A Secret Sanctuary Since 1224

Discover the history of the gardens and how we’re using the past to inform our future.

  • Wild wall flowers growing from historic wall
    Image credit: Sarah D. Andrews
The rear of the Eastbridge Hospital with River Stour flowing underneath
Image credit: Sarah D. Andrews


After arriving in Canterbury from Italy in 1224, the Franciscans were gifted a small island of land. Active members of the community, the friars gained respect and popularity by aiding the sick and needy. Over the next two hundred years, they were bequeathed more land and funds, which transformed their simple settlement into a twenty acre friary.

The garden itself has lived many lives, having been an estate for a wealthy Tudor family, a tea garden and a commercial plant nursery. Today, we have an acre and a half of the original site in our care. It has been restored to evoke a taste of how the Franciscans would have seen it, complete with chapel, cloister garth and cutting garden.

Read more about our history

Vintage garden cast iron lawn roller with the Franciscan Gardens in the background
Image credit: Geraldine Deeney


Our journey first began in 2000 when we first embarked on the enormous challenge to restore the original Franciscan Friary garden from a derelict site. Now open for the first time as a heritage site, we will continue to develop and grow the garden as the planting matures, reinvesting the income our small charity generates. A haven away from the bustle of Canterbury’s busy streets, we hope to be a treasured site for visitors and the local community to pause in nature, reflect on the simple joys of life and discover our fascinating history.

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