Canterbury Westgate Towers and City Gaol



Westgate, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2BQ

Tel: +44 01227 789576

Canterbury Westgate Towers and City Gaol


NEW The latest attraction to open in Canterbury.

A visit to the Canterbury Westgate Towers now incorporating the former Victorian City Gaol and the contemporary City Gaol Café is a 'must' for visitors to Canterbury. With fine views from the battlements across the city roofscape, the history of England's finest remaining gatehouse is truly fascinating.

These mighty towers have greeted visitors reaching the end of the London to Canterbury road for over 600 years. Thousands of medieval pilgrims including those immortalised in Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales' have passed through this gateway on their journey to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

Located alongside and linked by a high level bridge stands the former Victorian prison, with more than five centuries of history between them, the two buildings have intriguing stories to tell. These stories include the very birth of law and order and government as we know it. They involve rebellions, executions and indescribable torment as well as the defence of Canterbury against the recurring threat of invasion.

The Westgate Towers are well preserved and entry via a stone spiral staircase leads to a Museum with displays of guns and armaments from the Civil War to World War II, visit the old cells including the one occupied by prisoner James and look through the murder holes on to the road below. A short climb up to the battlements provides great views over the 130 acre city centre still encircled by the defensive walls laid out by the Romans. Replica armour is available for children to try on and brass rubbings can be made and taken home as souvenirs.

Take the overhead bridge constructed in 1829 to link the Towers to the Victorian City Gaol now open for visitors to experience for the first time in over 100 years. Here lost doorways have been discovered and opened and the felon cells can now be viewed revealing an excellent example of the enlightened reforms of the Victorian prison movement.

Descend the stairs to the City Gaol Café located in the former felons exercise yard where morning coffee, lunches and teas are served. A range of daily lunchtime specials are available using locally sourced produce all freshly prepared by our chef.

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Map & Directions

Road Directions

10 minutes walk from the main bus station. 5 minutes walk from Canterbury West

Public Transport Directions

Nearest station: Canterbury West

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