Cathedral, Canterbury

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  • Cathedral west and south
    Cathedral west and south
    by leics
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    Zodiac roundel: Cancer
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  • uglyscot's Profile Photo

    Visit the Cathedral- exterior view

    by uglyscot Updated Jan 22, 2013

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    The present Cathedral is built on the site of a former church dating to Roman times. Its building styles denote crucial moments in the cathedral's history. Approach to the Cathedral is through Christ Church Gate on the south side of the precinct There rises the great church of tall towers, finials and walls with buttresses, the great Perpendicular-Gothic church. The Romanesque Nave and central tower were built 1377; an eastern arm was extended in 1130 and the staircase tower in 1166. The Quire was rebuilt after a fire in 1174 in the French Gothic style, the first such in England , with round arched windows with rounded arches above..
    The Bell Harry tower houses a bell given by Henry Eastry to hang in the original romanesque tower which was replaced in 1498 by the present tower. It is at the junction of the transept and the Nave.
    The porch at the south west is round and has monarchs and clergy from different periods of the Cathedral's history.

    The Precincts are open from 7.00-21.00
    The Cathedral is open from 9.00 to 18.30 from Easter to September and from 9.00- 16.30 from October to Easter.
    On Sunday it is open from 12.30-14.30 and 16.30-17.30

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    Canterbury Cathedral Interior

    by uglyscot Updated Jan 22, 2013

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    To go into the cathedral costs £7.50. Photography is not allowed without a permit, but when I asked , I was told this only applies to the crypt.
    Inside is so vast and atmospheric. Religious chanting and a service were taking place, and inspite of all the visitors, there was strong atmosphere of calm.
    The Nave , built 1377, is high with clustered column shafts branching out into rib vaulting. A flight of stone steps lead to a mid 15th Century stone screen which divides the church into two main parts. The screen is heavily ornamented with niches containing the original effigies of 6 English kingsa- Henry V, Richard II, Ethelbert of Kent, Edward the Confessor, Henry IV and Henry VI. The present screen dates from c 1455.
    The Crypt or Chapel of the Holy Innocents is Norman . St Michael's Chapel in the south west transept, also called the Warrior Chapel with monuments to knights and soldiers. The banners belong to the East Kent Regiment [The Buffs]

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    Cathedral: take the time to look....

    by leics Written Jan 21, 2013

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    Canterbury cathedral is overwhelming in its size, magnificence and sheer wealth of historical interest.

    Look out for:

    the original battlefield headgear of the Black Prince (1330-1376), looking rather like a large stuffed toy stuck on his helmet!;

    the superb crab representing Cancer on the Zodiac tiles where Beckett's shrine once stood;

    the beautiful Medieval stained-glass windows in Trinity Chapel;

    the detailed wall-painting of the story of St Eustace, dating from 1480 and also in Trinity Chapel;

    two huge stone columns from the original Saxon church at Reculver (670AD) , brought to the cathedral for safekeeping and now in the crypt;

    very early Medieval carved column capitals in the crypt;

    ...and much, much more.

    Do allow yourself plenty of time to explore (an hour really won't be enough): the cathedral is a huge building with a huge amount to see.

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    The interior: Beckett

    by leics Written Jan 21, 2013

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    Site of the murder
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    Canterbury cathedral is possibly most famous for being the site of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket, slaughtered on the spot now marked by a floor slab and a (rather odd, imo) modern sword sculpture. His murder in 1170, ordered by King Henry ll (although it is probable the king did not expect his outburst to be acted upon) was shocking at the time it occurred and led not only to the king doing formal penance but also to the canonisation of Becket (1173... a very quick canonisation). Some of the miracles ascribed to Beckett (which began almost immediately after his death) can be seen in the beautiful Medieval stained-glass windows in the Trinity Chapel.

    These events swiftly turned the cathedral into a place of pilgrimage (hence the need for lodgings such as Eastbridge Hospital and the writing of Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales') with Becket's original burial place in the cathedral crypt having holes inside through which pilgrims could kiss the tomb itself.

    Beckett's coffin was moved ('translated') into the cathedral proper in 1220, placed in a shrine which was magnificently jewelled and gilded. There it stayed until the reign of king Henry Vlll. He called for Becket to appear before the court on a charge of treason (speaking against Henry ll) and...amazingly, despite the trumpeter's blowing...Beckett did not appear in order to defend himself. So in 1538 Henry Vlll was able to dismantle the shrine and take all its wealth without being concerned that he had acted illegally.

    Nothing remains of that shrine now, apart from a magnificent Zodiac tiled floor (1200s). A lit candle marks the spot where it once stood. If you go down into the crypt (and you definitely should) you will see a rather wonderful Anthony Gormley sculpture of a man ('Transport'), seemingly suspended in space between his first tomb and the shrine above. The sculpture is made of 400 Medieval nails taken from the cathedral's roof and is really rather wonderful. I note from Gormley's site that it is 'on loan' until 2012: it may not be there when you visit.

    Thomas Beckett is not the only reason for visiting the cathedral, of course (see my other tips). But his story, and its effect on both the cathedral and on the city, is definitely important enough to warrant a tip of its own.

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    Cathedral: the exterior

    by leics Written Jan 21, 2013

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    Do take the time to have a good look at the exterior of Canterbury's wonderful Medieval cathedral.

    At the time of writing there are ongoing restoration works on the southern and eastern sides, but until those are complete you can still explore the western side.

    You'll find many intricate and detailed carvings, further testament to the superb skill of Medieval craftsmen (as if the sheer size of the structure were not evidence enough). Some have been restored or replaced (you can easily tell by the colour of the stone) but many are original.

    Conserving a building as old as the cathedral is an ongoing, and very expensive, issue. You can read a little about the work of the cathedral stonemasons and conservators on the link below.

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    Visit Canterbury Cathedral

    by Herkbert Written Sep 17, 2011

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    Canterbury Cathedral is truly a special place. First and foremost, it is still a working, living church where services are held. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is the Mother Church for Anglicans worldwide. The choir was practicing while we were there and it was inspiring.

    There is so much to see at the Cathedral. One place not to be missed is the Crypt. It is the oldest part of the church dating back to the 11th century. Another place not to be missed is the Chapter House. Pay special attention to the stained glass windows at both ends of the room - the depictions are quite interesting. The room is also the place where many important decisions have been made throughout history.

    It is a beautiful place to see, but it is also a quiet, respectful place to reflect on all that is meaningful to you. Don't pass up the opportunity to share in its spirituality.

    The cathedral is open daily and guided tours are available. Photography is allowed, but not in the crypt or during services.

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  • Igraine's Profile Photo

    Cathedral

    by Igraine Written Nov 24, 2008

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    Choir
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    I have been the cathedral twice now. Once with Natalie and then we just wandered around. Strolling from one place to the other, admiring the architecture, sculpting or the famous people entombed in the cathedral. The second time I did a tour with a guide and that is highly recommended. Unless you are not interested in hearing tons of background information and history.
    This volunteer, a senior citizen is i believe the right word, knew every nook and cranny of this church and its history. It brought the whole place to life in a way a only a person with a lot of knowledge about a place can do. And me being a bit of a (art) history nut certainly appreciated it.
    All in all this cathedral is a splendid building loaded with history. I certainly did not regret my second visit. If I come to Canterbury again i will visit a third time for sure.

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  • Igraine's Profile Photo

    Cathedral

    by Igraine Written Nov 24, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Choir
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    I have been the cathedral twice now. Once with Natalie and then we just wandered around. Strolling from one place to the other, admiring the architecture, sculpting or the famous people entombed in the cathedral. The second time I did a tour with a guide and that is highly recommended. Unless you are not interested in hearing tons of background information and history.
    This volunteer, a senior citizen is i believe the right word, knew every nook and cranny of this church and its history. It brought the whole place to life in a way a only a person with a lot of knowledge about a place can do. And me being a bit of a (art) history nut certainly appreciated it.
    All in all this cathedral is a splendid building loaded with history. I certainly did not regret my second visit. If I come to Canterbury again i will visit a third time for sure.

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  • smschley's Profile Photo

    Canterbury Cathedral

    by smschley Updated Dec 31, 2007

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    Canterbury Cathedral, consecrated sometime around 602 C.E. is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in the world. It is the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the religious leader of the Church of England.

    The Vikings sacked the church and it was later repaired and enlarged, only to be devastated by a fire in 1067, a year after the Norman conquest of England. By 1077, it was rebuilt as a Norman church, described as "nearly perfect". A staircase and parts of the North Wall remain from that building

    A dark chapter in the history of the Cathedral was the assassination of Thomas Becket in the north-east Transept on Tuesday 29 December 1170 by Knights who overheard King Henry II say "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" or something to that effect when he was having troubles with Becket. The guards took it literally and murdered Becket in his own Cathedral.

    The work of the Cathedral as a monastery came to an end in 1540, when the monastery was closed on the orders of King Henry VIII. After it’s change from Catholicism to the Church of England, its role as a place of prayer continued – as it does to this day. Once the monastery had been suppressed, responsibility for the services and upkeep was given to a group of clergy known as the Dean and Chapter. Today, the Cathedral is still governed by the Dean and four Canons, together with four lay people and the Archdeacon of Maidstone.

    During the Civil War of the 1640s, the Cathedral suffered damage at the hands of the Puritans; much of the medieval stained glass was smashed and horses were stabled in the nave. After the Restoration in 1660, several years were spent in repairing the building.

    In the early 19th Century, the North West tower was demolished in the early 1830s and replaced by a copy of the South West tower, thus giving a symmetrical appearance to the west end of the Cathedral. During the Second World War, the Precincts were heavily damaged by enemy action and the Cathedral’s Library

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    Canterbury Cathedral

    by unexplored Written Jun 21, 2007
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    To match Canterbury's growing ecclesiastical rank as a major centre of Christianity, the first Norman archbishop, Lanfrac, ordered a new cathedral to be built on the ruins of the Anglo-Saxon cathedral in 1070. It was enlarged and rebuilt many times and as a result embraces examples of all styles of medieval architecture. The most poignant moment in its history came in 1170 when Thomas a Becket was murdered here. Four years after his death a fire devastated the cathedral and Trinity Chapel was built to house Becket's remains. The shrine quickly became an important religious site and until the Dissolution the cathedral was one of Christendom's chief places of pilgrimage.

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  • Cathedral

    by Italianmanboy Updated Mar 31, 2007

    A visit to Canterbury is not complete without visiting the Cathedral. Me and my brother spent about an hour going around and were astonished by the beauty, the lasting Gothic architecture and the tranquility of one of the world's oldest cathedrals. I understand a little of the history is this:- The Cathedral's history goes back to 597AD when St Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great as a missionary, established his seat (or 'Cathedra') in Canterbury. In 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and ever since, the Cathedral has attracted thousands of pilgrims, as told famously in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

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    canterbury cathedral

    by doug48 Written Oct 8, 2006

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    canterbury cathedral

    canterbury cathedral is the oldest and one of the most beautuful in england. the first archbishop of canterbury was st. augustine in 597AD. it is the longest cathedral in europe. canterbury cathedral houses the tombs of king henry IV and prince edward, the black prince. undeniably the most famous archbishop of canterbury was thomas a' becket. becket was murdered by knights of king henry II in the cathedral in 1170. this murder elevated thomas a' becket to a christain martyr and thousands made pilgrimages to the cathedral in medieval times. these pilgrimages were described in geoffrey chaucer's "canterbury tales". an important religious and historical site to visit in england.

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    Canterbury Cathedral.

    by hundwalder Updated Jul 24, 2006

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    The Canterbury Cathedral which dominates the center of the city, is the longest Christian cathedral in the world, and is also one of the most important places of worship anywhere.

    A church was first built on the site in AD 597, but construction of the present cathedral commenced in 1077. Like all other medieval structures of its size, it took hundreds of years to complete, and several architectural styles were utilized. A bold and very elaborate Gothic style dominates. Photo #1 is a closeup view of the front and of the two enormous belfries that flank the sides of the great arched entranceway. Photo #2 shows the entire length of the cathedral. Walking around the cathedral will give you a real treat in Gothic geometric detail.

    The interior of the church including the vast catacombs, can take hours to explore for those having the time. The very long single nave is surrounded by tombs of royalty, knights, and religious leaders. The tombs which are very ornate, include those of King Henry IV and the black prince. The cathedral is filled with sculptures crafted by the masters.

    Thomas Becket was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1162, by King Henry II. A legandary struggle later ensued between Becket and the king regarding the rights, priveleges, and policies, of the church in the kingdom of England. The point was eventually reached where the king was facing excommunication from the Catholic church. The king in desperation ordered his knights to assasinate Becket. The location in the cathedral where Becket was assasinated is marked by the altar of the sword's point. A detailed account of the historic event can be heard at the assasination site. Becket is entombed in the cathedral's catacombs.

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    Majestic Canterbury Cathedral

    by Jenniflower Updated Apr 14, 2006

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    Majestic Canterbury Cathedral

    The first Archbishop of Canterbury was St Augustine who arrived on the coast of Kent, England as a missionary in 597 AD. He came from Rome, and was sent by Pope Gregory the Great. Today it is traditionally Anglican.

    Canterbury Cathedral lies at the centre of this beautiful and historic city. This powerful piece of architecture rises above the city and can be seen for miles and miles around, and is in very good order. This is a beautiful and ancient building. From the turrets to the walkways, to the sculptures, to the friezes. Everywhere you look you see something new and exciting!

    The cathedral is linked to quite a few famous historical people, the most famous being Thomas Becket who was murdered here in 1170. You CANNOT visit Canterbury and miss visiting this fine piece of architecture and history :)

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  • aukahkay's Profile Photo

    Canterbury Cathedral

    by aukahkay Written Mar 26, 2006
    Canterbury Cathedral
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    Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It is the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. As well as being the mother church of the Diocese of Canterbury (east Kent) it is the focus for the Anglican Communion. The Cathedral's first Archbishop was St. Augustine, previously Abbott of St. Andrew's Benedictine Abbey in Rome, sent to England by Pope Gregory the Great, arriving in 597 AD.

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