Canterbury has seen pilgrims since the Middle Ages. But even before that the Romans were here and the first cathedral already stood in Canterbury at the end of the 6th century. Driving there from Bethersden, our main hub, to Canterbury took ages., my preferred offline road guide, led us mostly through one way back roads. The drive was scenic, but didn’t leave much room to explore Canterbury before we needed to arrive at the cathedral.

first impression of the city @Canterbury

We had booked our tickets for the entrance online and our entry window was the hour before noon. Shortly before the appointed hour we made it to the cathedral and booked an additional guided tour.

first impression of the cathedral @Canterbury

The tour was really worth every penny, our knowledgeable guide lead us around the cathedral for almost two hours. The church from the 6th century on this site had been completely rebuilt around 1070. Enlargements, restorations, and rebuilding followed during the coming centuries. Some renovations even lead to bizarre architectural features. Like this tomb which was too long for the side chapel, and now just sticks out on the side.

the tomb is too long @Canterbury Cathedral

The violent death of Thomas Becket , at the hands of men in the pay of Henry II., in 1170 on site lead to a huge pilgrim influx. A fire in the following years was conveniently used for enlargements to better direct the pilgrims.

inside the cathedral @Canterbury

All the way at the end you can see the quire screen. It looks amazing when you get closer.

quire screen @Canterbury Cathedral

pulpit in the front @Canterbury Cathedral

one of the many beautiful stained glass windows @Canterbury Cathedral

a close up from the ceiling of the bell tower @Canterbury Cathedral

Becket’s remains have been destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII. So unfortunately the golden box with his bones cannot be viewed anymore. But at the alleged killing place stands a little altar with a cross, made from swords, above.

the alleged killing spot of Thomas Becket @Canterbury Cathedral

The altar area behind the quire screen was actually not that interesting. I rather like the idea that the common folk always stared the beautiful screen imagining what went on behind.

the altar behind the quire screen @Canterbury Cathedral

In the aisle around the altar area there was the tomb of the ‘Black Prince‘, the son of Edward III. Due to his death his son, Richard II., became king at the young age of 10 years. His mismanagement lead to his removal and further on to the ‘Wars of Roses‘.  In any case the Black Prince was one of the greatest knights of his time.

a close-up of the effigy of the Black Prince on top of his tomb @Canterbury Cathedral

His shield and cloak above his tomb are only copies. The originals are displayed in the crypt.

the tomb of the Black Prince @Canterbury Cathedral

His was not the only tomb around the apse, but maybe the oldest. Here is one from an archbishop, which looked a lot more pompous.

tomb of an archbishop @Canterbury Cathedral

But also the side chapels, like here St. Michael’s chapel, have resting places for important people.

one of the side chapels @Canterbury Cathedral

The crypt below has a couple of interesting graffiti, which were really cool to look at, but hard to capture. Here is my attempt of taking a picture of one.

graffiti in the crypt @Canterbury Cathedral

In the crypt there is also a small exhibition, so take your time while you are down below. There is much to discover.

Also, do not miss the Chapter House and the cloister on the north side of the Cathedral.

the convent @Canterbury Cathedral

beautiful covered cloister @Canterbury Cathedral

Chapter House @Canterbury Cathedral

After this extensive cathedral visit, we stopped at the sandwich place on the cathedral grounds for something cold to drink. The view from there on the cathedral is lovely.

the view on the cathedral from the sandwich shop @Canterbury Cathedral

Once outside the cathedral area, we walked to the Old Weavers House to see the ducking stool. This stool was used for all kinds of people as punishment. The Inn itself is in a really old building and deserves a closer look because of the ducking stool. I wouldn’t stay for a meal though. Yours, Pollybert

the ducking stool @Canterbury

inside dining room @Old Weavers House

way to the terrace @Old Weavers House

Let me know what you think

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