9 Of My Favourite Independent Shops in Canterbury
This post was created in partnership with Canterbury BID. I spend so much time telling you that you should hop on the High Speed from St. Pancras and enjoy lunch at some of my favourite places to eat in Canterbury (you need to try the egg sandwiches at The Naughty Egg, my favourite Greek food is at Zeus (forget anywhere Greek I’ve tried in London!) and I’m still obsessed with The Skinny Kitchen, though great news they’re opening in Boxpark Croydon soon!) but I don’t spend nearly enough time telling you where you should check out once you’re there. I may live in Zone 2, but I actually do most of my shopping when it comes to gifts and home ware in Canterbury independents. So today, I thought I’d share 9 of my local favourites!
I need to feel more guilty when I pick up a last minute edible chocolate gift at Hotel Chocolat because when I’m in Canterbury I have access to an incredible French chocolaterie where everything is made by hand, and tastes utterly incredible. When you step into Madame Oiseau you’re enveloped by the warm smell of chocolate, and if you head in at the moment you can pick up an Easter egg no one else will be getting! Personally I’m a fan of their gift chocolate bars to give instead of a card for things like birthdays, and their bespoke services. One year for Mothers Day I got a Cath Kidston mug for my Mother, then had them make the most amazing coffee chocolates to fill it to the brim! Do bring some of their chocolates home after a Canterbury day trip!
Madame Oiseau, 8 Borough, Canterbury, CT1 2DR
A relatively new addition to the Cathedral Quarter, since my first visit I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Wrapped!, a lovely gift and party shop which has every little trinket you can imagine. Go there for unique home gifts, things for kids, beautiful cards, colourful gift wrap and gift bags for other people, and I’m afraid you won’t be able to resist treating yourself to a little something too! I’m very tempted to make my summer party flamingo themed this year just so I can buy everything from their current party display in the basement!
Wrapped!, 22 Burgate, Canterbury, CT1 2HB
The Chaucer Bookshop
On Thursday afternoons as a 6th former we had a club for students who were going to study English at university where we all got together and talked about books that we did not study in class. One afternoon, because of sports matches and other commitments I was the only person who turned up. So, the teacher running the club told me we were going for a walk, and I was introduced to The Chaucer Bookshop, a fantastic, higgldy 18th century shop hidden down a side street that is crammed with second hand and antique books from floor to ceiling on almost any topic you could imagine. You could, and I have spent hours here browsing the shelves for treasure.
The Chaucer Bookshop, 6 Beer Cart Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2NY
Queen Bee Home
It is a fact, universally acknowledged that Queen Bee Home (especially at Christmas, they’re always one of my favourites when I’m judging the windows) have the best shop window displays in Canterbury. At first glance it is a lovely little treasure trove of little bits and pieces to make your home special spread over several floors (with a little cafe serving tea and cakes, soups and quiches in the back, of course), but they also offer interior design services if you’re local and looking for a refresh. Also good for girly gifts and scented candles!
Queen Bee Home, 12 Mercery Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2JJ
In the age of bespoke online flower delivery services and letterbox blooms I think we overlook the power of a good, independent florist. I always love Lady Penelope’s minimalist floral displays, and I don’t know a person who wouldn’t want one of their hatboxes full of roses on a special occasion rather than a regular bouquet. Next time you’re buying for someone instead of picking something online that lots of other people will be getting, go into Lady Penelope’s and have them put together something unique featuring all of their favourites!
Lady Penelope’s, 19 Castle Street, Canterbury, CT1 2QJ
There are lots of fantastic jewellers in Canterbury. Fitzgerald has just had a total overhaul with a beautiful new store, Ortwin Thyssen creates the most magical bespoke creations, I’m always lusting after the beautiful pendants in Hatfields‘ windows, and my gold pink pearl pendant from Cousins is one of my most prize possessions; I know at least one friend who won’t accept an engagement ring from anywhere else! However, all of these stores are where you go to shop for a special occasion; 925 Silver on the King’s Mile is where you shop for beautiful, everyday gifts at prices you won’t believe for such lovely everyday jewellery. I joked with the owner when I was taking these photos that so much business comes from girls who go to my school; it is right down from our main school gate, and it has been one of my go-to gift locations since I was working with pocket money prices for things like my best friends birthday or leaving presents!
925 Silver, 57 Palace Street, CT1 2DY
I live in London now. If I don’t fancy going to Waitrose, or the beautiful greengrocers around the corner, I have a massive Whole Foods within waling distance. My last flat was just as close to Borough Market, and since I moved back to the city I’ve had access to fresh food and specialist ingredients without having to jump into the car for the first time since I lived in Los Angeles. What I never really talked about when I lived in Kent is that I did not shop for all of these things online; I just knew where to look. A gem that has been in Canterbury for decades (but as only in the last couple of years moved away from a side street into the Cathedral Quarter) is Canterbury Wholefoods: yes they sell all the things you need for the sort of vegan or raw diet I don’t follow, but they also have awesome fresh bread, a selection of Asian ingredients I usually spend time hunting down, a fridge of fresh ferments (and we all know how much I love the oh so on trend kimchees and krauts!) and things like bags of sunflower seeds and specialist flours so much cheaper than you can get them in the supermarket.
Canterbury Wholefoods, 1-3 Iron Bar Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2HN
The problem with the bottom half of Canterbury High Street is that unless you’re a restaurant, you’re liable to get lost among the throngs of tourists who all seem to congregate there. An effort needs to be made that Sowley doesn’t because it is a treasure trove of unique, handmade gifts and beautiful artwork, a lot personal to the city. They have loads of lovely jewellery for artsy types, and they also offer a mirror and picture framing service in house.
Sowley, 7a Peter’s Street, Canterbury, CT1 2AT
The Living Lounge
It was my best friend Kathryn who introduced me to The Living Lounge. While she lives in a period flat with beautiful exploded beams, she also have a grey, darker, Scandi vibe and I knew why she liked the store the moment I walked in. This is for the modern, chic, minimalist home, and I love all of the hygge cushions and unique home pieces in store. And, there is always something different every time I visit.
The Living Lounge, 13 Orange Street, Canterbury, CT1 2JA
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