Before you ever get to view the Cathedral in all it's splendour, you have to go through the gate into the Precincts. But what a gate! It is a magnificent structure in it's own right, and well worthy of attention.
Although details of the construction are not entirely clear, it is believed to have been completed in about 1517 as a memorial tribute to Arthur, Prince of Wales who was the eldest son of Henry VII, and therefore brother to the future Henry VIII..
Update August 2013.
In the interests of fair reporting, I should state that I first posted this tip in 2005, shortly after I joined VT. I re-visited it today to amend a broken hyperlink and found out that much has happened to this historic gateway since I wrote it.
In December 2011 the gates were removed for much needed renovation as they were showing the effects of over three centuries exposed to the elements. They were replaced with temporary facsimile gates whilst the work was carried out. I suppose this just goes to show how difficult it is to keep VT tips up to date. Hopefully this tip is now current and the new hyperlink, which provides an excellent history of the gate, is working.
Christchurch Gate is one of the ancient entrances to the cathedral precincts, accessed from Buttermarket and where you'll get your ticket to the cathedral.
It is simply lovely. Cathedral records show the gate was built between 1504 and 1521 (even though an inscription on the gate itself dates it to 1507) and is wonderfully twiddly, although worn and damaged in parts. Look closely at the right-hand side to see all the tiny animals in my photo. There's also a hermaphrodite on the arch somewhere, though it is above my sight level (it is suggested that this was created by 'a mason having some fun')
The turrets were removed in the early 1800s, to allow the good citizens of Canterbury to see the cathedral clock. They were replaced in the 1930s.
The bronze figure is a recent addition (1990), finally replacing the original figure of Christ which was destroyed by the Roundheads in 1642 (they, being iconoclasts, happily used it for target practice).
Look at the wooden doors if you can: they are beautifully detailed and also very old. The gate deserves a good, close look before you pa your money and go into the cathedral precincts.
Christ Church Gate, leading into the cathedral precincts was built in 1517-1520 as a memorial to Henry VIII's deceased brother Arthur. The gate, built in the Gothic style features Christ in the center amidst carvings and shields. Major restoration was done from 1931 to 937.
This has to be one of Canterbury's best landmarks, its the main way into the cathederal and where you pay to enter. The main figure in the center of the gate is a carving of christ which was destroyed in 1642 by pariamentarians and was beautifully restored to its former glory in 1991
Opposite the TIC on Burgate you will find the Christ Church Gate, which is the entrance to the cathedral grounds. The Burgate side of the gate is richly decorated with beautifully carved religious people. In the centre of it all you can see Jesus.
Under the arch you will find a ticket booth where you can buy your ticket (obviously). Unfortunately when I was to buy my ticket they told me half the cathedral was closed because there would be a ceremony all day for the graduates. Of course on the one day I'm here!
how it all begin
The first Archbishop of Canterbury was St Augustine who arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 597 AD. He came from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory the Great.
The story goes that Gregory had seen "Angle" slaves for sale in the city market and struck by their beauty, had remarked "not Angles but Angels". Such a people he was convinced should be converted to Christianity, and ordered Augustine and a group of monks to set out for England.
behold , my servant
On his arrival Augustine was given a church at Canterbury by the local King Ethelbert whose Queen, Bertha, was already a Christian. This building had been a place of worship during the Roman occupation of Britain. Soon consecrated Bishop, Augustine established his seat (or "cathedra") in this place as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. The present archbishop, Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, is 104th in the line of succession
It was 1 pm and I am supposed to meet VT Kentishgirl but then she is no where to be seen , a little nervous. Will she show up ? I am sure Ali will, but did we agree on the right place to meet ? While a hundreds questions were playing in my mind ...from faraway I saw Ali my fren ...I was so relieved and slowly we walked towards the historical city of Cantebury. And the pic is a beautiful gate that will greet you before you reach the Cathedral.If you notice, the green statue is so contrasting to the old wall....why ?
This mysterious gate needs to be observed for a long time from three different distances. From far away, Christ seems to look lonesome. Then, as one gets closer, Christ seems to be smiling. However, if one stands right under the statue of Christ, one can see the bulging eyes and Christ seems to have a fearsome and judgemental look...Christ the Eternal Judge! I did this observation at least four times and each time it was the same. If I am crazy, please state so and send me a message. Observe for youself when in Canterbury.
This beautiful gate is located just above the main entrance to the Cathedral.
Its just stunning and the work that has gone into this piece of architecture is outstanding!