Suggestions for Canterbury/Kent?

Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:18 PM
  #1  
CJS
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Suggestions for Canterbury/Kent?

We're planning a week in October, with a self-catering stay in Canterbury. To preserve our own lives and those of others, we do not drive in England . . . so we will use public transportation.

I would love to hear what folks would recommend as Canterbury and Kent things to do . . . and "worthy" day trips from Canterbury.

I look forward to hearing from Anglophiles and, of course actual "Anglos"!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:29 PM
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Kent is, of course, prime sightseeing territory, with Canterbury at the heart for the cathedral and its precincts.

For stately homes there are Knole and Penshurst Place; then come Leeds Castle and Hever Castle (Anne Boleyn), followed by the interesting Igtham Mote.

Chiddingstone Castle has its own National Trust village; Sissinghurst Castle is noted for its gardens. Royal Tunbridge Wells has its 18th-century spa associations (the Bath of the woutheast), and Rochester jas a fine cathedral. Then there is Dover...and so much more.

In your one week you can cover quite a bit of ground.



Then there are Chartwell ( Winston Churchill
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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 06:48 PM
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Besides all the places Underhill mentions, my short list would also include:

Deal and Walmer Castles
Rye
Scotney Castle/Gardens
Bodiam Castle
Port Lympne wild animal Park/gardens/castle
Byham Abbey
Great Dixter
One of the narrow gauge railways.

You can get to most of Underhill's and my list by public transport. But it will be time consuming. I suggest hiring a car/driver at least a couple of days.

For instance - Sissinghurst, Scotney Castle, Bodiam and Byland Abbey are all just a few miles apart. They would be an easy but full day by car - by train/bus you'd be lucky to get to more than one of them.

Same for Dover, Deal, Walmer and Port Lympne

Or Hever, Penshurst, Chartwell, Knole - all are near each othere and easy to get from one to the other by car in a few minutes. But waiting for buses will make a combo very difficult.

So if you are dead set against driving (BTW, it is easy as long as you stay out of the big cities) consider hiring a driver for at least a few days . . . . .
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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 08:11 PM
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Before you schedue too tightly, look up and see which venues/national trust, etc, are open on which days. We missed Chartwell, and maybe a couple of others because they were closed on one of the weekdays we were in the area. If you like gardens/literature at all, make Sissinghurst a priority.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:43 PM
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CJS
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Thanks for the suggestions. I know driving would really liberate us, but "dead set" may well describe me and residents of Kent were I to try it.

More to the point, I have often heard, "oh, just hire a driver"--and it sounds good. How do you do that? Just ask a cab driver locally? Surf the net for "car hirings in Kent"? Is there a "going rate"?
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Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:56 PM
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don't overlook Dover, a busy port town with a fantastic castle looming over the Channel - can see to France on a clear day from Dover.
Chilham, a short train hop from Canterbury is a preserved old town with some kind of castle.
Rye - another short train hop is one of UK's finest old towns.
So much to do in this area.
Bodiam Castle, Leeds Castle in nearby Maidstone (actually in Bersted (sp?) a few miles out of Maidstone - Bersted i think has a train station too. Walks? Nice one between Sandwich and Deal, going through the grounds of a famous golf course where British Open has been held - footpaths so no interloping on course and goes along cliffs for a bit.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:53 PM
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CJS: Many local taxi companies will quote you for all day or 1/2 day driver-guide services. And there are locals who do sightseeing/guide services w/o being actual cab companies.

You can do a google search - or the TIC (Tourist Information Center) in Canterbury can hook you up with one after you are there.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 03:50 PM
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You can usually get a car and driver from the major car-rental agencies. Try Godfrey Davis and EutoEurope first.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:59 PM
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We spent four very enjoyable days in Rye in June. Be sure to go there. It is an easy train ride from Canterbury. You can also ride the train from there to Battle, the site of the Battle of Hastings.

While we were there , we went to Great Dixter, a very interesting Elizabethan manor house with a variety of interesting gardens- topiary, wildflower area, water garden, and border gardens.

We also went to Bodiam Castle- really a great castle with a moat.

We did not drive, but we managed to see all we possibly had time for using a combination of train, bus, taxi, and a couple of times, generous offers of rides from our bed and breakfast hostesses.

We stayed for three nights in the little town of Faversham which is a ten minute train ride away from Canterbury.

We spent a whole Sunday at Canterbury Cathedral, starting with the Communion Service. It was announced that it was Open Garden Sunday, so we had tea in a couple of the Cathedral gardens, and visited the other four gardens there. Then we went to the lovely Evensong service.

We got great information by going to the Faversham website. I signed up to receive snail mail info, and within a few weeks had received many pamphlets about Kent, Canterbury, area gardens and historic sites. The Calendars of activities were especially helpful. We were able to schedule our trip so we could attend local festivals and special events.

This is what we enjoyed most about our trip. We were usually the only Americans at these events and the local people were very friendly to us. We went to a series of maybe six garden parties for the Faversham Secret Garden weekend, walking along with a group of a dozen locals. One of the women, a retired nanny( much nicer than the nannies on the TV shows) invited us to spend the evening at her house. She reminded me of my grandmother!

We didn't go to Rochester Cathedral, but it is just a short train ride from Canterbury.

Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 4th, 2005, 07:02 AM
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I suggest you consider a daytrip to Brighton.
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Old Aug 4th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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We also made an enjoyable day trip by train to visit friends in London.
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Old Aug 4th, 2005, 12:52 PM
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And you could day trip to Brussels or Paris for $94 by taking a train to nearby Ashford International and catching the Eurostar. Actually may be a few quid cheaper from Ashford - note these tickets must be reserved way in advance to guarantee availability. Otherwsie walk up fares can be shockingly high.
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Old Aug 4th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Or in the same vein, take the train to nearby Dover and then day trip via Hovercraft to Calais, France - see a wee bit of France and get the unforgettable experience of seeing the White Cliffs of Dover from the sea. day return fares can be very cheap.
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Old Aug 5th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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CJS
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Thanks to all for very good ideas. A couple of especially intriguing ones popped out from all of your really helpful suggestions. As a golf fan, I thought that seeing Royal St. Georges as we walk near Sandwich sounded really good. Also, Saraho's wonderfully detailed (both in the sense of extensive and delightful to read!) account of Faversham was great. We stayed a week in Ely a few years back and had the same sort of relaxed yet invigorating stay--good to be reminded to focus on one spot and just soak it in. Of course, experiencing a cathedral for its purpose beyond "tourist site" is a great reminder. Thanks for that.

The suggestions about getting access to a car so we can do more--well, these were helpful too. Hooray for Fodors, for a tidy little forum on my question, and thanks to all! I will now go do my homework--which, of course, is half the fun of travel.
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Old Aug 5th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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I stayed for ten years, once a year for several days in Faversham - a totally untouristed town, for good reason, but a delightful place because of that. Kind of grimy brewery town - Shepherd's Neame brewery, or whatever it's called these days, dominates the town, at least smell-wise. I like these backwaters.
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Old Aug 8th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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PalQ, you are right about Faversham being a brewery dominated town. There are very lively pubs on every corner and lots of young men roaming the streets, presumably going from pub to pu that's just our guess).

We actually stayed over one of the pubs, the one right by the railway station. It was quite a revelation and a total contrast to the delightful bed and breakfasts where we stayed in the other towns! It was definitely what you would call a learning experience- both for us and our pub landlady who had obviously never experienced guests from the US before!

But it certainly served our purpose of a location that was convenient for both the train and the downtown. It also was quite a conversation piece for the locals at the garden parties. They all looked somewhat horrified at the idea of our staying there and immediately suggested other very nice B and B's in Faversham for us to try. The pleasant old nanny even invited us to spend the night at her house!
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Old Aug 8th, 2005, 12:16 PM
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Hmm.. how did the icon get in my post? That's funny- it's even somewhat appropriate!
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Old Aug 8th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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Saraho: I know that train station well - nice old stone and brick Victorian-like train shed - when you said that i too reacted like the locals and then thought 'i'll have to keep that B&B in mind' when i, a rail fan, needs a base for Kent - a wonderful area with so much to see and do. Faversham is a great base! I also liked the quaint old port - now miles inland but still a few boats tied up. Nice walk out into the marshes. Margate just across the way is one of UK's more hopping seaside resorts on bank holidays and weekends. Remember tons of young 20s types girls there in one pub with hats saying "I'm an alcoholic, buy me a drink!" Faversham brings back fond memories.
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Old Aug 8th, 2005, 03:40 PM
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saraho: that pretty fitting smiley face was because there wasn't a space betwewen the b and the parentheses

Gotta be careful when using lots of different puncuation -- happens to me all the time.

For a complete list of smileys you can check www.fodors.com/forums/smileys/
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Old Aug 9th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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Just wanted to mention that we found that staying in the towns smaller than Canterbury was much less expensive. Faversham Railway Hotel - 50 pounds a night including ensuite bath and breakfast.

Rye - Culpepper B and B - 54 pounds a night for the most beautiful and luxurious B and B that I have ever stayed in.

Much Hadham - where we had a wonderful time ancestor hunting - Hall Cottage B and B for 60 pounds - including a pleasant landlady who made us a very nice breakfast and gave us a ride to see Henry Moore's sculptures on his farm and a ride to catch the train in the next town. She was also the most enthusiatic gardener that I have ever met!

Janis, thanks for the neat page on how to make icons.

Makes me remember all the wondrful cups of tea we had in England!
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