Explore Canterbury’s rich literary heritage at The Kit

PUBLISHED: 11:21 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:21 01 October 2019

You can dress up as your favourite character at The Kit (photo: The Kit)

You can dress up as your favourite character at The Kit (photo: The Kit)

Archant

If you are a fan of history, mystery and literature and love a challenge, then head for The Kit in Canterbury

Housed in a 12th-century building tucked away on Stour Street, The Kit offers new and exciting ways to learn about Canterbury's wonderfully rich literary heritage.

It also embodies 800 years of colourful history. Back in 1220 wooden almshouses were built here on the site of a tannery and, 20 years later, converted into a hospital for poor priests, founded by Simon Langton, Archdeacon of Canterbury.

The Poor Priests' Hospital, as it became known, survived Henry VIII's Reformation but was surrendered to Elizabeth I, who granted it to the city. It became the Blue Coat School for poor boys and the Bridewell house of correction.

By 1727 the school also housed a workhouse, which remained until the mid-19th century after the school closed in 1881. A police station and later a health centre went on to occupy the site until 1987, when the Canterbury Heritage Museum opened here.

This 1585 portrait is thought to be that of the 21-year-old Christopher MarloweThis 1585 portrait is thought to be that of the 21-year-old Christopher Marlowe

Fast forward to 2017 and The Marlowe took on the lease of this historically important building, naming it The Marlowe Kit. It's a collaboration between The Marlowe and Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries with a programme made possible by Pioneering Places, part of The Great Place scheme.

Today it is a multi-purpose centre housed in a Tardis-like space where every nook and cranny is used to maximum effect. At its heart is a new exhibition that celebrates the remarkable lives and works of Christopher Marlowe, Aphra Behn and Joseph Conrad - three world-famous writers who lived in Canterbury during three very different eras in the City's history.

The exhibition includes objects from Canterbury City Council's heritage archive, including items from Joseph Conrad's personal collection, such as his typewriter.

The Marlowe Kit is also a place to enjoy intimate performances, with a programme of theatre, music, comedy, spoken word and family shows that take place in the wonderfully atmospheric 12th-century Great Hall.

It is the home too of creative classes, with a range of workshops for all ages, including The Marlowe Youth Company, which gives young people the opportunity to develop their own creative skills and talents.

Starting this summer 2019, a new programme of school workshops that will introduce young people to Christopher Marlowe and the world in which he lived is being introduced.

The tailored learning experience provides exciting ways to learn about Canterbury's literary heritage through everything from craft and creative writing to dressing up.

If all this isn't enough to whet your appetite, then try the immersive escape room experience. Marlowe's Ghost is themed around the life and death of Christopher Marlowe, inviting gamers, tourists and families to unlock the mysteries of Canterbury's greatest dramatist.

Find out more

The Marlowe Kit, Stour Street, Canterbury CT1 2NZ. 01227 787787

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