Kent Family History Society ~ Canterbury Branch ~ PARISH CHURCHES CANTERBURY

Canterbury Scenes with logo of Kent Family History Society




By following the links on the navigation pane you may find images of various parish churches in Canterbury and East Kent. Also short histories of the churches with links to the CCA catalogue and other websites we thought might help make research easier. If there is something not included which you think might be useful to display or you'd like to know more about research in our area please Contact Us .

Patron Saint of family researchers - we would be pleased to hear if there is one. However, until one comes to light perhaps the honour should go to St Theodore of Tarsus Archbishop of Canterbury (668 - 693 AD) who planned the administrative divisions of the church into dioceses and parishes.  The records of which we family researchers use to trace ancestors before civil registration came in to being in 1837.

Canterbury's Parish Churches  - Over Canterbury's long history this small city can count roughly 30 parish churches, a Cathedral and an Abbey, which at one time or another have stood within the city or the suburbs close by. After several out-breaks of plague and other factors reduced the medieval population parishes were merged. Nowadays all the parishes inside the city walls, except Christ Church Cathedral (also a parish church) and the Eastbridge Hospital, have been amalgamated to form Canterbury City Centre Parish. Services are now shared between the two ancient churches of St Mildred's and St Peter's.

Although parishes have vanished, merged and remerged many of the redundant churches are still standing. Put to other uses such as: community halls, theatres, museums, art galleries, and the city's Guildhall it means they are cared for so we may still see the buildings in which our ancestors significant life events took place. Most parish registers and other records which have survived are held in the Cathedral Archives.

Canterbury Cathedral Archives are open to researchers on three days a week and occasional Saturday mornings. Booking is always advisable. visit CCA web pages...

Many original East Kent parish records may now be searched online at

Herb Garden outside Canterbury Cathedral Archives formerly the Great Dormitory of Christchurch Monastery 

County Corporate Status: - When researching in Canterbury it should be noted that between 1471 and 1972 the city was a county corporate i.e. a county in its own right. It was independent of the administration of the county of Kent. As a county corporate the City and Borough of Canterbury would have looked after affairs such as education and the county assizes. Hence it would be well to check the cases held in Canterbury if you can't find what you are searching for at the assizes held in Maidstone.

Civil Registration Districts - The division of the City and Borough of Canterbury when civil registration was introduced in 1837 was undoubtedly designed for maximum confusion. For example you might reasonably expect the detail of someone born in The Cathedral Precincts to be in the Canterbury Registration District but until quite recently BMDs for the Cathedral were registered in the Blean Registration District; as are parts of St Mary Northgate parish, St Gregory and St Dunstan. Also consider checking the Bridge Registration District for places to the south of Canterbury.

Tricia Baxter, Webmaster

David Wood BA (hons.), Branch Chairman

Page updated: 30 October 2013