Canterbury Cathedral, England

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent,  England

The World Heritage Site covers Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church.

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in England. It is the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of All England and leader of the Church of England. The formal title is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury. The Cathedral's first Archbishop was St. Augustine who was sent to England from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great, arriving in 597 AD.

Canterbury's other important monuments are the modest Church of St Martin, the oldest church in England; the ruins of the Abbey of St Augustine, a reminder of the saint's evangelizing role in the Heptarchy.

Canterbury Cathedral

St. Bede the Venerable records that the Cathedral was founded by St. Augustine, the first Archbishop. Archaeological investigations in 1993 revealed the remains of this first Saxon Cathedral under the Nave floor, which had actually been built across a Roman road to give it good foundations.

The main phases of building are listed below

Thomas Becket was murdered in the north-east Transept on Tuesday 29 December 1170. Becket was the second of four archbishops of Canterbury to be murdered.

The Cathedral ceased to be an abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Canterbury surrendered in March 1539, the last abbey to do.

St Martins Church, Canterbury

St Martins Church, Canterbury

This church is believed to be the oldest parish church in England that has been in continuous use. It was in use in the 6th Century when Queen Bertha (wife of King Ethelbert), the Christian Queen of Kent, before the arrival of St. Augustine from Rome.

The church may well have been iin operation in the 5th Century, towards the end of the Roman occupation of England. The church building contains many Roman bricks. Bede refers to a church on the East side of the City and suggests that it was in use in the late Roman period.

St Augustines Abbey, Canterbury

St Augustines Abbey, Canterbury

Saint Augustine, sent to England by Pope Gregory I, was allowed by Ethelbert, King of Kent, to found a monastery just outside the walls of Canterbury. One of the main purposes of the abbey was as a burial place for the Kings of Kent and the Archbishops of Canterbury. In 978 a new larger building was dedicated by Archbishop Dunstan, to the Saints Peter, Paul, and Augustine. And by 1100 all remains of the original Anglo Saxon building had disappeared under a massive romanesque edifice, to which an Almonry was added in 1154.

1250 onwards, the cloister, lavatorium, frater and kitchen were rebuilt and a grand new abbot's lodging was built and the range was extended to provide a great hall. A new crenellated Great Gate was built in 1309 and in 1320 a new walled vineyard. An earthquake in 1382 destroyed some of the abbey, but it was rebuilt. 1390 the gatehouse that still survives was built. The last thing to be built was a Lady Chapel, to the east of the church. By 1500 the abbey had a library that contained more than 2000 volumes, a very large number for the time.

On July 30, 1538, the abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII and was systematically dismantled over the next fifteen years.

This palace was leased in the early 1600s to Edward Lord Wotton, who employed John Tradescent, to lay out formal gardens around it. This palace is thought to have survived until a great storm in 1703, which damaged the already ruined abbey.

Now a World Heritage Site, the ruins are in the care of English Heritage. The ruin precincts cover a large area east of the cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral Site

Canterbury Cathedral Wikipedia

St Martins Church

St Augustines Abbey - English Heritage

St Augustines Abbey, Wikipedia


World Heritage Sites in Britain