Historic campus

Our historic setting

We are privileged to be situated in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in this historic and cosmopolitan city. As one of only a small number of universities in the UK to enjoy this prestigious connection with a World Heritage Site, we are proud of our location and unique link to this wonderful city.

We are working closely with Historic England and Canterbury City Council to ensure that our proposals are sensitive to our historic surroundings.

The Pilgrims' Trail

Our campus lies along the route thought to have been taken by Queen Bertha when worshipping at St Martin’s Church in the 6th century. The desire to re-establish access along this route from Canterbury Cathedral to St Martin’s Church via St Augustine’s Abbey has driven the design of both the buildings and open spaces.

Find out more about how our proposals will reconnect these historic sites.

The Prison Quarter

The original HM Prison Canterbury was built in 1806 – 1808 by George Byfield. The original buildings consisted of the entrance gateway plus the main prison building housing 41 prisoners, within an octagonal walled compound. The courthouse adjoined the compound on the west. Both the prison and the courthouse were separated from the road by fine cast iron railings. All of these facilities survive, although much altered.

The former courthouse became part of the University in 2006 and originally, there was an underground link from the Old Sessions House to the prison which has now been sealed.

The original gatehouse was built as part of the prison wall and consists of a pair of three sided towers, separated by an archway with a faux portcullis over. Only the façade remains as the building itself was reconstructed and extended beyond the façade and boundary wall in the 1950s. More recently, a pedestrian door has been cut through the historic boundary wall to give pedestrian access to the gatehouse. This area of the prison has been subject to a Grade II listing by Historic England, together with the main prison walls, railings and structure to the front of the prison.

The front wall either side of the gate, as far as the Governor’s House, the west angled return wall, and the west wall of the original octagonal compound still survive from the original 1800s building. All the rest of the original compound walls have been removed, extended, raised, or rebuilt in the later 19th century. Together with Historic England we have sought to identify the most historically significant parts of the building.

See an artist's impression of proposals for the Prison Quarter.


Layers of the city’s rich history lie beneath the ground in addition to the more visible buildings and monuments above ground such as the cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church. Given the campus location, investigations to understand the significance of buried heritage within the Prison Quarter have been extensive.



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Last edited: 05/12/2017 00:56:00