Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Mercery Lane (Canterbury)

Mercery Lane is a little street at the heart of the ancient cathedral city of Canterbury, and one of the most photographed streets in England.

It leads from the High Street, the spine of the city which is in fact Watling Street, to the Christ Church Gateway of Canterbury Cathedral, which dominates the little market place known as the Buttermarket.

Mercery Lane, like the even more famous The Shambles at York, retains its mediaeval width, and the upper floors of the timber framed houses on either side almost touch each other.

The houses on the West side were all part of the Chequers Inn, with its dormitory containing a hundfred beds. The Chequers had originally been built as a hostel for the multitudes of pilgrims who visited the shrine of the murdered Thomas a Becket.

On the East side of the lane, Boots the Chemist is built on top of two floors of vaulted stone cellars, which go down 30 feet, and dates from the 13th century.

At the height of Canterbury's mediaeval prosperity as a pilgrimage centre, Mercery Lane was lined with stalls selling healing water from Becket's Well.

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