Our first fundraiser of the year is Georgian Canterbury with Doreen Rosman on Thursday 26 May, 4pm at St Peter’s Methodist Church. Below is a little taster of the event and a spotlight on just how much Canterbury changed during this time.
When Jane Austen paid one of her occasional visits to Canterbury and JMW Turner sketched the Christ Church Gate, the city was a lively market town, the hub of East Kent’s flourishing hop trade. Local farmers came week by week to buy and sell goods and livestock, while numerous stage coaches stopped at city inns, carrying travellers to and from London, Dover and the continent.
Like many other towns, Canterbury aspired to be a recreational centre, providing the leisured élite with assembly rooms, a theatre, pleasure gardens, annual race meetings, and even health-giving mineral springs. Entrepreneur and benefactor, James Simmons, turned the wasteland of the Dane John Fields into new public gardens.
Well-to-do householders built elegant brick residences or gave their old timber-framed houses a face-lift by cladding them with ‘mathematical tiles’. City gates which impeded traffic were demolished. These changes reinforced Canterbury’s position as the leading town of East Kent but it no longer had the national status it enjoyed in medieval times – and never gained the social eminence of its upstart neighbour, Tunbridge Wells.
Doreen Rosman, whose new book ‘Canterbury since 1500: the story of a city and its people’ will appear later this year, will explore such topics in a talk preceded by tea and home-made cakes. Join us to enjoy them and find out more about this fascinating period in our city’s history.