I grew up in a small village in Kent, and although I now live in Berkshire, I do love going back there to visit my family. Kent is great for its countryside, but unfortunately it isn’t rife with bookshops (surprising really, given that the largest secondhand bookshop in England is in Rochester). However, there are a few spots in Kent which have some lovely bookish places to explore, and one of them in Canterbury. With its famous cathedral and rich history, including Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, it’s a lovely place to visit, especially now you know there are all these literary delights to visit too.
The Chaucer Bookshop
6 Beer Cart Ln, Canterbury CT1 2NY
The Chaucer Bookshop is a business which opened in 1956 and is situated in a beautiful 18th century building a few minutes walk from the main high street, and is very close to the cathedral. The shop specialises in rare and second-hand books and also sells wrapping paper and gift cards. There are two floors to explore and books just about everywhere (including piled up on the stairs). Inside there are beautiful collections of fiction books and literary criticism, and while there I picked up a copy of Dr Johnson which is a collection of prose and poetry put together by Mona Wilson. I loved their collections as well; there were some beautiful Charles Dickens and Shakespeare sets as well as some old children’s books with illustrations on the spine. Whether you buy something or not, this place is delightful to look around.
10B Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HG
Located just outside the main high street of Canterbury with a lovely large display in its window, Burgate Books is a Pilgrims Hospice charity bookshop which stocks books of just about every genre. To the left of the shop, there are other Pilgrims Hospice shops with clothes, games, and other bits to buy as well. Burgate Books has two floors inside and includes sections of fiction, classic, biographies, and crafts, (which was great for me!) In fact, they have over 5,000 titles in store. There was loads of choice, and I loved how haphazard the books were organised. While there, I picked up The Last Act of Love (a non-fiction book exploring grief) which I am very excited to read!
6–8 Rose Ln, Canterbury CT1 2SJ
I honestly love the aesthetic of this Waterstone’s (even if I am irked by the lack of apostrophe) – with three floors, a cafe, and some cosy reading spots, this is one of my favourite of the chain’s stores. There are thousands of books to browse through, as is with every Waterstone’s, but I find this one particularly compelling for the little reading spot on the third floor. When I visited most recently, there was a chess set in the middle of two armchairs (see the picture below). I also like this bookshop because of the stairwell; written all over the walls are signatures from authors who have visited – most notably Sebastian Faulks, Kate Atkinson, and J.K. Rowling.
51 St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2BE
There’s always room in my travel guides for charity shops, because, let’s face it, new books are great, but with the size of our tbrs, who can afford £8.99 per book!? This Oxfam bookshop in Canterbury was potentially the busiest Oxfam I have ever visited; there were books lining both walls and loads of people rifling through all the titles. Situated right on the high street, it’s in a prime location for everyone to walk in and have a browse. As expected, there were books from every genre here, and I particularly liked their section of literary criticism. I nearly bought some books here, but resisted the urge as I had already bought two other books that day (although, in hindsight, you really should buy them in charity bookshops because you might not seem them again!)
Alice and the Hatter
29A St. Margarets Street, Canterbury CT1 2TG
The Canterbury Tales Attraction
St. Margaret’s Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2TG
And that concludes my Canterbury travel guide! Do let me know if there are any ones I’ve missed, and I hope you can give Canterbury a visit, because it really is a great place for bibliophiles!