Daughter of an architect, I have learnt to really appreciate the inspirational creations of UK historians, particularly that of churches. Not being religious myself, doesn’t by any account make visiting a church or abbey any less mesmerising.
The outside of a building can be monumental – an icon to spot in the distance, and a jaw dropping sight when standing at its doors. But, the inside can be even more enchanting, with the usual collection of intricate mouldings, alfresco paintings, gold plated features and beautiful wood and stone dating back hundreds of years. They are often vibrant with colour and history, and all have their own, very different stories to tell.
(picture courtesy of www.machadoink.com)
A brief visit to Canterbury on NYE this year, centred around a visit to the infamous Canterbury cathedral. Created by St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and subsequently built for the Romans. With later Saxon ownership and a great fire, it was essentially rebuilt by the Normans in 1070. Then 100 years later, it became famous for the murder of Thomas Becket, the then Archbishop, within its very walls; said to be the act of King Henry II’s knights for Becket’s supposed betrayal to the court.
Following Henry the VIII’s dissolution Act in 1540, the place was no longer acting as a monastery and became a simple place of prayer which it still is to this day. Even with substantial damage caused by enemy fire in WW2 the cathedral still stands strong as an iconic landmark today in South East England.
You enter in through the 600 year old nave, immediately overwhelmed with the height of the arches and the flood of light through the stain glass windows surrounding you.
Walking up the centre to the Crossing was fascinating, when presented with such richly carved statues in a stone wall.
Through this arch and on into the Quire was enjoyable sight. It was clear that here was where regular services occur and where most of colour and vibrant ornaments were located. The windows here were larger, round and interspersed with various cabinets holding historical artifacts and snippets of English history.
The crypt and treasury down below was also fascinating, being the oldest existing part of the cathedral, yet containing more contemporary wall paintings.
It was such a great encounter, however brief and I would love to explore the rest of the city one day, ideally when the weather isn’t as bad as it was that day!
For more information visit: http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/