The time has come for me to share my favourite place for bookshops, Canterbury. Though a Kentish Maid, rather than a Maid of Kent, I have not always loved Canterbury which seems quite odd to me now because I absolutely love going there these days. It is a city with such history and with links to so many famous people, Kings and Queens amongst them. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is all about the different people that made pilgrimages to the great Cathedral set at the cities heart. Canterbury is a pivotal city in the history of our Country and visiting allows you to explore a Roman street, see the tomb of The Black Prince or walk the city walls. My particular favourite is The Canterbury Tales Exhibition which recreates Chaucer’s Canterbury, very well I think. I also highly recommend the Canterbury Ghost Tour which is an evening stroll around the city learning some of its history.
But, I digress, there are also quite a few excellent bookshops. As it should be for a thriving university city.
- The Chaucer Bookshop is really only a recent discovery for me though I have long gazed through the windows and longed to go in! Finally, last year, I summoned up the courage as I was searching for a copy of Culpepper Herbal. The welcome I received from the owner was wonderful. When he couldn’t find me a copy he sat me down with another amazingly old and beautiful book and left me leafing through it whilst he helped others. This lovely bookshop houses fabulous antiquarian tomes alongside good cheap classic paperbacks. I bought a pile today and barely spent £30. This bookshop is set on two floors with clear category areas. Fiction is upstairs and downstairs so do look at every section but you will also find an excellent section on Poetry, Crime Fiction and Travel with many more to choose from. They do take bank cards and have been tremendously friendly every time I have visited.
2. The Oxfam Bookshop in the main High Street is a regular draw for me. Though a small shop it is well laid out and there is an, albeit small, esoteric section which usually delivers. Other favourites include the children’s section and the Classic Literate section though they have a music section that I always see people visiting when I am in there. I never leave empty handed and the prices are very reasonable .
3. Burgate Books is a bookshop run by a local Kent charity – Pilgrims Hospice. It’s a little bit out of the way but worth the walk and isn’t really that far from the Cathedral. This book shop is set on two floors with a fantastic section downstairs of books not yet catalogued – like hunting for treasure! I have found some real gems in here over the years and today found a lovely copy of some poems of Emily Dickinson. I have been searching for some for weeks yet she is always missing from the poetry bookshelves – obviously very popular. So for less than £2 I have finally got one.
4. Waterstones I wouldn’t normally add a Waterstones in my blog but I really really love this branch. It is a really special shop, just has a buzz about it. It is set over three floors and has a coffee shop on the first floor. They run author talks here frequently, this is where I saw Matt Haig recently. The author talks are listed in the window by the front door. There’s even, especially for me I think, a second hand bookcase on the top floor. With lots of lovely book bags to choose from and some rather gorgeously bound books there’s just so much to look at. Love this shop, wish I could work there!
There are, of course, lots of seperate charity shops to hunt through if you have the energy though you can choose to recuperate in one of the many coffee shops or restaurants. It is definitely a great city with so much to do and see. Let me know if you have visited and what you thought of the bookshops.