Canterbury lies on the Great Stour river
Canterbury shown within Kent
|OS grid reference|
|– London||53.7 miles|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||CT1, CT2, CT3, CT4, CT5|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Canterbury (, , or ) is a historic English cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a local government district of Kent in the United Kingdom. It lies on the River Stour.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the primate the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion owing to the importance of St Augustine, who served as the apostle to the pagan Kingdom of Kent around the turn of the 7th century. The city's cathedral became a major focus of pilgrimage following the 1170 martyrdom of Thomas Becket. A journey of pilgrims to his shrine served as the narrative frame for Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century classic The Canterbury Tales.
Canterbury is a popular tourist destination: consistently one of the most-visited cities in the United Kingdom, the city's economy is heavily reliant upon tourism. The city has been occupied since paleolithic times and served as the capital of the Celtic Cantiaci and Jute Kingdom of Kent. Many historical structures fill the area, including a city wall founded in Roman times and rebuilt in the 14th century, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and a Norman castle, and perhaps the oldest school in England, The King's School. Modern additions include the Marlowe Theatre and the St Lawrence Ground, home of the Kent County Cricket Club. There is also a substantial student population, brought about by the presence of the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, the University College for the Creative Arts, and the American University – Canterbury. Canterbury remains, however, a relatively small city, when compared with other British cities.
- Name 1
- Early history 2.1
- 14th–17th centuries 2.2
- 18th century–present 2.3
- Governance 3
- Geography 4
- Demography 5
- Economy 6
- Landmarks 7.1
- The Marlowe Theatre 7.2.1
The Cathedral 7.3.1
- Medieval 126.96.36.199
- Post-Reformation 188.8.131.52
The City 7.3.2
- Early modern 184.108.40.206
- Contemporary 220.127.116.11
- Composers 7.3.3
- The Cathedral 7.3.1
- Sport 7.4
- Railway 8.1
- Road 8.2
- Education 9
Local media 10
- Newspapers 10.1
- Radio and television 10.2
- Notable people 11
- International relations 12
- See also 13
- References 14
- Sources 15
- External links 16
The Roman settlement of Durovernum Cantiacorum ("Kentish Durovernum") occupied the location of an earlier British town whose ancient British name has been reconstructed as *Durou̯ernon ("Stronghold by the Alder Grove"). In Sub-Roman Britain, it was known in Old Welsh as Cair Ceint ("Fortress of Kent"). Occupied by the Jutes, it became known in Old English as Cantwareburh ("Kentish Stronghold"), which developed into its present name.
- History of Canterbury redirects here. For the history of the regional area of this name in New Zealand, see History of the Canterbury Region.
The Canterbury area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Lower Paleolithic axes, and Neolithic and Bronze Age pots have been found in the area. Canterbury was first recorded as the main settlement of the Celtic tribe of the Cantiaci, which inhabited most of modern day Kent. In the 1st century AD, the Romans captured the settlement and named it Durovernum Cantiacorum. The Romans rebuilt the city, with new streets in a grid pattern, a theatre, a temple, a forum, and public baths. In the late 3rd century, to defend against attack from barbarians, the Romans built an earth bank around the city and a wall with seven gates, which enclosed an area of 130 acres (53 ha).
Despite being counted as one of the 28 cities of Sub-Roman Britain, it seems that after the Romans left Britain in 410 Durovernum Cantiacorum was abandoned except by a few farmers and gradually decayed. Over the next 100 years, an Anglo-Saxon community formed within the city walls, as Jutish refugees arrived, possibly intermarrying with the locals. In 597, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine to convert its King Æthelberht to Christianity. After the conversion, Canterbury, being a Roman town, was chosen by Augustine as the centre for his episcopal see in Kent, and an abbey and cathedral were built. Augustine thus became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. The town's new importance led to its revival, and trades developed in pottery, textiles, and leather. By 630, gold coins were being struck at the Canterbury mint. In 672, the Synod of Hertford gave the see of Canterbury authority over the entire English Church.
In 842 and 851, Canterbury suffered great loss of life during Danish raids. In 978, Archbishop Dunstan refounded the abbey built by Augustine, and named it St Augustine's Abbey. A second wave of Danish attacks began in 991, and in 1011 the cathedral was burnt and Archbishop Alphege was killed in 1012. Remembering the destruction caused by the Danes, the inhabitants of Canterbury did not resist William the Conqueror's invasion in 1066. William immediately ordered a wooden motte-and-bailey castle to be built by the Roman city wall. In the early 12th century, the castle was rebuilt with stone.
After the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket at the cathedral in 1170, Canterbury became one of the most notable towns in Europe, as pilgrims from all parts of Christendom came to visit his shrine. This pilgrimage provided the framework for Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century collection of stories, The Canterbury Tales.
Canterbury is associated with several saints from this period who lived in Canterbury:
- Saint Augustine of Canterbury
- Saint Anselm of Canterbury
- Saint Thomas Becket
- Saint Mellitus
- Saint Theodore of Tarsus
- Saint Dunstan
- Saint Adrian of Canterbury
- Saint Alphege
- Saint Æthelberht of Kent
The Black Death hit Canterbury in 1348. At 10,000, Canterbury had the 10th largest population in England; by the early 16th century, the population had fallen to 3,000. In 1363, during the Hundred Years' War, a Commission of Inquiry found that disrepair, stone-robbing and ditch-filling had led to the Roman wall becoming eroded. Between 1378 and 1402, the wall was virtually rebuilt, and new wall towers were added. In 1381, during the Peasants' Revolt, the castle and Archbishop's Palace were sacked, and Archbishop Sudbury was beheaded in London. Sudbury is still remembered annually by the Christmas mayoral procession to his tomb at Canterbury Cathedral. In 1413 Henry IV became the only sovereign to be buried at the cathedral. In 1448 Canterbury was granted a City Charter, which gave it a mayor and a high sheriff; the city still has a Lord Mayor and Sheriff. In 1504 the cathedral's main tower, the Bell Harry Tower, was completed, ending 400 years of building.
During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the city's priory, nunnery and three friaries were closed. St Augustine's Abbey, the 14th richest in England at the time, was surrendered to the Crown, and its church and cloister were levelled. The rest of the abbey was dismantled over the next 15 years, although part of the site was converted to a palace. Thomas Becket's shrine in the Cathedral was demolished and all the gold, silver and jewels were removed to the Tower of London, and Becket's images, name and feasts were obliterated throughout the kingdom, ending the pilgrimages.
By the 17th century, Canterbury's population was 5,000; of whom 2,000 were French-speaking Protestant Huguenots, who had begun fleeing persecution and war in the Spanish Netherlands in the mid-16th century. The Huguenots introduced silk weaving into the city, which by 1676 had outstripped wool weaving.
In 1647, during the English Civil War, riots broke out when Canterbury's puritan mayor banned church services on Christmas Day. The rioters' trial the following year led to a Kent revolt against the Parliamentarian forces, contributing to the start of the second phase of the war. However, Canterbury surrendered peacefully to the Parliamentarians after their victory at the Battle of Maidstone.
The city's first newspaper, the Kentish Post, was founded in 1717. It merged with the newly founded Kentish Gazette in 1768.
By 1770, the castle had fallen into disrepair, and many parts of it were demolished during the late 18th century and early 19th century. In 1787 all the gates in the city wall, except for Westgate – the city jail – were demolished as a result of a commission that found them impeding to new coach travel. By 1820 the city's silk industry had been killed by imported Indian muslins. The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, the world's first passenger railway, was opened in 1830. Between 1830 and 1900, the city's population grew from 15,000 to 24,000. Canterbury Prison was opened in 1808 just outside the city boundary.
During the First World War, a number of barracks and voluntary hospitals were set up around the city, and in 1917 a German bomber crash-landed near Broad Oak Road. During the Second World War, 10,445 bombs dropped during 135 separate raids destroyed 731 homes and 296 other buildings in the city, including the Simon Langton Grammar Schools, and 115 people were killed. The most devastating raid was on 1 June 1942 during the Baedeker Blitz.
Before the end of the war, architect Charles Holden drew up plans to redevelop the city centre, but locals were so opposed that the Citizens' Defence Association was formed and swept to power in the 1945 municipal elections. Rebuilding of the city centre eventually began 10 years after the war. A ring road was constructed in stages outside the city walls some time afterwards to alleviate growing traffic problems in the city centre, which was later pedestrianised. The biggest expansion of the city occurred in the 1960s, with the arrival of the University of Kent at Canterbury and Christ Church College.
The 1980s saw visits from Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth II, and the beginning of the annual Canterbury Festival. Canterbury received its own radio station in CTFM, now KMFM Canterbury, in 1997. Between 1999 and 2005, the Whitefriars Shopping Centre underwent major redevelopment. In 2000, during the redevelopment, a major archaeological project was undertaken by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, known as the Big Dig, which was supported by Channel Four's Time Team.
Since 1987, the Member of Parliament for the Canterbury constituency, which includes Whitstable, has been the Conservative Julian Brazier. At the 2005 general election, the Conservatives won a majority of 7,471 and 44.4% of the vote in the Canterbury constituency. Labour won 28.7% of the vote, Liberal Democrats 21.1%, the Green Party 3.2%, United Kingdom Independence Party 1.9%, and the Legalise Cannabis Alliance 0.7%.
Canterbury, along with Whitstable and Herne Bay, is in the City of Canterbury local government district. The city's urban area consists of the six electoral wards of Barton, Harbledown, Northgate, St Stephens, Westgate, and Wincheap. These wards have eleven of the fifty seats on the Canterbury City Council. Six of these seats are held by the Liberal Democrats, four by the Conservatives and one by Labour.
The city became a county corporate in 1461, and later a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. In 1974 it lost its status as the smallest county borough in England, after the Local Government Act 1972, and came under the control of Kent County Council.
Canterbury is located at (51.275, 1.087) in east Kent, about 55 miles (89 km) east-southeast of London. The coastal towns of Herne Bay and Whitstable are 6 miles (10 km) to the north, and Faversham is 8 miles (13 km) to the northwest. Nearby villages include Rough Common, Sturry and Tyler Hill. The civil parish of Thanington Without is to the southwest; the rest of the city is unparished. Harbledown, Wincheap and Hales Place are suburbs of the city.
The city is on the River Stour or Great Stour, flowing from its source at Lenham north-east through Ashford to the English Channel at Sandwich. The river divides south east of the city, one branch flowing though the city, the other around the position of the former walls. The two branches rejoin or are linked several times, but finally recombine around the town of Fordwich, on the edge of the marshland north east of the city. The Stour is navigable on the tidal section to Fordwich, although above this point canoes and other small craft can be used. Punts and rowed river boats are available for hire in Canterbury.  The geology of the area consists mainly of brickearth overlying chalk. Tertiary sands overlain by London clay form St. Thomas's Hill and St. Stephen's Hill about a mile northwest of the city centre.
|2001 UK Census||Canterbury city||Canterbury district||England|
At the 2001 UK census, the total population of the city's urban area wards was 43,432.
Residents of the city had an average age of 37.1 years, younger than the 40.2 average of the district and the 38.6 average for England. Of the 17,536 households, 35% were one-person households, 39% were couples, 10% were lone parents, and 15% other. Of those aged 16–74 in the city, 27% had a higher education qualification, higher than the 20% national average.
Compared with the rest of England, the city had an above-average proportion of foreign-born residents, at around 12%. Ninety-five percent of residents were recorded as white; the largest minority group was recorded as Asian, at 1.8% of the population. Religion was recorded as 68.2% Christian, 1.1% Muslim, 0.5% Buddhist, 0.8% Hindu, 0.2% Jewish, and 0.1% Sikh. The rest either had no religion, an alternative religion, or did not state their religion.
|Population growth in Canterbury since 1901|
|Source: A Vision of Britain through Time|
Canterbury district retains approximately 4,761 businesses, up to 60,000 full- and part-time employees and was worth £1.3 billion in 2001. This makes the district the second largest economy in Kent. Unemployment in the city has dropped significantly since 2001 owing to the opening of the Whitefriars shopping complex which introduced thousands of job opportunities. In April 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, controversially made a strong speech arguing that salary caps should be implemented to curb the pay of the rich in an attempt to manage the growth of the economy. The city's economy benefits mainly from significant economic projects such as the Canterbury Enterprise Hub, Lakesview International Business Park and the Whitefriars retail development. Tourism contributes £258m to the Canterbury economy and has been a "cornerstone of the local economy" for a number of years; Canterbury Cathedral alone generates over one million visitors a year. Canterbury has a high per capita GDP, it is higher than the Kent average of $42,500 at $51,900 making it one of the wealthiest towns in the South East. The registered unemployment rate as of September 2011 stands at 5.7%.
Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Founded in 597 AD by Augustine, it forms a World Heritage Site, along with the Saxon St. Martin's Church and the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey. With one million visitors per year, it is one of the most visited places in the country. Services are held at the Cathedral three or more times a day.
The Roman Museum houses an in situ mosaic pavement dating from around 300 CE. Surviving structures from the Roman times include Queningate, a blocked gate in the city wall, and the Dane John Mound, once part of a Roman cemetery. The Dane John Gardens were built beside the mound in the 18th century, and a memorial was placed on the mound's summit. A windmill was on the mound between 1731 and 1839.
The ruins of the Norman Canterbury Castle and St Augustine's Abbey are both open to the public. The medieval St Margaret's Church now houses the "The Canterbury Tales", in which life-sized character models reconstruct Geoffrey Chaucer's stories. The Westgate is now a museum relating to its history as a jail. The medieval church of St Alphege became redundant in 1982 but had a new lease of life as the Canterbury Urban Studies Centre, later renamed the Canterbury Environment Centre; the building is used by the King's School. The Old Synagogue at Canterbury, now the King's School Music Room, is one of only two Egyptian Revival synagogues still standing. The city centre contains many timber-framed 16th- and 17th -century houses, however there are far fewer than there were before The Second World War, as many were damaged during the Baedecker Blitz. Many are still standing, including the "Old Weaver's House" used by the Huguenots. St Martin's Mill is the only surviving mill out of the six known to have stood in Canterbury. It was built in 1817 and worked until 1890; it is now a house conversion.
The Museum of Canterbury, houses many exhibits, with one of them being the Rupert Bear Museum. The Herne Bay Times has reported that the Heritage at Risk Register includes 19 listed buildings in Canterbury which need urgent repair but for which the council has insufficient funds.
The city's theatre and concert hall is the
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- Mayors of Canterbury
- Sheriff of Canterbury
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- Catching Lives – local charity supporting the homeless and destitute
- Saint-Omer, France, since 1995
- Wimereux, France, since 1995
- Certaldo, Italy, since 1997
- Vladimir, Russia, since 1997
- Mölndal, Sweden, since 1997
- Tournai, Belgium, since 1998
- Esztergom, Hungary
City to City Partnership
- Reims, France
Canterbury is twinned with the following cities:
People born in Canterbury include the detective Edmund Reid, Christopher Marlowe, TV presenter Fiona Phillips, actor Thomas James Longley, airline entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker, boy singer and actor Joseph McManners, comic book artist Jack Lawrence, and actor Orlando Bloom. Mary Tourtel, the creator of Rupert Bear, and the Victorian animal painter who taught her, Thomas Sidney Cooper. were both born and lived in the city. The cricketer David Gower, physician William Harvey, actress and singer Aruhan Galieva, writer W. Somerset Maugham and film director Michael Powell are among the former pupils of The King's School, Canterbury. Notable alumni of the University of Kent include comedian Alan Davies, singer Ellie Goulding, newspaper editor Rosie Boycott, actor Tom Wilkinson, and Booker Prize winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, and Chris Simmons (best known for playing DC Mickey Webb in ITV's hit police drama, The Bill). In November 2012, Rowan Williams was awarded Freedom of the City for his work as Archbishop of Canterbury between 2003 and 2012.
There are 2 other stations that cover parts of the city. Canterbury Hospital Radio (CHR) serves the patients of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, and Simon Langton Boys School has a radio station, SLBSLive, which can only be picked up on the school grounds. The City receives BBC One South East and ITV Meridian from the main transmitter at Dover, and a local relay situated at Chartham.
CSR 97.4FM, an acronym for "Community Student Radio", broadcasts on 97.4FM from studios at both the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. The station is run by a collaboration of education establishments in the city including the two universities. The transmitter is based at the University of Kent, offering a good coverage of the city. CSR replaced two existing radio stations: C4 Radio, which served Canterbury Christ Church University, and UKC Radio, which served the University of Kent.
KMFM Canterbury broadcasts on 106FM. It was formerly known as KMFM106, and before the KM Group took control it was known as CTFM, based on the local postcode being CT. Previously based in the city, the station's studios and presenters were moved to Ashford in 2008.
Radio and television
Three free weekly newspapers provide news on the Canterbury district: yourcanterbury, the Canterbury Times and Canterbury Extra. The Canterbury Times is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust and has a circulation of about 55,000. The Canterbury Extra is owned by the KM Group and also has a circulation of about 55,000. yourcanterbury is published by KOS Media, which also prints the popular county paper Kent on Sunday. It also runs a website http://www.yourcanterbury.co.uk giving daily updated news and events for the city.
Canterbury's first newspaper was the Kentish Post, founded in 1717. It changed its name to the Kentish Gazette in 1768 and is still being published, claiming to be the country's second oldest surviving newspaper. It is currently produced as a paid-for newspaper produced by the KM Group, based in nearby Whitstable. This newspaper covers the East Kent area and has a circulation of about 25,000.
The city's secondary grammar schools are Barton Court Grammar School, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys and Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School; all of which in 2008 had over 93% of their pupils gain five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths. The non-selective state secondary schools are The Canterbury High School, St Anselm's Catholic School, the Church of England's Archbishop's School, and Chaucer Technology School; all of which in 2008 had more than 30% of their pupils gain five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and maths.
Independent secondary schools include Kent College, St Edmund's School and, what is the oldest school in England, The King's School. St. Augustine established a school shortly after his arrival in Canterbury in 597, and it is from this that The King’s School grew. The documented history of the school only began after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, when the school acquired its present name, referring to Henry VIII. The Kings School in Canterbury is one of the top public schools in the United Kingdom, regularly featuring in the top ten most expensive school fees lists.
The University College for the Creative Arts is the oldest higher education institution in the city, having been founded in 1882 by Thomas Sidney Cooper as the Sidney Cooper School of Art. Near the University of Kent is the Franciscan International Study Centre, a place of study for the worldwide Franciscan Order. Chaucer College is an independent college for Japanese and other students within the campus of the University of Kent. Canterbury College, formerly Canterbury College of Technology, offers a mixture of vocation, further and higher education courses for school leavers and adults.
Canterbury Christ Church University was founded as a teacher training college in 1962 by the Church of England. In 1978 its range of courses began to expand into other subjects, and in 1995 it was given the power to become a University college. In 2005 it was granted full university status, and as of 2007 it had around 15,000 students.
The University of Kent's main campus is situated over 600 acres (243 ha) on St. Stephen's Hill, a mile north of Canterbury city centre. Formerly called the University of Kent at Canterbury, it was founded in 1965, with a smaller campus opened in 2000 in the town of Chatham. As of 2014, it had around 20,000 students.
The city is host to four universities: The University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, the University College for the Creative Arts and most recently The American University - Canterbury, a branch of GAU - Girne American University.
The city has many students as it is home to four universities, together with several other higher education institutions and colleges; at the 2001 census, 22% of the population aged 16–74 were full-time students, compared with 7% throughout England.
Stagecoach in East Kent also run the high profile Canterbury Park and Ride, with the buses having free wi-fi, from the city centre to the rest of the city and Car Parks on the approaches to the city every 8 minutes.
Stagecoach in East Kent also run the special 'Unibus' service, with the buses running on 100% bio fuel and also has free wi-fi, runs from the city centre to the University of Kent every 8 minutes, term time and every 15 minutes at other times. There is also special unirider fares to.
Stagecoach in East Kent is the main bus company in Canterbury. Stagecoach South East has its head offices in the city centre's bus station. The company run frequent local routes around the city as well as long distance services to Ashford for Tenterden, Broadstairs, Deal, Dover, Faversham, Folkestone, Herne Bay, Hythe, Margate, Ramsgate, Sandwich and Whitstable.
The hourly National Express 007 coach service to and from Victoria Coach Station, which leaves from main bus station, is typically scheduled to take two hours. The coach also serves Bluewater, Dover and Hempsted Valley in Kent as well as Towns in London including Lewisham.
Canterbury is by-passed by the A2 London to Dover Road. It is about 45 miles (72 km) from the M25 London orbital motorway, and 61 miles (98 km) from central London. The other main road through Canterbury is the A28 from Ashford to Ramsgate and Margate. The City Council has invested heavily in Park and Ride systems around the City's outskirts and there are three sites: at Wincheap, New Dover Road and Sturry Road. There are plans to build direct access sliproads to and from the London directions of the A2 where it meets the congested Wincheap (at present there are only slips from the A28 to and from the direction of Dover) to allow more direct access to Canterbury from the A2, but these are currently subject to local discussion. In 2011 a third junction was constructed, linking the A28 to the northbound A2; this leaves just the A2 southbound exit missing, but since this would cut across the Park & Ride car park and meet the A28 at an already complicated junction, it is not expected to be added in the near term.
Canterbury has previously been served by two other stations. North Lane Station was the southern terminus of the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway between 1830 and 1846. Canterbury South was on the Elham Valley Railway, which opened in 1890 and closed in 1947. A high-speed train service to London St Pancras via Ashford International started on 13 December 2009. The journey time to London has been reduced to 56 minutes.
Today, Canterbury has two railway stations, Canterbury West and Canterbury East, both operated by Southeastern, the current franchisee for the railways around Canterbury (which are part of the state-controlled national rail network). Canterbury West station, on the South Eastern Railway from Ashford, was opened on 6 February 1846, and on 13 April the line to Ramsgate was completed. Canterbury West is served by high speed (56 minutes) trains to London St. Pancras, slower stopping services to London Charing Cross and London Victoria as well as by trains to Ramsgate and Margate. Canterbury East, the more central of the two stations, was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway on 9 July 1860. Services from London Victoria stop at Canterbury East (journey time around 88 minutes) and continue to Dover. The station car park is currently being refurbished due to an overload of taxis and not enough parking.
Canterbury was the terminus of the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway (known locally as the Crab and Winkle line) which was a pioneer line, opened on 3 May 1830, and finally closed in 1953. Despite claims by the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the Canterbury and Whitstable was the first regular passenger steam railway in the world. The first station in Canterbury was at North Lane.
Sporting activities for the public are provided at the Kingsmead Leisure Centre, which has a 33-metre (108 ft) swimming pool and a sports hall for football, basketball, and badminton.
Canterbury Hockey Club is one of the largest clubs in the country and both men's 1st XI and women's 1st XI compete in the England Hockey League. Former Olympic gold medal winner Sean Kerly also a member of the club.
The Tour de France has visited the city twice. In 1994 the tour passed through, and in 2007 it held the finish for Stage 1.
Canterbury City F.C. reformed in 2007 as a community interest company and currently compete in the Southern Counties East Football League. The previous incarnation of the club folded in 2001. Canterbury RFC were founded in 1926 and became the first East Kent club to achieve National League status and currently play in the fourth tier, National League 2 South.
St Lawrence Ground is notable as one of the two grounds used regularly for first-class cricket that have a tree within the boundary (the other is the City Oval in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa). It is the home ground of Kent County Cricket Club and has hosted several One Day Internationals, including one England match during the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
- Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585), became a lay clerk (singing man) at Canterbury Cathedral c. 1540 and was subsequently appointed a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1543.
- John Ward (1571–1638), born in Canterbury, a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, composed madrigals, works for viol consort, services, and anthems.
- Chapel Royal, who died in Canterbury and was buried in the Cathedral.
- William Flackton (1709–1798), born in Canterbury, a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, was an organist, viola player and composer.
- John Marsh (1752–1828), lawyer, amateur composer and concert organiser, wrote two symphonies for the Canterbury Orchestra before moving to Chichester in 1784.
- West Gallery' hymns and psalm tunes.
- Sir George Job Elvey (1816–1893), organist and composer, was born in Canterbury and trained as a chorister at the Cathedral.
- Alan Ridout (1934–1996) educator and broadcaster, composer of church, orchestral and chamber music.
- Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was appointed an Honorary Fellow of Canterbury Christ Church University at a ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral.
- Many Canterbury Cathedral organists composed services, anthems, hymns, etc.
- Stray Ghost (1987-), British Neo-Classical Composer Anthony Saggers; lived in the city for a period of years, finishing numerous albums including 'Nothing, but Death'.
Composers with an association with Canterbury include
The reggae/ska musician Judge Dread played his last gig at the Penny Theatre. His final words were "Let's hear it for the band." He then went offstage, suffered a major heart attack and died, despite help from both ambulance crews and the audience.
The Canterbury Festival takes place over two weeks in October each year in Canterbury and the surrounding towns. It includes a wide range of musical events ranging from opera and symphony concerts to world music, jazz, folk, etc., with a Festival Club, a Fringe, and Umbrella events. Canterbury also hosts the annual Lounge On The Farm festival in July, which mainly sees performances from rock, indie and dance artists.
The Canterbury Choral Society gives regular concerts in Canterbury Cathedral, specialising in the large-scale choral works of the classical repertory. The Canterbury Orchestra, founded in 1953, is a thriving group of enthusiastic players who regularly tackle major works from the symphonic repertoire. Other musical groups include the Canterbury Singers (also founded in 1953), Cantemus, and the City of Canterbury Chamber Choir. The University of Kent has a Symphony Orchestra, a University Choir, a Chamber Choir, and a University Concert Band and Big Band.
The University of Kent has hosted concerts by bands including Led Zeppelin and The Who. During the late seventies and early eighties the Canterbury Odeon hosted a number of major acts, including The Cure and Joy Division. The Marlowe Theatre is also used for many musical performances, such as Don McLean in 2007, and Fairport Convention in 2008. A regular music and dance venue is the Westgate Hall.
The city gave its name to a musical genre known as the Canterbury Sound or Canterbury Scene, a group of progressive rock, avant-garde and jazz musicians established within the city during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some very notable Canterbury bands were Soft Machine, Caravan, Matching Mole, Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Gilgamesh, Soft Heap, Khan, Camel and In Cahoots. Over the years, with band membership changes and new bands evolving, the term has been used to describe a musical style or subgenre, rather than a regional group of musicians. During the 1970-80's the Canterbury 'Odeon' now the site of the 'New Marlow' played host to many of the Punk and new wave bands of the era these included, The Clash, The Ramones, Blondie, Sham69, Magazine, XTC, Dr Feelgood, Elvis Costello and the attractions, The Stranglers.
The Canterbury Catch Club was a musical and social club which met in the city between 1779 and 1865. The club (male only) met weekly in the winter. It employed an orchestra to assist in performances in the first half of the evening. After the interval, the members sang catches and glees from the club's extensive music library (now deposited at the Cathedral Archives in Canterbury).
As was common in English cities in the Middle Ages, Canterbury employed a town band known as the Waits. There are records of payments to the Waits starting from 1402, though they probably existed earlier than this. The Waits were disbanded by the city authorities in 1641 for 'misdemeanors' but were reinstated in 1660 when they played for the visit of King Charles II on his return from exile. Waits were eventually abolished nationally by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. A modern early music group called The Canterbury Waits has revived the name.
The Reformation brought a period of decline in the Cathedral's music which was revived under Dean Thomas Neville in the early 17th century. Neville introduced instrumentalists into the Cathedral's music who played cornett and sackbut, probably members of the city's band of waits. The Cathedral acquired sets of recorders, lutes and viols for the use of the choir boys and lay-clerks.
, who was appointed master of the new Lady Chapel choir formed in 1438. Leonel Power One of the earliest named composers associated with Canterbury Cathedral was 
The redeveloped Marlowe Theatre is (at the time of writing) the largest theatre in the region, offering touring productions and concerts. The programme includes musicals, drama, ballet, contemporary dance, classical orchestras, opera, children's shows, pantomime, stand-up comedy and concerts. There is also a second performance space called The Marlowe Studio, dedicated to creative activity and the programming of new work. The Marlowe Theatre can be seen from many points throughout the city centre, considering it is the only modern and tall structure.
The Marlowe Theatre
The oldest surviving Tudor theatre in Canterbury is now The Shakespeare, formerly known as Casey's. There are several theatre groups based in Canterbury, including the University of Kent Students' Union's T24 Drama Society, The Canterbury Players and Kent Youth Theatre.
Besides the two theatres, theatrical performances take place at several areas of the city, for instance the Cathedral and St Augustine's Abbey. The premiere of Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot took place at Canterbury Cathedral.
The Marlowe Theatre has now been completely rebuilt, fully opening in October 2011.  The old Marlowe Theatre was located in St Margaret's Street and housed a repertory theatre. The Gulbenkian Theatre, at the University of Kent, also serves the city, housing also a cinema and café.