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Explore Canterbury Through The Ages

As always, the Canterbury Festival makes the very most of the city’s historical connections in addition to shedding new light on existing national and international happenings in the past. From talks to drama and local walks, explore new visions of well-known, and some lesser-known, people and events in company that is both knowledgeable and entertaining.

The Festival starts with a parade through Canterbury city centre that explores the city’s rich medieval history in Thomas Becket’s anniversary year with music, dancing and many colourful characters. Local sites will be open throughout the afternoon with craft activities and performances. More recent history is presented with a moving and sensitive portrayal of Clementine Churchill in Mrs Churchill – My Life with Winston. Find out whether the Churchill of the House of Commons was as grumpy and irascible in his home life.

Festival Talks are at the centre of our historical presentations this year. Canterbury Christ Church University hosts a series of free online talks during the Festival celebrating Kent’s rich heritage in photography, poetry, history and archaeology.

Marc Morris considers the history of Britain between the fifth and eleventh century in The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England. Expect a story of a journey from warlords to kings and a single, unified nation in this compelling talk. Edith Harold, a Canterbury property owner from the time of Edward the Confessor, has her story told by David Reekie in Edith Swan-neck. Also known as Edith the Fair, this is a woman with several important local connections and her story is set in the context of the Norman Conquest and the wider story of Anglo-Saxon women.

The fascinating architectural history of Canterbury is examined in Canterbury Take Care! A distinguished panel discusses this and current plans for new development in the city. Peter Williams explores incidents and personalities that have shaped our contemporary world in Being There: Titanic, Marlon Brando and the Luger Pistol. Considering lessons associated with many diverse and significant events over seventy years, fresh light is cast on some of the most controversial areas of human activity. Further recollections are made by Christian Lamb, one of the last surviving Wren officers to have served throughout World War 2 in Beyond the Sea: A Wren at War. Rising through the ranks to Third Officer plotting the progress of the Royal Navy’s ships and subsequently posted to COHQ in London, Christian’s story, told in conversation with Simon Robinson, is truly remarkable.

University of Cambridge architect and architectural historian Timothy Brittain-Catlin draws examples from Kent and further afield in Edwardian Houses: Old-New and New-Old, a consideration of the unusual way Edwardian architects looked at and worked with historical buildings. Finally, for the complete history of the universe, no less, look no further than Rutherford and Fry’s Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything. This is a talk which skips over some of the boring parts to celebrate the weirdness of humans and sets out on a journey from the origins of time and space. Truly unmissable.

There is also a full selection of walks during the Festival many of which draw on the rich historical heritage of Canterbury and the surrounding areas. For details, see the Festival website.

Full details and dates of Christ Church online talks are available in the Centre for Kent History and Heritage blog (