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"cathedral tour" - England - Canterbury, Salisbury, etc

Now that the Cathedral Express train no longer runs, do any of you good folks have ideas on all-in package tours that would include either/or Canterbury & Salisbury cathedrals?


Posted by
21041 posts

I do not, but I see that if you want to take the train between Canterbury and Salisbury, you must change trains in London, and sometimes even change stations. If a visitor is spending time in London anyway, it might be simplest to make separate trips to the two towns (cities?). I haven't been to Salisbury, but I went to Canterbury by train in 2018, and the trip was easy. In addition to the lovely cathedral (which has a stained-glass museum upstairs), Canterbury has a very picturesque central historic area, and the tourist office offers a good walking tour.

Posted by
5457 posts

Britain is loaded with cathedrals.
Also, consider Winchester, York and Durham (that is just for England).

Posted by
5251 posts

Rick Steves "Villages of South England" tour starts in Canterbury and includes Salisbury, along with a lot else. Or, as noted above, you could take separate day or overnight trips from London to both cities. I'm sure there are other tours that include one, the other, or both, by lots of tour operators. And, as noted, many other wonderful cathedrals in various parts of Britain.

I hadn't heard of the "Cathedral Express," but per Wikipedia that train ran between London and several other cathedral cities, not including those you mentioned. Was there another one?

Posted by
27711 posts

If you are collecting top notch cathedrals you wouldn't want to miss Hereford with its Chained Library and a touch of the local fermented fruit beverage, Worcester on the banks of the Severn and one of the best rings of bells anywhere, Chester with a scale model of the Cathedral within, made of Lego (I put in 7 bricks), Tewkesbury (an Abbey not a Cathedral but unique and beautiful - just don't go when the river floods), Ely with its unique Lantern, Peterborough with its couple of Queens, and a fair few more.

Always fun to see who is buried in each. Oh yes, I forgot St Albans.

Posted by
9684 posts

Another vote with Dick. On my RS Southern England tour we had a sterling tour of the stained glass workshop at Canterbury Cathedral as well as a guided tour inside the Cathedral on that tour. The artist who guided us thru the workshop told us which windows she had designed so afterward we went back into the Cloister to see her work. It was even more beautiful knowing we'd met the artist.

We had a tour of Salisbury Cathedral as well and ended in the Chapter House where the Magna Carta is located.

At both cathedrals most of the tour group turned up for Evensong but that was on our own time.

Both Canterbury and Salisbury are also easy to do on your own, assuming you are OK with heading back to London to get from one to the other. I've been to Salisbury more often and enjoy staying there in a B&B for a few nights to see the other things around the Cathedral Close and the city. They have some cool tours I'd like to take - a Medieval Graffiti tour, a Stonemasonry Yard tour and a Library tour!

I liked Wells Cathedral as well. They have really interesting scissor arches in the nave.

Posted by
3303 posts

One of the things I love best when visiting England is going to churches & cathedrals for Evensong, for the Holy Eucharist, or to tour these houses of worship. I have never been to a cathedral that did not offer tours by volunteers. It would never occur to me to search for a tour group when the best tours are given by the volunteers of that church or Cathedral. In addition, public transportation to both Canterbury & Salisbury is excellent.

Both Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedrals have phenomenal tour guides.

Posted by
204 posts

Nigel, thank you for the list of cathedrals off the beaten path. I've been through Peterborough several times and have seen the cathedral from a distance (from my coach!), but it would definitely be worth a stop. I love that you mention the bells at Worcester! On our week-long visit to Cambridge in November we were encouraged to visit the cathedrals in Lincoln and Ely but sadly didn't have time. And, oddly enough, I was paging through a book at a bookstore yesterday and it mentioned Hereford Cathedral and its chained books. Definitely on my list now!

Posted by
1796 posts

Oh my word, Nigel. I need to visit ALL these! Next summer I will be stopping at Durham, Yorkminster, Chester, St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields (also St. David’s), all including evensong (edit*Oh, and Coventry). I am now adding the ones you mentioned to my list - but it’s going to require another trip! (Have been to Canterbury, Salisbury, and Wells.)

Tim, it’s an easy train trip to either of the ones you mentioned; but to get from one to the other, you do have to go back to London for a train change. It’s not hard, though.

Posted by
389 posts

Nigel - not adding Gloucester into your west country recommendations? I really like it, it just keeps going on and on. And the Harry potter connection always adds interest for the kids.

Posted by
27711 posts

Sorry, Ryan and Gill

Grew up in Cheltenham - Tewkesbury was far enough away but Gloucester was like the cross town rivals - never went there.

Posted by
5535 posts

Wells is the most interesting cathedral in my opinion.

To be a city, you used to have to have a Cathedral, so there are plenty to choose from! Liverpool has two - an Anglican traditional affair and a catholic modern building, known as Paddy’s wigwam because of the large Irish population.

Posted by
335 posts

Chichester cathedral in West Sussex, close to the border with Hampshire. Interesting area with Fishbourne Roman Villa, the Chichester Theatre Festival, Glyneborne Opera. The city is close to both Portsmouth and Southampton and Winchester.

Guildford in Surrey has a modern cathedral that is well worth visiting.

Posted by
36 posts

I have not been to Durham or Salisbury (yet, I intend to go to at least one, if not both this upcoming June), but I would recommend

  1. Wells Cathedral
  2. York Minster
  3. Bath Abbey

^ Those were my favorite out of the bunch that I had visited last trip, with Wells Cathedral definitely taking the #1 spot.

Posted by
925 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
Canterbury is an easy trip from London by either train or bus from Victoria Station. We did an over night so we could see the cathedral lit at night. There is lodging connected with the Cathedral which gives automatic entrance to the cathedral close. That was well worth it. And the breakfast provided was not your traditional English full breakfast, it was amazing eggs Benedict, if you wanted. Canterbury is worth seeing because of the murder. The building itself...just one more cathedral.

Salisbury cathedral is great because of its tower and surrounding green space. And it has a copy of the 1215 Magna Carta of which only four exist (British Library has 2, Lincoln Cathedral the other one). The book, Sarum, is a nicely written book about the city and the cathedral by Rutherford. Under $4 from eBay. Trains also run to Salisbury.

Someone mentioned the Hereford cathedral. The chained books were absolutely fascinating. And it has a Mappa Mundi, I loved both

wayne iNWI.