This magnificent bit of Medieval architecture is the finest gatehouse still standing in England.
At more than 60 feet tall it is still hugely imposing: imagine the city walls still standing and the river Stour acting as its natural moat.
The Romans first walled this city, and the west gate was the most important gate even at that time because it led to the main London road (as well as roads to many other parts of Kent). What you see now is the Medieval replacement to that Roman gate (with later additions), dating from around 1380. The building is faced in Kentish ragstone, has gunloops (a fifteenth-century addition) and originally had stout wooden gates, a portcullis and a drawbridge over the Stour: it was, more or less, a mini Norman keep.
There has been a museum (of weaponry, in the main) inside the tower since 1906. Access to the museum also gives you access to the higher levels from which you can get a good view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The tower was closed for quite some time in 2011, following the tragic early death of the lessee. Canterbury council re-opened it in May 2012, opening every day between 10 and 5, but only until September 2012. You'll need to check the website below for up-to-date information about proposed opening times for 2013.
Whilst I was visiting a new traffic management scheme was being tried out, with no access to traffic through the tower itself (there is room for a double-decker bus to pass through the gateway). Whilst not popular with local businesses the closure certainly makes the tower exterior much easier to explore as well as substantially reducing the amount of traffic on St Dunstan's Street and North Street.
Aside from the Cathedral, the Westgate gatehouse built around 1377 is Canterbury's most impressive landmark. The gate is the last survivor of Canterbury's seven medieval gates. It is built of Kentish ragstone and extrmely well presserved. It has stood on guard for six centuries over the road to and from London. The gate has seen hundreds of thousands of medieval pilgrims pass through it,on their way to visit Saint Thomas Becket's shrine.
As you head out through the gate, away from the Cathedral, there is a door that leads to a spiral staircase that will take you up to the museum. The stairway is well lit with a rope handrail to help you along. Once in the museum, there are a number of displays of ranging from the english civil war thru World War II. These displays include guns, arnaments, armour, and prison accoutrements. There is also a display of a medieval jail complete with a stoic prisoner. Trek up to the roof for a great view of the city.
Adults £1.25, Concessions and Children £0.75.
Group rates: £1.12/ £0.65.
Museum passport available: £6.20/ £3.70
Mon - Sat 11:00 to 12:30 13:30 to 15:30 Christmas Day, Boxing Day closed New Year's Day, Good Friday closed Last admission 12.15pm and 3.15pm
This is one of the original ways into Canterbury and is also part of city wall which used to go right around the city. It was built by Archbishop Sudbury in 1380 and was used as a prison for many decades. Now it is a musium and you can go to the top to take some stuning photos of Canterbury. The traffic still flows through the gate today, in fact i used to work just down the road from here and my van just used to squeeze through, but on a couple of occations i have hit the wall and lost my mirrors hehehehehehehe, but don't tell the boss
After the Cathedral, the West Gate is Canterbury's next eye-catching landmark. It has stood for six centuries on guard over the road to and from London. Hundreds of thousands of medieval pilgrims,on their way to visit Saint Thomas Becket's shrine, passed through this gateway into the city.
West Gate is well preserved. The spiral access stair is brightly lit, and a rope handrail guides you safely and easily to the Museum displays and souvenir desk above the road.
On display are guns and armaments, from the Civil War to World War Two, used by the defenders of Canterbury. Prison cells can be visited and there is replica armour to try on for children. You can see through the murder holes onto the road below.
The Westgate Tower is huge and stands at one of the main entrances to the city centre, during medieval times this was the main point to enter the city.
There is a museum at the top of the spiral staircase which houses things dating from the civil war.
The views across the city are superb from the top.
Well worth a visit!
This place is really beautiful , there are medieval towers and walls around , and a little Venice that runs thru ...and whats more a perfect garden with so much bloom.
The cottages across the river is really unique ...sit down and enjoy the breathtaking scenery . Its a Must Must see place in Canterbury.
Can catch a gondola ride as well.
The 14th century Westgate stands on the site of a Roman gate. It is a good example of a medieval gateway still surviving today. Although it was built as a fortification against the French during the Hundred years war it was actually used as the City prison until 1829. The Westgate now houses a museum which shows illustrations of the city defences.
It is part of the old wall that once surounded the city. Only parts of it still exist. This gate is the largest surviving city gate in England. Through the present arch passed the Canterbury Pilgrims for one and a half centuries, Geoffrey Chaucer among the first.