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A watercolour version of this composition was illustrated in A Lys Baldry, 'The Art of Mr Albert Goodwin, RWS’, The Studio, March 1910, page 93, at which time in was in the possession of the Fine Art Society.
Canterbury was of great importance to Albert Goodwin, who was born just 25 miles away in Maidstone, and he returned to it as a subject for painting throughout his career. Here, in possibly his grandest statement on the Kentish city, he made clear its attractions, with the cathedral’s Bell Harry Tower looming majestically over the picturesque red-tiled roofs and the timeworn walls of flint and stone belonging to the King’s School. These last have been simplified and exaggerated to dwarf the figures and so create an impressive effect. In the foreground, emphasised by the morning light, soldiers of the 3rd East Kent Regiment, known as ‘The Buffs’, march along Borough in their red dress uniforms, exciting the locals, and especially the children. Behind them lie their barracks, ahead the centre of the town and beyond the wider world. As the work was produced during the Second Boer War, in which The Buffs took part, it may have been intended as a reflection on Britain’s past glories and its present condition.