Canterbury Cathedral

Thomas Becket being murdered inside Canterbury Cathedral turned it into a place of pilgrimage for Christians.

Canterbury Cathedral
The main entrance into Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
My friend Adel and I infront of Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

After the Kingdom of Kent‘s conversion to Christianity in 597, St Augustine founded the Canterbury Cathedral and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Today it forms a World Heritage Site, along with the Saxon St. Martin’s Church and the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey. Canterbury Cathedral, in South East England,  is a popular tourist destination and actually one of the most-visited cities in the United Kingdom. Personally I think it is one of the most beautiful as well.

 

I got to visit this stunning Cathedral with my very good friend Adel who shares my love for travel and history. I couldn’t wait to visit the Cathedral in which Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. This gruesome event led to the Cathedral becoming a place of pilgrimage for Christians worldwide.

Entering the stunning Canterbury Cathedral
Entering the stunning Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

The archbishop, Thomas Becket  was murdered in the north-west transept  of the Cathedral on Tuesday 29 December 1170 by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket over the rights and privileges of the Church.

In June 1170, Roger de Pont L’Évêque, the archbishop of York, along with Gilbert Foliot, the bishop of London, and Josceline de Bohon, the bishop of Salisbury, crowned Henry the Young King at York.

Canterbury Cathedral
What a beautiful sight!

This was a breach of Canterbury’s privilege of coronation, and in November 1170 Becket excommunicated all three. While the three clergymen fled to the king in Normandy, Becket continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church, the news of which also reached Henry.

Canterbury Cathedral
The high vaults of the Cathedral took my breath away!
Canterbury Cathedral
What a beautiful place to listen to a church service
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

Upon hearing reports of Becket’s actions King Henry is said to have exclaimed in frustration, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” The knights took it literally and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. I was told that he was beheaded while kneeling down to pray during the church service that day. Becket was the second of four Archbishops of Canterbury who were murdered.

Today Thomas Becket  is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Churchand the Anglican Communion. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.

Canterbury Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral we were greeted by elkaborate arches and doorway

 

Canterbury Cathedral
The choir stalls through the archway
Canterbury Cathedral
The Cathedral is filled with low hanging chandeliers

Although it was founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. The Norman nave and transepts survived until the late fourteenth century, when they were demolished to make way for the present structures.

 

Canterbury Cathedral
The dome of the Chapel
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

In 1180-4, in place of the old, square-ended, eastern chapel, the present Trinity chapel was constructed, a broad extension with an ambulatory, designed to house the shrine of St Thomas Becket. A further chapel, circular in plan, was added beyond that, which housed further relics of Becket,  widely believed to have included the top of his skull, struck off in the course of his assassination. This latter chapel became known as the “Corona” or “Becket’s Crown”.Work on the chapel was completed in 1184,  but Becket’s remains were not moved from his tomb in the crypt until 1220.

Canterbury Cathedral
The Cathedral is filled with delicate leadglass windows
Canterbury Cathedral
A candle marks the original spot of Beckets tomb
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

The shrine of Thomas Becket in the Trinity Chapel was placed directly above Becket’s original tomb in the crypt. A marble plinth, raised on columns, supported what an early visitor, Walter of Coventry, described as “a coffin wonderfully wrought of gold and silver, and marvellously adorned with precious gems”. Other accounts make clear that the gold was laid over a wooden chest, which in turn contained an iron-bound box holding Becket’s remains. For much of the time the chest was kept concealed by a wooden cover, which would be theatrically raised by ropes once a crowd of pilgrims had gathered. 

Canterbury Cathedral
The crypt where Pylgrims gather….

The shrine was removed in 1538. Henry VIII summoned the dead saint to court to face charges of treason. Having failed to appear, he was found guilty in his absence and the treasures of his shrine were confiscated, carried away in two coffers and twenty-six carts. I think this was a very sneaky way to get hold of all his riches and donations from pilgrims all over the world. 

Canterbury Cathedral
Inside the Lady Chappel of Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Walking down the abbey corridor

The adjoining abbey is mostly deserted with the original lying in ruins next to the Cathedral. I think Canterbury Cathedral is definitely one of Englands most stunning Cathedrals to explore.

Canterbury Cathedral
The Cathedral from the Abbey courtyard
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Advertisements

20 comments

Please share your thoughts,I want to know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s