St Augustine’s Abbey Canterbury
English Heritage
Kent CT1 1TF  
The ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey form part of the Canterbury UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes Canterbury Cathedral and St Martin's Church. These three buildings are where Christianity was irrevocably established in England.
In 597 AD Pope Gregory I sent St Augustine to south England to make Christianity the premier religion of Anglo-Saxon England. King Ethelbert of Kent was pagan, but his wife Bertha was a Christian. She persuaded her husband to give the abandoned church of St Martin to Augustine and Ethelbert converted to Christianity.
In 602 AD Augustine founded a cathedral and established a monastic community around it which served as part of his household. The monks Augustine brought with him were Benedictines.
One of the main purposes of the abbey right from the outset was as a burial place for the Kings of Kent and the Archbishops of Canterbury. It was not until the 10th century that a formal Benedictine Abbey was established by St Dunstan and dedicated to St Augustine.
Over the centuries the monastery underwent rebuilding and expansion, likewise the cathedral. By the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1538, the Benedictine Abbey and monastery was enormous. The cloister, lavitorium, frater and kitchen had been rebuilt.
The Library contained in excess of 2000 volumes, most of them created in the monastery’s own scriptorium.
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There was a new Great Gate, an outer court with a cellarer’s range, a brewhouse, a bakehouse and walled vineyard. Following an earthquake, a new gate house was built in 1390 and this is the gatehouse we see today. A Lady Chapel was the last thing to be built.
It took Henry VIII fifteen years to systematically dismantle the abbey, but some buildings were retained to create a palace for his new wife, Anne of Cleeves. She did not live there so the palace was leased out to a succession of noblemen.
In the 1600s the then owner employed the elder of The Tradescants (please refer to the article 'Garden Museum' in this website) to landscape a formal garden around the palace.
Among the ruins will be seen the empty grave of St Augustine. His relics disappeared at the time of the Dissolution. The graves of four Ango-Saxon Kentish Kings are also visible.
The Abbey is situated just outside the city walls and precincts of the Cathedral. It is in the care of English Heritage.
Plan Your Visit 
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Small museum; Guide Books; Audio Tours
Opening Dates & Times
The Abbey is closed from 24-26 December and 1 January. Check the official website for up to date information.
Admission Costs
Check the official website for up to date information.
Savings can be obtained by purchasing a Canterbury Attractions Passport from the Visit Canterbury Centre opposite the entrance to the cathedral.
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0)1227 767 345
Getting There
- By Car
The SatNav code for public pay parking close to the Abbey ruins is CT1 1PF.
- By Foot (walking)
St. Augustine’s Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral are located only a short walk from each other past St Martin's Church, the oldest church in England.
Google Maps - St Augustine's Abbey