Day 3 , April 7, 2003 - Monday

     London to Canterbury

    We ate breakfast in the Carvery in the Thistle hotel, checked out and took at taxi to Victoria Station.  A nice man helped us figure out which train to take to Canterbury.  We missed the 9:05 by a minute.  We caught the next train, and had to change trains at Faversham.  We arrived in Canterbury and took a taxi to the hotel.       

    We had made reservations in Canterbury Gate Hotel because the information said it was next to the CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL (model).   Actually the hotel was part of the wall round the cathedral and right next to the gate to the cathedral grounds.   The hotel was built in 1438.   The whole first floor was occupied by Starbucks.  We found this somewhat unsettling even though we love Starbucks.  We climbed some steep steps through a door next to Starbucks.  We checked in and were told that we had to go up a few steps, through a door onto the roof, cross the roof to another door.  Upon entering that door we found a small sitting room and a long hallway that sloped to one side and then the other as we walked it.   Then we took a small elevator to the next floor.    The door to our room matched the slop of the hallway.   The room was small with a large bed.  The view was unbelievab

    e.   We were right opposite the Bell Harry Bell Tower of the Cathedral.   We were so close to the cathedral we couldn’t capture the entire view.   The tower was well lit at night and we could lie in our beds and see the breathtaking view.   The pulpit at the Washington Cathedral is made from stone that was left over after the tower was remodeled in the early 1900s.  I would lay there and wonder just where that stone had been.



    It was a nice day.  There were several groups of students in the square outside our hotel waiting to take a tour of the cathedral.  We found a little cafeteria in the basement of a building across from the cathedral gate.   We were served rather than self service.  We love to tell the story about the young man serving us, who asked us if we wanted “pies” with our meal.  We couldn’t understand what he was saying so he took the top off the serving pan and there were “peas”.  As a fond remembrance of this experience, we most always call peas “pies” when we serve them for dinner. After lunch we shopped around waiting for our appointment time at the cathedral.

    At our scheduled time, we stopped in the cathedral’s visitors office and introduced ourselves as we had written for a private tour and had reservations.   Margaret Hudson was our guide.   She took us into the cathedral and explained 
    some of the history as she led us to the office of the person in charge of the vestments (vestiturer).  He had an office in what was known as the ‘candle room”.   There was a small window that looked down on a chapel in the crypt below.   He told us that this was the room where the monks stayed to watch the body of the murdered Thomas a Becket which was in the chapel below.   One of the cathedral canons joined us at this point.   We went into the vestment room or sacristy.   The vestiturer showed us all the old altar hangings and vestments.   In one closet was the cope of the Archbishop of Canterbury.   The cope is the final vestment that a bishop wears during religious ceremonies. It looks like a big cape.  He had me put it on and have my picture taken.   The three of our guides continued to give us our private tour of the Canterbury Cathedral. 


    Canterbury Cathedral is about the same size as the Washington Cathedral.  The profile on the left is the Washington Cathedral which is 100 feet high compared with Canterbury which is only 70 feet high.  Both cathedrals, which are Gothic in style have an open triforium and stained glass windows in the clerestory.                                


    As with Westminster Abbey, there is a rood or choir (quire) screen between the nave and the choir.  Even though it has a door in the center, it does not give a person standing at the entrance a clear view of the high altar.  Please refer to Westminster Abbey for an explanation of Quire screen or as is sometimes called, the pulpitum.   One of the reasons that Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral have not removed the Rood Screen as other Gothic Cathedrals have is because the pipes of the organ are on top of the quire screen.



       In 597 Gregory the Great sent Augustine to England to Christianize Britain.  Augustine landed in Kent where he found King Ethelbert, who was married to Bertha, a Christian.  Ethelbert gave Augustine land in Canterbury for a monastery.  It wasn’t long before Ethelbert and his knights were baptized.  Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

    There had been Christians in Canterbury in Roman times and a cathedral, which Augustine rehallowed in 602.  About 150 years later Archbishop Cuthbert added a second building as a baptistery and place for the burial of archbishops.  That building no longer exists.  In 1011 Canterbury was burned when the Danes invaded.  In 1067 the cathedral again burned beyond repair by a fire in the city. In 1077 a new cathedral was built by Lanfranc in the Romanesque style.  When Anselm became Archbishop in 1093, he added the towers, a crypt and an extensive choir.  Again fire struck in 1174.  The next year the monks choose William of Sens to begin rebuilding the choir in the new Gothic style.  Unfortunately in 1178 William fell while working on a high vault and was permanently injured.    His work was completed by William the Englishman.  In 1377 the old Romanesqu
    e nave was demolished and new one was built in the early Perpendicular Gothic style.   The Perpendicular style’s emphasis was upon height and masses of vertical line branching upward into the sprays of rib-vaulting.  This was completed in 1405, taking 28 years to finish.  In 1414 the southwest transept for completed and the northwest transept in 1468.  The Bell Harry bell tower was completed in 1494.


    Up until the time of the English Reformation under Henry VIII in 1509, Canterbury Cathedral was under the authority of the Roman Church and the Pope.  With Henry’s break from the Pope and the Church, the churches in England became part of the Anglican Church or the Church of England as they are today. The Archbishop of Canterbury remains the spiritual head of the Church of England and the world-wide Anglican Communion.

    Our guides gave us an exceptional tour emphasizing all of the history and architectural of various parts of the cathedral.  Unlike St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, we were allowed to take  
    photos inside except for the crypt areas where flash could damage the old paintings.  Like many Gothic churches we will visit on our quest, Canterbury had a chapel behind the high altar in the Apse.  This chapel, Trinity Chapel, was located in the Apse. It was in this chapel that the shrine for Thomas Becket was placed from 1220 until its destruction in 1538.  

    Trinity Chapel, at the eastern extremity of the Cathedral, is now dedicated to the Saints and Martyrs of Our Time. Originally it contained a relic of the part of Thomas' skull which was cut off when he was martyred.

    There are volumes that have been written about the history and architecture of Canterbury cathedral, from the Romanesque chapels in the crypt to the soaring perpendicular columns, the nave and choir, the exquisite stained glass windows, and the tombs and monuments to the clerical and royal champions of English history.

    After the tour, we did a little shopping.  We were cold, and we didn’t expect England to be so cold in April.  I bought a green plaid scarf.   We went back to the cathedral for Evensong in the choir. The students in the cathedral schools were on spring vacation so Evensong was said.    We had dinner in the tea room of the hotel.   

    NEXT DAY   

    DAY 1 - London

    DAY 2 - London

    DAY 3 - Canterbury

    DAY 4 - Leed's Castle

    DAY 5 - Salisbury

    DAY 6 - Salisbury/Stonehenge

    DAY 7 - Bath and Wells

    DAY 8 - Bath

    DAY 9 - Bath and London


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