Of course you can't come to Canterbury without visiting one of the most architecturally beautiful and historically important cathedral in the UK. This is where Archbishop Thomas a Becket was murdered by four of Henry II's Knights in 1170. His shrine became one of the most important pilgrimage sites of the Middle Ages. Thousands of tourists still flock here every year and it gets incredibly busy in the summer. Check the website for details of opening times for the Cathedral.
Iknow, iknow, you've seen it all before loads of times, but you will have to suffer and see it again hahahahaha, anybody that visits this city will surely take a snap shot of this, Canterbury cathederal, thomas becket and all that stuff has been explained over and over again so i won't bore you with the history, just force yourself to have another look at the photo hehehehehe
Canterbury Cathedral is one of Britain's most historic churches. The first archbishop of Canterbury was St. Augustine, who arrived as a missionary in 597 AD. King Ethelbert gave him a church, which became the first cathedral in Britain.
In the 12th century, King Henry II appointed his friend Thomas Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Aftter the two had a falling out, and a power struggle, four of King Henry's knights took matters into their own hands. They went into the Cathedral and murdered Becket inside. The site of this crime is marked by a small shrine called the Altar of the Sword's Point (see the last photo).
During the English Civil War of the 17th century, the Cathedral was sacked by the Puritans. It took years to repair all the damage.
Much of the Cathedral is accessible to wheelchair users. A couple of stair lifts help to overcome obstacles within the premises of the Cathedral.
An excellent leaflet describes the facilities available. It can be downloaded from the Website of the Cathedral.
As said in the previous tip half the cathedral was sectioned off because there was a ceremony going on all day for the graduates. Because the entrance price to the cathedral was heavily reduced and I didn't really know what to expect of the cathedral's interior anyway I decided to buy a ticket anyway. Previously I hadn't seen any pictures of the interior, so I wouldn't know what I would miss out on either.
So I went though the gate, and found the most amazing cathedral I have ever seen. I just stood there staring. This is some house of God! And although I'm in the least way religious in any sort of way, I respect the people who invested time money and labour into realising such an amazing piece of work.
Unfortunately I couldn't enter the church through the main entrance sine the nave was part of the cathedral not open to the public today. Therefore I had to walk around the front to the northern side of the cathedral where the Great Cloister is.
If there is one Cathedral worth visiting , this must be one of them ...
For at least fourteen hundred years the worship of God has been offered on the site of this Cathedral, and through the prayers of the Church His power and grace have shaped human lives.
St John’s Gospel, Chapter 12:
“There were certain Greeks among them, who came up to worship at the feast. They came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
The view after entering the Chirst Church gate
The Cathedral Church was founded in 597 AD by St Augustine whose original cathedral lies beneath the floor of the nave. It looks vast although in reality, from this point, it is only possible to see about half of its total length of around 540 feet. The main "Bell Harry" Tower rises to 235 feet and is located approximately in the centre of the building. The original Saxon church was destroyed by fire in 1067 and rebuilt again by the Normans in 1070. The quire and some of the ancient stained glass windows date from the 12th century
£12.50 Family (with 2 adults)
£ 10.50 Famiy (with 1 adult)
Before we head for the Cathedral, we had a real English cuisine...something which you can hardly find in London...shame. After a big yummy lunch and a few snapping of pics ( a common ritual of VTers ) . We head straight away to the Cathedral ....its is so huge , collossal indeed ...and towering ....its so difficult to capture it all in a pic ...we are so eagerly queuing for our turn to step inside one of England's most historical place ...and we can even feel aura of the cathedral and occasional breeze of emotions perhaps from the spirits dwelling inside
The cathedral became a place of pilgrimage in the middle ages and Geoffrey Chaucer
set his famous Canterbury Tales about pilgrims on their way to the shrine of the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket .
The Christ Church Gate separates the Canterbury Cathedral grounds from town. It is very beautifully carved and one of the highlights of walking through the town. The gate was completed in about 1517. The sculpture of Christ in the middle is not an original. The original was torn down and smashed by a Puritan fanatic in the 1600's.
A stone inscription in the Martyrdom commemorates the historic visit by Pope John Paul II to the Canterbury Cathedral. It reads:
"In this place hallowed by the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket 29 December 1170, Pope John Paul II and Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, knelt together in prayer 29 May 1982."
The Martyrdom is the area where Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered on December 29, 1170. He was a close friend of King Henry II but challenged the King's power stating that the church was supreme. 4 knights overheard the King saying "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" and traveled to Canterbury to commit the murder in a chapel on the side of the Cathedral. Becket was canonized a short time later. Soon after, pilgrims started making their way to the Cathedral because of miracles being performed at the Shrine of St. Thomas.
A small altar called the Altar of the Sword's Point marks the spot of the murder.
The Warriors Chapel, also St. Michael's Chapel, is where the colors of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment are laid. A simple ceremony is held daily to pray for peace and honor those who have died in battle. If you look at the book in the picture, it is the Memorial Book of Names. A page is turned every day.
The Pulpitum is the area that separates the Nave from the Quire. You can't see it in the picture, but on each side of the doors there are kings carved out of stone. They are Richard II, Henry V, Ethelbert, Edward the Confessor, Henry IV, and Henry VI.
Parts of the marble floor show wear from the knees of pilgrims who made the journey to the Shrine of Thomas Becket. I didn't get to see the actual steps or the shrine because it was closed, but it is something to look out for.
The picture is of the floor near the pulpit. The inscription in Greek translates to "The truth frees us".
The Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited. It has its beginnings with St. Augustine arriving in Canterbury in 597 to set up the Christian church there. He became the first Archbishop of Canterbury and built the first cathedral in 602. It lasted over 400 years until it burned down in 1067. The Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury who oversees the world's entire Anglican community.
Work on the current Cathedral began in 1070 and really hasn't stopped, although the official completion date was 1503. There have been many renovations and additions and not much of the original Cathedral remains.
Visiting hours are 9am-6:30pm in the summer and 9am-5pm in the winter. On Sundays, hours are 9am-2:30pm in the summer and 10am-2pm and 4:30pm-5:30pm. Check the website for special events and scheduled closings. Admission is charged and permits must be purchased for photography. Audio tours are available.
See my other tips for more specific info. Unfortunately, parts of the Cathedral were closed during my visit so I don't have pictures of the whole thing and can't tell you everything about it. Parts that were closed were: the Quire, Crypt, and the back of the Cathedral with the Shrine of St. Thomas and the Tomb of the Black Prince.
You really get a sense of how big the Cathedral is when you step inside and see how open it is. It isn't the biggest cathedral in England but it really inspires quite an overwhelming feeling when you look around. It is very plain, but the stone carvings are amazing.