Canterbury gains new heritage site

FOLLOWING nearly a year in the making, the Canterbury Westgate Towers have been re-opened and reconnected – for the first time in over 130 years – with the Victorian City Gaol to create a new heritage attraction.

A view of the newly-reopened gaol, towers and cafe

A view of the newly-reopened gaol, towers and cafe

The largest medieval gatehouse in England, the towers have stood for six centuries on the site of the former Roman Gateway.
Visitors enter via the winding stone staircase to reach the Westgate Museum, located in the guard chamber between the towers, housing arms and armour, prison shackles and handcuffs from the English Civil War to World War II. There are also fine views across the city from the battlements.
The adjacent Victorian Gaol is reached via an overhead bridge constructed in 1829 to link the Towers to the Gaol. Here, lost doorways have been discovered and re-opened, and the felons cells can be viewed for the first time revealing excellent examples of the enlightened reforms of the Victorian prison movement.
The former felons exercise yard on the ground floor is now the glass fronted City Gaol Cafe, serving morning coffee, lunches and cream teas.

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