Published: 06:00, 31 July 2021
Popular gardens in Canterbury city centre which have been closed for 18 months have reopened to the public - but those hoping to enjoy the tranquillity now need to pay £6 a head.
The Franciscan Gardens - accessed off Stour Street - were previously free to enter, with city workers, tourists and residents regularly taking breaks in the historic setting.
Now, following expensive restoration work, a new admission charge has been introduced.
Those wanting to benefit from an annual pass for unlimited visits will need to fork out £50 each.
The gardens have been enhanced over the past year-and-a-half, with 17th century arch and section of wall being stabilised at a cost of £45,000.
The charity in charge of the site's restoration say income raised from visitors will be reinvested into the gardens, supporting conservation work and allowing new features to be added.
Adult tickets cost £6, while a child fee for those aged between 5 and 17 stands at £3.
Under 5s go free.
A family ticket with two adults costs £15, while a family ticket with one adult comes in at £9.
Francesca Hollow, visitor attraction manager, said:“After 18 months of hard work restoring the gardens, it’s wonderful to be inviting visitors in to discover this hidden gem right in the city centre.
"The gardens have something for everyone, from a bee themed explorer trail for families, to providing space for contemplation in the chapel.
"It’s also a convenient location for local workers to enjoy their lunch, away from the hustle and bustle of the high street.
"We are hoping the gardens will become a much-loved destination for both locals and visitors to Canterbury."
Those purchasing tickets can do so online, or by visiting the new entrance shop in St Peter’s Street.
In the future, it is hoped ticket sales will help fund further restoration work including the refurbishment of an original Victorian vinery
The gardens - which are home to Greyfriars Chapel - carry huge historical significance, with the site being the first Franciscan settlement in the UK in 1224.
The chapel is the only building now remaining of the first English Franciscan Friary built in 1267, 43 years after the first friars settled in Canterbury, during the lifetime of St Francis of Assisi.