grapes in Harry Stammers' 1959 window
Our 5* home-from-home holiday has included a day in Canterbury where the theme turned out to be suitably Garden of England.
There are cathedrals, and then there's Canterbury Cathedral. It's in a league of its own. Ancientness, immensity, spectacularity, steps, height, history, stained glass, carvings, crypt, cloisters, memorials, chapels: it's got it all and more. No wonder it's @No1Cathedral on Twitter. Although much glass has been lost over the centuries, there is still some of the most incredible medieval 'story' glass to be seen anywhere in the world (with an awful lot of people in beds and others with fantastically expressive faces and gestures) and a wonderful post-war window by the incomparable Harry Stammers. There is also an excellent exhibition in the magnificent Chapterhouse where you can get close to glass that is so old and so richly interesting, it bends your mind. It requires more than one visit to take it all in; just as well your ticket gets you in for 12 months if you do Gift Aid. (I've learned through experience at Wells Cathedral to always check a cathedral's closures page before setting off.)
modern glass in the cloisters
If nothing else, have a look at the quite barmy Gothic/Jacobean/Arts & Crafts exterior of The Beaney House which opened in 1899 and makes Liberty in London look positively tame. Have a peak inside at the equally decorative interior (etched glass, unusual C17 stained glass fragment window on the enormous staircase, wrought iron balusters, mosaic floor, tiles, beautiful galleries) and the collections.
For someone with a bit of thing about railways, railway stations, railway buildings, the idea of eating in an old goods shed overlooking an 1846 neo-Classical station and a railway line to London is nothing short of brilliant. Especially if there is also a butcher, a baker, and a greengrocer selling local Kent produce in there, too. We turned up at Rafael's Restaurant without a booking and struck gold.
plums in the cloisters
fruit in Ervin Bossanyi's window (late 1950s)
It's so good to see that big, sweet, tasty cherries are still being grown in the Garden of England (they seemed to be in decline in recent years) and, in season, are on sale on the streets of Canterbury together with local strawberries and gooseberries (and lots of good French fruit, too). Big bags came home with us.
blurred cherries in the cloisters
There we are. All you need to know for a last-minute trip to the ideal destination for a greengrocer, fruit-lover, stained-glass enthusiast, book-reader, seed-sower, gardener, and/or train-spotter.