Canterbury Cathedral

I’m not free to go exploring at the moment, so I thought I’d return here to my trip to England in 2016. Having landed in London, I trained it from Cambridge to Bath, to Salisbury and across to Cornwall, back along the coast to lovely Chichester, ending up in Canterbury, before heading back to hit London’s West End.

I had put off describing my visit to Canterbury Cathedral because I really didn’t know how to go about it. Its size is not immediately apparent, because the east end is hidden at first.

Canterbury Cathedral with Bell Harry, the central tower.

Only when you enter, do you get some idea of the scale of the place.

The Nave

Soaring pillars lead to the lierne vaulting of the ceiling.

Looking from the altar towards the entry porch at the western end of the nave
Fan Vaulting beneath Bell Harry tower

I followed some steps down to the crypt and entered another world. It only needed some monks and a Gregorian chant to complete the picture. I wouldn’t have been absolutely surprised to see Derek Jacobi as super sleuth, Brother Cadfael, wafting past on the trail of another medieval murderer. The Norman crypt

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Undercroft is set aside for personal prayer.

Jesus Chapel

After leaving the crypt I climbed some steps to come upon the spectacular pulpitum, or ‘Screen of the Six Kings’, which separates the quire from the nave.

15th century pulpitum

The stone figures of the kings are thought to be Henry V, Richard II, Ethelbert, Edward the Confessor, Henry IV and Henry VI. Originally, there were also twelve saints but they were destroyed by Cromwell.

I passed this seat on the way through. I imagine you’d be very uncomfortable by the end of the service.


I adore stained glass windows. Here are just a few from this amazing place.



I wandered along the cloisters and eventually found myself outside.

It was a nice break, sitting in this little garden, while the gardener went about his business.

Green Court is overlooked on three sides by King’s School.

Ruins of the original abbey remain in the cathedral precincts. On the north side is a  little arcaded tower that supplied running water for the monks from a cistern above the arcade. Close by were the lavatories (or necessarium) which could cater for 56 clients at a time, back to back. Now, there’s a picture.

Ruins of the abbey infirmary

There is so much to Canterbury Cathedral, including the tomb of Henry IV and his queen, the space designed to hold the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, murdered here in 1170, and history going back to St. Augustine. And to Canterbury itself, going back to the Romans and before. A fantastic spot if you’re into English history.

Christ Church Gate, entrance to the cathedral from Butter Market



17 thoughts on “Canterbury Cathedral

  1. I love all history and this was a great post. I have been to many fabulous cathedrals, Notre Dame, York Minster, Sagrada Familia, Winchester Cathedral and others. All amazing. But I have not yet been to Canterbury so this was a treat. Thanks.


  2. I can’t go into one of those fantastic cathedrals without feeling both saddened and awestruck at the same time. Awesome how they managed to build those magnificent structures so long ago, and saddened by the power the church had to extort so much money from the people, some of them so poor they could barely afford to feed themselves, so as to enable them to build the churches.


    1. I know what you mean, Chris. The poor people were not considered in anything. I tell myself the building of them would have created a lot of employment. Don’t know whether that’s true or not. Still, I can’t not go in and not be amazed. Cheers.


  3. A great summary of the cathedral. I like that you focused on one place, with lots of photos and information. Sometimes blogs cover too much at once and the uniqueness of a spot can be lost.


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