Sometimes it's really difficult to start off a post. The words are flowing in your head but actually to begin writing them down takes real time and effort. So, let's just say I have had the most amazing and brain filling two days, absolutely full of historical structures, amazing scenery and excellent intelligent company. A memory maker indeed. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting about my visit to Kent and even though my camera decided to die on me for some strange reason (now working normally again!), there will be four posts to cover my brief time there. The time I spent in Canterbury and surrounding areas has fuelled my love of history even more and this beautiful county has captured my heart and what truly makes me happy and inspired. So, are you ready to visit yet another Cathedral? Grab yourself a hearty cup of tea and a chocolate hob nob, and I'll begin.
Now, I know many of you who have been reading me for a while will go "not again! ... more scaffolding!". Well, yes, there it was, the steel outer shell being carefully constructed as another Cathedral has its necessary repairs to ensure that it lasts for more centuries. I envy those who will be able to go up there and see things that not all of us can see from the ground, so after climbing the scaffolding at Peterborough Cathedral, I know what delights await those who will be lucky enough to see the Cathedral up close and personal, disappearing behind turrets to look at stonework not seen for centuries.
Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and has been a place of worship for more than 1,400 years!
Until the 10th century the people who lived in and around this building would have been the household of the Archbishop but after this it became a community of Benedictine monks until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1540. The original building of St Augustine (the first Archbishop of Canterbury) lies beneath the floor of the nave. Inside the Cathedral it is vast, the carvings exquisite, the Cathedral's structure awe inspiring and the guides are a real asset to this Cathedral, their knowledge and friendliness really made the visit welcoming (it may be worth the canons noting this before being rude to them in front of the general public!... a little complaint here!).
I really wanted to see where Thomas Becket's shrine was and it didn't disappoint. Simplicity is sometimes key, and with the discovery of his shirt being infected by lice after his death, it would make you believe that he was a humble man but it is written that he lived in a more luxurious manner than King Henry II before he became Archbishop. He then experienced a religious conversion and would wear a sackcloth shirt which reached his knees. The King made Thomas the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 and he remained so for eight years. The reasoning for this was so that the King could control him more but this didn't work, so a passing comment of "Is there no one who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" fell on the ears of four knights, Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Moreville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton, and the rest as they say is history!
Beckett was murdered at the entry of the Quire at the Cathedral in 1170 by the four knights and a clerk. It was a brutal murder with Thomas remaining strong to his faith until the last fourth blow, the clerk not inflicting a fifth blow but scattering Thomas' brain and blood on the pavement to say that he will rise no more.
In 1220, his remains were moved from his first tomb to a shrine in the Trinity Chapel. His tomb which became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England, was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries from 1538-1541 and now the pavement where the shrine stood is now marked today with a lighted candle, which to me was more respectful than the ornate carvings of most.
Another amazing feature of this beautiful building is the stained glass. Some pieces take your breath away with the richness and brightness of colour. There are over 1,200 square metres of stained glass in the Cathedral with an estimated cost of £3m for urgent attention.
The Cathedral charges for your visit £12 per person, but ask if you can make your ticket an annual pass which costs no extra and allows you to visit as many times as you want over a twelve month period.
So, that's the Cathedral as a whole and next time I'll show the Black Prince, then Dover Castle and then a beautiful atmospheric place, especially with the wind blowing up a storm, called St Margaret's Bay.
Until next time!