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Medieval Places in England / Canterbury

Did you know there are places where you can still see buildings that were used during the time when knights lived? Harvey and his friends are on an expedition to medieval England!

England has a long history of kings, queens, and the castles they built, just like King David built a palace to live in! Here are some of the cool places Harvey and his friends are planning to visit in England.

Dover Castle

Dover Castle is one of England’s oldest castles. Before it was a stone castle, it was a wooden fortress built by people called the Britons. In 1066, a man named William the Conqueror, who believed he was the rightful king, invaded England with his army. After winning an important battle where the king was killed, William marched to the fortress at Dover, captured and burned it. Once he had taken control of it, he had it repaired. It was rebuilt in stone about a hundred years later, in the 1180s. Dover castle has 14 towers, and it was one of the first to have concentric walls (two circular walls, with one inside the other).

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village

Want to know how the people who weren't kings, queens, or knights lived? The village at West Stow is a recreation of a village where the common people would have lived during medieval times. The houses were made of whatever they could find in the woods around them... fallen logs, branches, mud, and a bush called furze. The common people were called peasants, and they grew all their own food or raised the animals that provided the food. They also hunted, but that wasn't their main source of food, and they could only hunt in certain places because some hunting grounds were reserved for the wealthy people.

Whorlton Old Church

Whorlton was once a busy village, where people went about their daily lives during medieval times. The Old Church (also known as the Holy Cross Church) was originally built about 1000 years ago! Most of it is in ruins now, but the main gathering area, called the chancel, is still standing. A tower is also still standing, which was added to the church during the 1400’s.

Mountfitchet Castle

Mountfitchet Castle was built in 1066, when a military leader named William the Conqueror invaded. It’s an example of what is called a motte-and-bailey castle. A motte is a raised area of ground, and a bailey is a walled courtyard. So the motte-and-bailey castle was built on a raised area of ground and was surrounded by a walled courtyard. A protective ditch also surrounded the castle. This is not the original castle, which was ruined many years ago, but it was rebuilt as an exact replica. There is also a replica of a medieval village here, too.

St. Catherine's Oratory

St. Catherine’s Oratory is the only medieval lighthouse still standing in all of Britain. The 35-foot octagonal tower was built in 1328, by a local lord named Walter de Godeton. He was accused of stealing wine from a shipwrecked boat and ordered to build the lighthouse as his punishment. The lighthouse had 8 openings, and a fire shone through each opening to make sure ships could see the light. A priest lived there to pray for the sailors and make sure the fire kept burning.

Nottingham Caves

Underneath Nottingham, England, over 800 caves, tunnels, and passages have been found, and more are discovered every year. Nottingham sits on top of soft sandstone hills, where two rivers have formed cliffs in some places. The exposed rock is soft and crumbly, making it easy to cut and burrow into. The caves were dug for many reasons: as workplaces, homes, secret passages and tunnels, storerooms, prisons and dungeons. Small doors and gates are scattered all over the city!

Restormel Castle

There are many wonderful things about this medieval castle in southwestern England, including the fact that it is circular! A drawbridge attached to the gatehouse raises and lowers over the ditch that surrounds the castle. The original castle was probably built almost 1,000 years ago.

Swarkestone Bridge

Swarkestone Bridge was built over the River Trent and the surrounding marshes in the 1200’s. The bridge was part of an ancient highway between the two cities of Derby and Coventry. Swarkestone Bridge is built of sandstone and is just under a mile long. It has 17 arches, and 6 of them remain totally unchanged since medieval times. It is the longest stone bridge in England.

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village

Alnwick Castle is one of the largest castles in England that is still lived in, and 1,000 years old! The first parts of the castle were built in 1096. It’s such an impressive castle that it has even been used in movies! Have you seen it before?

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest church in England still in use. St. Augustine was the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and he came to England as a missionary in 597 AD. It was badly damaged by raiders from Denmark in 1011, and completely rebuilt between 1070 and 1077. It is one of the most famous Christian structures.

Abbey of St. Augustine, Canterbury

The Cathedral wasn't the only thing St. Augustine established in Canterbury. He also set up an entire abbey that was later named after him. When he first came to England, the people there weren't Christians. His goal was to change that! Within 100 years of his arrival, the nation of England had been converted to Christianity. The abbey was an important center of learning and religious activities for 1000 years.

Canterbury Norman Castle

Just like Dover Castle, Canterbury Castle was originally a wooden castle. It was built after an important battle called the Battle of Hastings, and it was one of three castles built on the road between the major cities of London and Dover. (Dover Castle is another one of the three.) The castles were built to help protect that road and keep enemies from passing through. It was rebuilt using stone in the early 1100's.

Canterbury Guildhall and Westgate

In this picture, the building on the right is the Guildhall. It was built more than 800 years ago and was used for important meetings. The famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once performed there! The towers on the left are part of the Westgate, a 60 foot high gate that was part of a wall built around the city to protect it. The wall was removed about 200 years ago, but the gate is still standing! The towers are more than 600 years old.

Canterbury City Walls

The first walls around Canterbury were built between 270 and 280 AD in order to protect the city from invaders. Most of the gates were destroyed, except the Westgate, and many of the walls were ruined through the years. Some were rebuilt and are still standing, and they are quite impressive!

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