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This is the county seat of Kent.

The Romans called it Durovernum. The Saxon name is a little closer: Cantawarabyrig.

Some of the medieval walls and towers have been preserved, but not on the scale of Chester and York. Still, it's plain to see that the streets weren't deigned for modern cars. We parked "outside the walls."

Canterbury is the home of Henry VIII's Church of England, but the Pope is not completely without influence.

This is the Catholic Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury, also known as Thomas Becket.

Canterbury's Free Library has a small museum upstairs, where we saw this painting of the martyrdom of St. Thomas. There's a glimpse of Canterbury's Protestant church down the street.

Murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral
John Opie, 1793

Thomas Becket was born into patrician society, groomed for an elegant life in service to the Crown. He got a fine secular education, including sports like jousting. Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, recommended him to King Henry II for the important office of Lord Chancellor. In this position he became an effective tax collector and accomplished courtier.

When Theobald died, Henry saw to it that Thomas became the next Archbishop of Canterbury, and was surprised by the change that came over the man. He became ascetic and completely devoted to the Pope, working to free the Church in England from the limitations he himself had previously imposed on it. This annoyed Henry so much that he reportedly said, "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"

Four of the king's knights took this to be an order for execution, and murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral while he was at his evening prayers. The Pope canonized Saint Thomas only a couple of years later; a shrine and tomb were eventually erected in Canterbury Cathedral. Pilgrims came to visit it from all over the kingdom, most notably in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

– drawing from William Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, 1693.

There are references to St. Thomas's early years all over town. He was a pubmaster before he was a priest.

We stopped for a pint at the Bell and Crown.

There is a sign on the Bell and Crown that compares its history with that of the cathedral across the street.

The Bell and Crown

The sign of the Bell and Crown is an ancient one, found at an early date in towns as far apart as Winchester, Liverpool, and London. In the eighteenth century the sign of the Bell alone was commonly inscribed FEAR GOD, HONOUR THE KING, which gives us a clue to the origin of our double sign. From the earliest times church bells have been rung to celebrate royal occasions — the entry of a prince into the world, or into a town, a Royal Marriage or a Royal Death, at times of victory or the announcement of peace to a weary (and thirsty) nation and on other festive occasions.

The Bell and Crown in Palace Street was first licensed in 1862. The name was chosen to commemorate the marriage of the Princess Alice, Queen Victoria's second daughter, to Prince Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse. The marriage took place on the 1st of July 1862. The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess were the maternal Grandparents of (among others) Earl Mountbatten of Burma and his sister Alice, mother of Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.

The earliest tenant of the corner house opposite St. Alphege whose name has come down to us in the records was one Peter Cook who was paying a quarterly rent of eighteen pence in the year 1200. Later in the thirteenth century the house was held by Arnold Eastry then by Thomas of Chilham then Adam Lebel.

By 1433 Walter Bosewyne was the tenant and a succession of quiet and no doubt sober and industrious men kept the house out of the record and out of the news until 1862 when Thomas Newman obtained his license and put up the sign of the Bell and Crown. From that time down to the present day a nearly complete list of the Inn Keepers can be compiled.


Few will deny that it is the "Landlord" who makes a successful pub, not the other way about. The Bell and Crown has been happy in a succession of long-lived healthy landlords. In fact we can all but match the Archbishops, one for one, in their Palace across the street. Arthur Michael Ramsey was a frequent visitor to the Bell & Crown but it is thought unlikely that the present Landlord will be the next Archbishop.

There is a much taller version of this photo here.

Canterbury Cathedral is the Church of England.

This is the Archbishop's pulpit.

The list behind this altar names every Archbishop; from St. Augustine, who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in 597, to George Carey, who was in office when we visited.

The Altar of the Sword's Point, and this modern (1986) sculpture above it, are on the site where St. Thomas of Canterbury was murdered. Giles Blomfield's work represents the four assassins: two swords and two shadows.

The tombs are nearby. Here are two Archbishops of Canterbury, John Peckham (1230–1292) and William Warham (1450–1532). John Peckham's heart was buried separately, under the high altar in London's Franciscan church.

There is no tomb for St. Thomas Becket. We'll see why in a moment.

The painting on the walls dates from the 12th century.
The icon is from 1985.

St. Thomas of Canterbury.

The plaque honors members of the Buff Regiment who died in action during the Chitral and Punjab campaigns of 1893-95.

The tomb in front of it is that of John Bird Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1848 to 1862.

The Compass Rose as the symbol of the worldwide Anglican Communion was the idea of Canon Edward West of the New York Cathedral. Rather than North, it points to the east end of the Cathedral.

The Canterbury Compass Rose was designed by Giles Blomfield, and dedicated in 1988.

Ή άλήθεια έλευθρωσει ύμας.
"The truth will make you free."

The candle (to the right of the white sign) burns continuously in the Cathedral's Trinity Chapel, where the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury stood from 1220 until King Henry VIII ordered it destroyed in 1538. The disposition of St. Thomas' remains is unknown.


This is one very determined tree.

Hooker's Almshouses.

Bistro Viet Nam.

ASK is a pizza/pasta restaurant chain. The café next to it is "The Old Weavers House A.D. 1500." Maybe.

Near the tour boat on the Stour Canal is a medieval ducking stool.

St. Mildred's Church.
This Saxon church is much older than the cathedral, having been built in the early 11th century, before the Norman conquest. A fire did considerable damage in 1246. The newest part is from a 15th-century reconstruction.

Canterbury Castle

From a sign at the site,

The First Canterbury Castle

After the Battle of Hastings, Duke William of Normandy marched rapidly through Kent to Canterbury. In October 1066 Canterbury became the first English town to submit to the conqueror without a struggle.

To secure his position in the country, William ordered the building of the first Royal castles at Dover, Canterbury and Rochester. These early fortifications were simple wooden "motte-and-bailey" affairs.

Built against the line of the Roman town wall and probably incorporating a Romano-British burial mound of the second century, the first Canterbury castle comprised an earthen mound (motte) and courtyard (bailey) enclosed on three sides by a wide and deep ditch. A second bailey enclosure is thought to exist south of the mound and outside the city wall.

The Royal Castle

Construction of a new stone castle, beside Roman Worthgate, was probably begun only a decade or so after the conquest. Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, records the demolition of fourteen houses within the city wall and eleven houses just outside, to establish the new castle and ditch.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provides an early reference to the new castle in an account of an early sit-down strike. After the death of Abbot Scotland in September 1067, the Anglo-Saxon monks refused to accept the Norman nominee for abbot of St. Augustine's Abbey. In response, Lanfranc, the first Norman archbishop of Canterbury, imprisoned some of the monks in the new castle and expelled the rest for their disobedience. The disgraced monks appear to have picketed the castle, but as the day wore on they became increasingly despairing and by dinner time were so hungry that they submitted to the archbishop, whose nominee was eventually consecrated abbot in 1069.

The Stone Keep

Construction of the keep was started during the reign of William Rufus in the 1090s and finally completed by Henry II, probably by 1120. It was a stylish construction on three floors, standing to an original height of 80 feet and measuring 98 x 85 feet outside. The building had an elaborate plinth and massive 14-foot thick walls.

The original entrance to the keep was at first floor level on the northwest side, reached only by an external staircase. No other external doorways existed at ground level. At first floor level was the great hall, a principal chamber, two other rooms, and a kitchen. Above this was a second floor, now demolished, which presumably contained private rooms. At ground floor level was a basement. Although originally designed to be used for storage, this dark space, lit only by three narrow windows, became a prison.

The Castle Grounds

The keep was inside an outer bailey of about 4˝ acres enclosed by a wall and ditch. The curtain wall was provided with two gates, old Roman Worthgate on the South and a gate facing up Castle Street into the city to the North. Both gates had timber bridges across the ditch. Other buildings in the bailey yard include a castle chapel and a separate great hall.

Canterbury Prison

By the late twelfth century the importance of the Royal Castle at Canterbury had been overshadowed by Henry II's vast new fortification at Dover. From that time on Canterbury Castle served mainly as a prison for the County of Kent under the control of the Sheriff. In the thirteenth century a new large doorway and gatehouse were built on the southeast side of the keep, presumably to provide ground floor access to the prison.

Financial accounts for work at Canterbury Castle from the mid twelfth century show that expenditure was relatively modest, reflecting little more than essential repairs. Indeed, so little was spent on maintenance that by 1390 the castle was reported to be "in every part weak and ruinous."

Throughout the medieval period and until 1548 the citizens of Canterbury passed freely through the prison yard on their way to Wincheap. At this time, the Roman gate was blocked to restrict public access and new roads were built to bypass the castle. A new gate, Wincheap gate, was built to mirror an existing postern on the northwest side of the bailey near St. Mildred's churchyard. These two gates opened onto Wincheap Green and a city gallows, which is clearly shown on an early map of Canterbury dated about 1640.

Later History

By the early 17th century the castle and keep were again ruinous and in 1609 James I granted the castle to Sir Anthony Weldon. In 1730 a new County Sessions House was built, probably on the site of the old great hall. Partial demolition of the castle took place in 1770. In 1792 much of the outer bailey wall was demolished to improve the line of Castle Street and in 1817 parts of the upper walls of the keep were pulled down. In 1825 the newly formed Canterbury Gas Light and Coke Company acquired the keep and removed all internal walls to create a large coal and coke store. The truncated walls of the keep were later surmounted by a large iron water tank. In 1928 the keep was finally acquired by the City of Canterbury for preservation.

St. Augustine's Abbey, just outside the city walls, is the oldest Anglo-Saxon abbey in England. It was founded by St. Augustine and King Ćthelbert about 598. Following the Viking invasions, it is the only surviving monastery in Kent; the others were destroyed. But it did not survive the systematic destruction that followed the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538.


Dover Castle has already been mentioned as a Norman stronghold. There is no doubt that it dominates the landscape.

We were there to see Dover's famous white cliffs.

St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe is a couple of miles from Dover proper, and offers some beautiful trails for short hikes.

Pines Gardens.

The chalk is really black. The part we see is just a natural veneer.

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold, 1867


References | Outtakes