langton Girls’ School, then studied at the Sidney Cooper School of Art in Canterbury before going on to marry a man named Herbert Tourtel. Herbert worked for the Daily Express, and knowing his wife was somewhat of an artist, she was asked by the newspaper to invent a new children’s character. Her creation, Rupert Bear, was born. Rupert first appeared in the Daily Express on Monday 8 November 1920, in a single frame illustration called the ‘Little Lost Bear’, and continued to run in the paper every day thereafter. Mary Tourtel illustrated and wrote her Rupert stories until 1935, after which Albert Bestall continued the strip cartoons and became well-known for the Rupert annuals – a number of which are now on display.


The museum is fully accessible for people with disabilities and they offer a range of activities for this audience including tactile tours and multi-sensory object investigation sessions for blind and partially sighted people. Assistance dogs are welcome.

Canterbury Roman Museum - Mosaic

Canterbury Roman Museum - Mosaic

Canterbury Roman Museum - Silver Spoons

Canterbury Roman Museum - Silver Spoons

Canterbury Roman Museum

The Canterbury Roman Museum in Canterbury, Kent, houses a Roman pavement which is a scheduled monument, in the remains of a Roman courtyard house which itself is a grade I listed building. In the first century AD the Cantiaci were the inhabitants of Kent when the Romans captured a settlement on the River Stour and later called it Durovernum Cantiacorum, or stronghold of the Cantiaci by an Alder marsh. The new settlement was laid out as a partially grid-patterned town with a theatre, temple, forum and baths. In the late third century, to defend against attack from barbarians a town wall was built with seven gates. The town then covered 130 acres or 53 hectares. Roman Canterbury reached the height of its development around 300 AD. The Roman townhouse which contained the pavement was surrounded by public buildings. The temple precinct was partially excavated in 1976-1982, but the temple itself was not found. The townhouse associated with the pavement may have been used until about 410 AD when the Roman administration left Britain.


The pavement was discovered after World War II bombing on 1 June 1942, and excavations were carried out by Audrey Williams and Sheppard Frere between 1945 and 1946. Public access was permitted from 1946, and the site was visited by royalty. Between 1958 and 1961 it was re-excavated by Dr. F. Jenkins, and the Roman Pavement Museum was established above it. The museum was re-established as the Roman Museum in 1994 after refurbishment. It is listed at Kent County Council as a scheduled monument. It was excavated again in 1990 by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. This is the best local example of a Roman townhouse; they found that this masonry building had undergone many alterations over a long period, adding several rooms, corridors and mosaics before abandonment in the 5th century. Parts of one of the largest theatres in Britain had been located beneath nearby streets and buildings. Substantial elements of public baths have been excavated underneath modern buildings in St Margaret's Street. Enigmatic traces of the Forum Basilica can be found under the High Street.


Generations of building at Canterbury have raised the level of the town since Roman times so that the pavement, with preserved remains of a town house with hypocaust, is exhibited in situ underground. The scheduled monument listing describes the pavement thus: "The excavations of 1945−1946 uncovered a series of three mosaic panels which decorate the remains of a corridor of a Roman house". It dates from around 300 AD and is preserved with an air conditioning system. Excavated objects such as household deities, including one in the form of a horse, are shown here. There is a lot of Roman glass including some decorated examples, silver spoons, an axe, tweezers, a plumb weight and dice. The 5th century AD silver hoard was excavated at Westgate Gardens in 1962. Military artefacts include metal parts of cavalry harness which have been reconstructed with new leather straps and a pair of cavalry swords (spathae) recovered from a double burial, possibly a murder. Roof tiles and floor tiles are exhibited; one tile is impressed with the mark, "I, Cabrianus, made this tile". Another tile bears a dog's footprint, made while the clay was wet.


The museum contains a reconstructed Roman house with kitchen, and a Roman market place - probably situated in the forum - with cobbler, haberdasher, greengrocer and fast food seller. The cobbler exhibit is a consequence of archaeologists finding cut-out pieces of leather for sandals. The original cut-out leather pieces are exhibited along with reconstructions of the sandals being made. These sandals had reinforced soles. A computer screen demonstrates the possible appearance of the house in Roman Britain, with images of the pavement being excavated. The time-tunnel display explains the end of the Roman occupation of the town, and the time-view painting displays Roman Canterbury as it was in later periods. A computer game allows the visitor to test his or her skills in relation to Roman technology. Before leaving, the visitor can handle actual Roman artefacts, alongside a guide to identifying the objects. For children there are discovery trays, containing mouse bones and shells, and a facility for constructing arches.The "Make your own magnetic mosaics" and "Rotten Roman Rubbish" environmental detective game are intended to entertain and educate all ages. Access to the Roman level is via a lift, then level access throughout. The museum is fully accessible for people with disabilities and we offer a range of activities including tactile tours and multi-sensory object investigation sessions for blind and partially sighted people. Assistance dogs are welcome.

Westgate - Civil War Armour

Westgate - Civil War Armour

Westgate - Knight Templar St Maur

Westgate - Knight Templar St Maur

West Gate Towers

The Westgate is a medieval gatehouse in Canterbury, Kent, England. This 60-foot high western gate of the city wall is the largest surviving city gate in England. Built of Kentish ragstone around 1379, it is the last survivor of Canterbury's seven medieval gates, still well-preserved and one of the city's most distinctive landmarks. The road still passes between its drum towers. This scheduled monument and Grade I listed building houses the West Gate Towers Museum.


Canterbury was walled by the Romans around 300 AD. This has been consistently the most important of the city's gates as it is the London Road entrance and the main entrance from most of Kent. The present towers are a medieval replacement of the Roman west gate, rebuilt around 1380. There was a gate here at the time of the Norman conquest, which is thought to have been Roman. From late Anglo-Saxon times it had the Church of the Holy Cross on top, but both church and gate were dismantled in 1379, and the gate was rebuilt by Archbishop Simon Sudbury before he died in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. It has been suggested that it was built primarily as an entrance for pilgrims visiting the shrine of St Thomas Becket at the cathedral. However the rebuild as a defensive status symbol was paid for partly by Sudbury and partly by taxation for military protection against expected raids by the French. Canterbury's mayor and corporation were grateful to this martyr to the Revolt who had built them an additional attraction for pilgrims, and they would pray at his tomb or under the Westgate. The head of the rebellious Bluebeard the Hermit was displayed on Westgate in 1450 after he was caught by local people and sent to Henry VI. It is thought that Geoffrey Chaucer may have undertaken a pilgrimage and passed through the gate.


In 1453 Henry VI permitted the Mayor and Commonality to keep a jail at the Westgate, so the building was Canterbury's prison from the 15th to the 19th century, while Canterbury Castle was the county jail. In January 1648, after the Christmas Day riot, Parliamentarians burnt down all the wooden doors of the city's gates. They were all replaced in 1660, but these replacements were removed at the end of the eighteenth century. They were similar to the surviving wooden Christ Church gates at the cathedral. After repairs to the Westgate and jail in 1667, a pound was built on the north side for the jail; this is now gone, but Pound Lane remains. The guard rooms, heavily wood-lined in the eighteenth century, became cells for both debtors and criminals, and the room over the arch became the condemned cell with the portcullis now laid on top. Until 1775 there was a grated cage in the prison gateway, where certain prisoners were allowed to beg for alms and speak with passers by. Capital punishment was normally the gallows, plus the stake at Wincheap for religious martyrs in the time of Queen Mary. In the 19th century, the city walls that joined the gateway to the back of the drum towers were removed. Following this, in 1823–1829, a jailer's house was built on the north side, and this became a police station and is now a bar and cafe. The disused iron bridge which connects the Westgate with the bar and cafe dates from this time. Contemporary with this work was the building of St Peter's Place on the south side of the Westgate, along with passages around the Westgate and a new road across the Stour. At the end of the 19th century the Westgate was used as a temporary repository for the city archives, and a museum was opened in the gatehouse in 1906.


The gatehouse is expensively faced in coursed ashlar of Kentish ragstone. It has battered plinths to the drum towers, battlements, machicolations and eighteen gunloops: a high number for a gateway, and among the earliest gunholes in Britain. The gunloops would have been added by the beginning of the fifteenth century. It had a drawbridge over the Stour, a portcullis and wooden doors. The gateway has three floors. The ground floor was designed so that the gateway and vaulted passage had entrances to the towers on each side. Each tower had a ground-floor room with fireplace and four gunloops. The north tower's ground-floor room had a spiral staircase to upper floors. The first floor contains a large room with fireplace and, originally, the portcullis mechanism over the vaulted entranceway. This room had doors to the upper room of each tower, each with fireplace and three gunloops, and a northern door to a spiral staircase leading to the roof. Repairs were carried out due to an invasion scare during the 1470s and 1480s. In 1491 or 1492 a large, two-light, transomed, perpendicular east window was added to the large first-floor room, with a view towards the cathedral and along St Peter's Street. The roof over the large first-floor central room has a battlemented parapet walk, originally with access to the tops of both towers and machicolations, as well as to the two low chambers, each with two gunports, in the tops of both towers. This part of the tower was less well-built than the lower storeys, either due to haste during the Peasants' Revolt or because it was built later. In 1793−1794 the hall over the gate was split into three and the present square lantern added to the roof, along with the wooden doors and cell linings which are visible today; the cost was £400.


There are 17 six-foot, painted, plaster-cast maquettes for the fifteen bronze barons and two bishops (the bishops are ensconced inthe Lords Chamber at Westminster Palace); cast in 1847−1851. These were made by various named sculptors, and represent the men who signed Magna Carta: each of the fifteen barons and two bishops is named at the base. In 1908 three of the maquettes were displayed in the museum and two remain on show. The rest were put in storage and forgotten in the ground floor room of the north tower in 1987, along with several other museum exhibits, before being brought to the attention of museum staff in May 2008 after the building was flooded. The City of Canterbury museums department was said to have been attempting to remove them to safety for restoration, but was inhibited by logistics and funding. As of May 2011, ten of the maquettes in the basement have been photographed; the fate of the remaining five is unknown (another mystery). The sculptors of the maquettes are as follows: John Evan Thomas who made the maquette of Stephen Langton, as of 2013 in Canterbury Heritage Museum; Patrick MacDowell; Henry Timbrell; James Sherwood Westmacott; J. Thorneycroft (possibly Thomas Thornycroft); Frederick Thrupp; Alexander Handyside Ritchie; and William Frederick Woodington. Also part of the museum are the original felons' cells built c1830 in the gaol extension and the c1907 police station cells on the ground floor as part of The Pound Bar & Kitchen; the Civil War armoury, the Murder Holes and City Walls display. Look out for the black 'History Discs' located on all floors which give more information on the former uses of each space over the years. There is a hands-on Armour Display and Brass Rubbings to entertain the children. They regret that there is no access possible for wheelchair users. Assistance dogs are welcome. The Canterbury Tales guided tour starts from here and it is possible to get combined tickets.


Location : Canterbury Heritage Museum, Stour Street, Canterbury CT1 2NR

Location : Canterbury Roman Museum, Butchery Lane, Canterbury CT1 2JR

Location : Westgate Towers, 1 Pound Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT12BZ

Transport : Canterbury East (National Rail) then bus or 14 minutes. Bus Routes : 544 and 649 stop near by. 21A, UNI12 and Triangle4 stop close by Westgate.

Opening Times Heritage: Click here for opening times

Opening Times Roman: Click here for opening times

Opening Times Westgate: Daily 11:00 to 16.00

Tickets Heritage: Adults £8.00;   Concessions £6.00;   Children Free

Tickets Roman: Adults £8.00;   Concessions £6.00;   Children Free

Tickets Heritage/ Roman Joint: Adults £12.00;   Concessions £10.00;   Children Free

Tickets Westgate: Adults £4.00;   Concessions £3.00;   Children (5 - 15) £2.00

Tel. : 01227 475202