Church Music Conference

Church Music and Musicians in Britain and Ireland 1660-1900: Between the Chapel and the Tavern.

20-23 June 2017

A Conference sponsored jointly by Canterbury Christ Church University and Canterbury Cathedral for performers and scholars to discuss new research and practice.

Update June 2017: with less than two weeks to go before the Conference, final bookings will have to be received by Friday 16 June. Please follow the links below to (a) book your place on the Conference and (b) book your Conference Dinner. Sorry there are two links/payments to make; it's all to do with VAT, apparently.

Please note that thanks to an excellent response to the Conference and our careful financial management, the "Evening with the Canterbury Catch Club" will be FREE to all delegates; you will only have to pay for the (excellent) food we have booked for you at the Parrot. Those of you who have already paid will be refunded. It would be very helpful if you could use the link to book, but you should select the £0 option when you do so; you'll be asked to settle your own bill for food and drink on the evening. Heartily recommended as a slice of Canterbury history, very appropriate to this Conference!

Finally, please see below the link to our Conference booklet: hot off the computer, it should answer many organisational questions you may have.


Registration is now open - please see the section below for a note about accommodation. It is well worth booking in advance.


Conference Dinner

Book Dinner

As you will see from the Conference Timetable we are delighted to welcome Professor Rachel Cowgill, Head of Music & Drama at the University of Huddersfield, as our Keynote Speaker on the opening night of the Conference; here is a brief introduction to her keynote lecture:

‘Speech of Angels’ or ‘Brandy of the Damned’? Music as Moral Landscape in Nineteenth-Century British Culture

Starting from contrasting statements of music’s worth by Thomas Carlyle (1852) and George Bernard Shaw (1903), our keynote explores how music was used by Victorians to define the moral character of space and place in the urban environment. It also explores Victorian ideas of music as moral topography in and of itself - as a landscape to be traversed in the imagination - and the impact of such notions on the cultivation, presentation, and reception of musical performance in nineteenth-century Britain.

Other treats include an evening tour of the Cathedral (when we will have the building entirely to ourselves) exploring the music and space of this remarkable place; an introduction to the Cathedral Archives; and an evening with the Canterbury Catch Club (i.e., Chris Price and some of his fellow Lay Clerks, aided and abetted by some enthusiastic audience participation), to include some of the more-or-less respectable repertoire from the remarkable archive sources we have here at Canterbury.

We do hope you can join us.

Please direct all enquiries about this conference to:

As we have noted above, our very successful Call for Papers has served to focus this year's Conference on four main themes within our chosen period and place:

  • Music & identity
  • Music and a sense of place
  • Musical personalities
  • New research on repertoire

Furthermore, it is clear that our excellent contributors are keenly aware of the social and political context of their chosen subject; these two over-arching strands clearly inform their thinking about their work. The Committee felt this was a real strength of their proposals

If you would still like to join us, you have one more week in which you might pitch a poster presentation to us. If you have a topic which you think makes a further contribution to those themes, send us your pitch by Friday 16 June.

If you think you'd like to join us for some or all of the time anyway, please follow the link below and take note of the advice about accommodation.

Registration for the Conference will open in the New Year. We strongly recommend, however, that you book accommodation for the 3 nights 20-23 June (or more if you wish!) at your earliest convenience; Canterbury is an extremely popular tourist destination at that time of year. We have reserved single- and double-room accommodation in the Cathedral Lodge and the nearby Burgate House at a reduced rate for Conference Delegates, as follows:

  • 27 x double/twin/accessible bedrooms in the Lodge £119 double occupancy/ £109 single occupancy
  • 2 x single bedrooms in the Lodge £89 single occupancy
  • 5 x Burgate House double/twin bedrooms £97 double occupancy/£87 single occupancy
  • 1 x Burgate House self-catering apartment (contains 2 double or twin configured bedrooms) £189

However, the Lodge can only hold that offer open until 20th March 2017, so early booking is advisable. Please ensure you mention the Church Music & Musicians Conference when you book.

Travel to Canterbury

Travel advice

Even if you are giving a lecture recital or plan to give any kind of performance, no matter how informal, do not share this with the immigration officials. They are prone to misinterpret any mention of the word ‘performance’ as ‘work’. There are horror stories, so please take care.

Arriving from abroad


From London Gatwick you can take the train to Canterbury either via London St Pancras (one change) or changing at both Redhill and Tonbrige (no lift at Tonbridge!). Don’t waste your money on the ‘Gatwick Express’ (plus, it will only take you to Victoria anyway). This will take at least two hours from door to door. If you are with a group, you might consider hiring a private taxi to Canterbury for around £65. Please contact for contact details.

From Heathrow you have several options. The easiest is to take the Piccadilly line all the way to London St Pancras, then take the direct, high-speed service to Canterbury West (see below)—only one change. It’s usually just under an hour on the Tube, then 52 minutes to CBW. If you hate the Tube and love changing trains, you can take the Heathrow Express (more money) and then take the Circle Line from Paddington to St Pancras and then the high-speed direct to Canterbury West. If you are with a group, you might consider hiring a private taxi to Canterbury for around £80–100. Please contact for contact details.

London Stansted. Buy your ticket from the window and ask for a ticket all the way to Canterbury West. If you are returning via Stansted, go ahead and buy a return that will work for your date. You’ll need to change at Tottenham Hale and then take the Tube to St Pancras, then the high-speed to Canterbury West. Count on a minimum of two hours travel time

Luton Airport. Take the train from Luton Airport Parkway to London St Pancras, then catch the high-speed service to Canterbury West. If you time it right, this can be done in under two hours.

From within the UK

From London: The fastest and easiest train is from London St Pancras station. The trains leave from platforms 11–13, which is upstairs near the entrance to the station (King’s Cross side). The Margate trains go directly to Canterbury West, otherwise you may need to change at Ashford International. Some busy trains will split at Ashford, so listen for announcements (or ask the guard) and make sure you are in the correct part of the train by the time you reach Ashford. There are lifts at all of these stations. The direct train on the high-speed service is about 52 minutes.

You can also leave from London Victoria and arrive at Canterbury East. If you are staying at Petros Court this station is closer than Canterbury West, but takes at leat 40 minutes longer.

Arriving on Eurostar. You are very wise to arrive via Eurostar! If you can, book a train that stops at Ashford International (not all trains stop there, so best to check before you book). It’s about 1 hr 52 minutes from Paris to Ashford, and 1 hr 37 minutes from Brussels. From Ashford, you can catch a train to Canterbury West station, which is about a 15–20 minute journey, depending on which train to take.

This map will help you find your way between University accommodation and the main conference venues on the North Holmes Road campus.

What do you think of when someone mentions Canterbury? Chaucer (and/or his pilgrims), Christopher Marlowe (born here) and Canterbury Cathedral. Thought so. You’ll find that a great many shop owners feel the same. You’ll soon find just about every other shop or service called ‘The Chaucer…’ something, or ‘Pilgrim’s’ this and that. My current favourite is the ‘Chaucer Roundabout’. He’d be so proud. The author of Doctor Faustus is not left out of this kind of silliness either (though, at least our fine theatre bears his name). The Romans turned Canterbury from a wretched little market in Kent to a fine city. However, on their first attempt they failed to conquer all of Kent and so the motto of the county is ‘Invicta’; cue Invicta Paints, Invicta IT services, Invicta Coffee, and so on).

Canterbury is home to two large universities: Canterbury Christ Church University (ours) and The University of Kent. In addition to these, there are also several arts colleges and other training colleges. The result is that Canterbury has the highest student-to-townie population in all of Europe: of the 55,000 or so residing in Canterbury, around 27,000 of them are students. Unsurprisingly, we also have a lot of pubs—over 100 in the municipal area.

The website MyCanterbury has many deals and offers at local shops, attractions and events. There is also a free app available. This may enhance your enjoyment of your visit to our lovely city and could save you money as well. 

Getting Around

Have a look at the map of Canterbury on this website . Canterbury city centre is still largely surrounded by a medieval wall (itself built on top of the Roman one) which has, over the centuries, kept the centre compact. You can walk from one end of the high street to the other in about 10–12 minutes. I mention this so that if your hotel or B and B is not right near campus, you’re unlikely to be beyond walking distance away.

Eating and Drinking

If you are arriving on the Wednesday to register and come to a drinks reception in the evening (you really should!), you might want to book a table for dinner that night. I’d love to write an eating and drinking blog for the conference, but I just can’t, so here is my off-the-cuff guide on good places for sensible people like you to go out to eat and/or drink.

Proper Restaurants

The Goods Shed . Not only the best restaurant in Canterbury, but rated one of the top 50 in the South and one of the top 100 in the UK. Situated in our best food market. If your budget can take it, go here. Spanish chef Raphael is a master. Mains about £14–£25.

Deeson’s . For location and atmosphere, Deeson’s is hard to beat. There have been a few changes in kitchen lately and so the verdict is not yet clear. I’ve never, myself, had a bad meal here. Mains around £15–£24.

Zeus.  A new Greek (really?) restaurant on Orange Street. It’s not the cheapest place (mains are around £11–£20), but great food and service in a dignified atmosphere. You have to drink Greek or Cypriot wine. Make of that what you will.

A La Turka. Not a chain, but they do have two locations in Canterbury. The combination of quality and cost are excellent and A La Turka has quickly become very popular with locals. Main courses around £10–£15 (though Meze’s are less).

Boho. Very popular with seasoned locals, they don’t take reservations (very Boho…). Chance your arm if you’re nearby. I’ve never had a bad meal here. You can get away with two course here for under £20.

The Ambrette . Indian (and Indian-inspired) cooking at its finest. Their restaurant in Margate has a Michelin star. Mains £12–£25.

Cafe Mauresque . Andalucian/Moroccan. Wonderful. Tapas start around £3.75, mains around £10–£17. You can order giant platters to share—good way to save a few pounds (and yet gain a few…).

Osteria Posillipo . You can get a plate of pasta here for under £7 and pizzas from £6.

Pinnochio’s. If you like unpretentious (moi?!) southern Italian food, this place is great. Enjoy authentic swearing in Neapolitan dialect from the kitchen whilst you enjoy proper Italian cooking.

Marino’s. OK. If you really must eat fish and chips, this is the place to do it. There’s no where to sit, so you’ll have to eat it in a bus shelter or in the nearby Westgate Park.

Café des Amis. Mexican. Really. Great food, but noisy.

Kashmiri Tandoori . Want a curry? Go here. You can fill up for under a tenner.

Azouma . Excellent Moroccan food. If you feel like eating like a horse, I recommend the lunchtime buffet (around £7). About a two-minute stagger from Christ Church campus.

Café du Soleil.  Have you been giving or hearing papers about Lully or Louis XIV? Then why not continue your day of ‘Sun’ references by eating here? There’s no reason not to.

Tomago.  All the Japanese students and staff go here—and for good reason. Miso soup from £2.

La Trappiste. Belgian-themed (though mostly decorated with copies of Alfons Mucha works) this is place is extremely popular. 

Pubs that serve (edible) food

The Shakespeare.  The beer is only OK here (it’s not terrible, it’s just OK), but the food is excellent and very good value. You can get a proper meal here for under £7.

The Foundry . Britain has imported the idea of brew-pub from America. This one is wonderful. The beers are generally excellent and the food is solidly good. Nice atmosphere and friendly service.

The Dolphin . As pubs go, this Canterbury’s poshest. This is a go-to pub for locals in the Summer because it has a large and lovely garden at the back. Well-kept beer and table service (with waitresses and everything). The food prices are higher than your average pub, but the quality is high. Mains about £8–£16. (I’m getting hungry just writing these down!).

The Unicorn . This is my local, so don’t get drunk and smash the place up if you’re still wearing your conference badge. This is a proper pub (so don’t go here for a Cosmo). First opened in the early 17th century, The Unicorn is unusual in that it has (apart from a few years) always been a pub and always called The Unicorn. Great bargains here for a meal if you buy them in pairs (they have a two-for-£11 deal). This pub is probably the best value-for-money pub on the list. It’s one of the best pubs for beer in the entire region and is frequently CAMRA pub of the year for the area. It’s just opposite one of Canterbury’s best butchers, so meat dishes are always fresh. They have a decent garden too, though last Summer, Canterbury was completely overrun by wasps and we hardly ever sat out in pub gardens. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!

The Two Sawyers. Bored to tears of people prattling on about hand-rastrated paper or the influence of Silesian folk dancing on Irish pantomime? You’re only two minutes away from this little eighteenth-century oasis at the other end of the impossibly twee-sounding Love Lane. Have a burger and a pint, then make your way slowly back to the conference. You’re welcome. Warning: you might see me there.

The Parrot.  This listed, 14th-century pub is a complete gem. We usually have our Music Department Christmas dinner here. If you go here, don’t tell too many tourists about it—I don’t want it ruined! Absolutely oozing with atmosphere, the food is excellent (same owners as The Shakespeare) and they have a lovely, higgledy–piggledy garden. If you’re tall, remember not to whack to your head on the countless beams and little doorways (note to self). Mains about £9–£17. Finally, there are also familiar and perfectly fine chains (Pizza Express has a wonderful location on a Roman canal) and sandwich shops and cafes on the high street and around the town centre.

  • Chris Price (co-chair): Senior Lecturer, Canterbury Christ Church University & Tenor Lay Clerk, Canterbury Cathedral.
  • Dr David Newsholme (co-chair): Assistant Organist & Director of the Cathedral Girls Choir, Canterbury Cathedral.
  • Canon Chris Irvine: Canon Librarian, Canterbury Cathedral.
  • Christopher Gower, FRCO, FCM: former Organist of Peterborough Cathedral.


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 02:30:00