This is one of the city’s showpiece gardens, admired and enjoyed by residents and visitors. The river, with its ever-present ducks and summertime punts, is just one of the features which makes Westgate Gardens special.
It is situated alongside Westgate Towers, the city’s 600-year-old gatehouse, and has been a public open space since the Middle Ages, making it one of England’s oldest parks. Part of the gardens is an official ancient monument site because it covers the remains of the old Roman wall and London road gate.
There’s a Norman archway, but it was probably moved there from St Augustine’s Abbey in Victorian times.
It has a 200-year-old Oriental plane tree – the one with the huge trunk – which is believed to be the oldest specimen in the country. It is rumoured that the trunk has actually engulfed a metal seat which once encircled it.
There are memorials to those who died in the Burma and Italian campaigns of the Second World War. Imposing Tower House, at the city centre end of the gardens, is built on Roman foundations.
This house was once the family home of the Williamsons, owners of Canterbury’s historic tannery, and is now the offices of the Lord Mayor. The Williamson family lived in Tower House from 1886 and created the picturesque gardens and riverside walks we appreciate today.
In 1936 Stephen Williamson and his wife Catherine gave the house and gardens to the corporation on condition they continued to be used for the benefit of residents.
Catherine later became Canterbury’s first woman mayor.
- See more pictures of this area
- View a film of Westgate Gardens in 1940
- Read more about the council’s parks and open spaces
- Test your knowledge of the area with our Westgate Parks Quiz
Underpass is horrible!
From Sarah Lipscombe
I think the improvements are a great idea and much needed, we love walking through the Westgate Gardens and going to the Toddlers Cove playground, but the underpass is horrible and for a long time put me off even going there. Read more comments