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.
Only when you enter, do you get some idea of the scale of the place.
Soaring pillars lead to the lierne vaulting of the ceiling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.