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Suggested itinarary for schools and educational groups.
The Westgate Gardens can be found close to the City centre, just next to the West Gate Tower.
The eleven acres of public gardens provide an ideal setting for a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Stour, while the less energetic can sit back, unwind and absorb the tranquil beauty of the garden and its wildlife.
The meandering river provides the perfect environment for swans, ducks and moorhens to settle and raise their young. In the summer, the garden provides an ideal setting for open air events, exhibitions or as a picnic area for organised groups.
Westgate Gardens - a brief history
In 1886, Stephen Williamson, a prominent Canterbury businessman and owner of the tannery, bought Tower House. Two ornate Victorian wings were added in 1870 but taken down to provide a suitable setting for the riverside walk and pleasure gardens. He and his family lived there happily from 1886 until 1935 and cultivated the gardens into what you see today.
In 1936, his grandson Stephen Williamson and his wife, Catherine Ellise Williamson, gave the house and gardens to the City Corporation. During this time, Catherine was a City councillor and was responsilble for the revelopment of the house and gardens in conjunction with the City architect. Catherine Williamson subsequently became Canterbury's first woman mayor and served for two years from 1938 to 1940. The deed which preserves the site as a public space and garden for the benefit of Canterbury's residents is still upheld by the present day council.
What to see-
Tower House is today used as the administrative office for the Lord Mayor of Canterbury and is not open to the general public. It is built around one of the bastions situated around the city walls and is built out of 14th century reconstructed flint on Roman foundations.
The 200 year old and 25 foot wide and Oriental Plane is (Platanus Orientals) is rumoured to contain a circular iron seat which used to stand around it. Other plants worth looking out for are the Copper Beeches amid the Magnolia Stellata.
The Norman archway and other medieval ruins probably taken by the Victorians from St Augustine's Abbey and used as grand garden ornaments can still be seen today.
The war memorials of the Burma Star Association and the Italy Star Association.
The site of the foundations of the London Gate of the Roman City of Canterbury (Durovernum Cantiancorum). Beside the River Stour and West Gate Tower in Canterbury these formal gardens have spectacular displays of flowers throughout the year. This site has been a public space since the Middle Ages, although late Iron Age and early Roman pottery has been found on the site.
Westgate Grove, Canterbury, CT1 2DB
See location on Google maps.
Map reference: TR 144579
Lat: 51.28069 Long: 1.07413
10 minutes walk from the main bus station. 5 minutes walk from Canterbury West
Parking : with charge
Public Transport : 1 mile from Canterbury West station
Play area for children called Toddler's Cove.