April 24, 2017
We landed at Heathrow on Monday morning. Then we stood in line for two and a half hours at immigration. I decided this would be my last time to fly into Heathrow. There were somewhat shorter lines for people with EU passports. After Brexit, those folks could be thrown into the already ridiculous line we were in. Eventually we got through and found our tour guide Conor and waited for our bus driver to find us. This would turn out to be the worst part of the trip, which was then behind us. The bus took us to Canterbury, where we checked into our hotel and had a quick lunch in their bar. The hotel looked quaint enough.
Our sightseeing began with a walk through the old streets to the cathedral, seat of the primate of the Church of England and worldwide Anglicanism, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The building is undergoing major repairs. The cathedral was founded in 597, but the present structure dates only back to 1070, and was much redone in Gothic style after a fire in 1174. Much has been added, repaired, and changed over the centuries because of fires, earthquakes, bombs, and needs to accommodate pilgrims/tourists. After our tour we attended the Evensong, the first of three we would experience on the trip.
The view up into the tower:
The windows include some of the earliest and best preserved stained glass among European cathedrals. The earliest one dates to the late twelfth century. Windows were stored in the crypt during World War II. Some modern windows are pictured later down this page.
The cathedra (chair of the archbishop):
Americans tend to know about Canterbury because of the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket in 1170. We know the play or movie Becket and maybe the play Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot. In school we were exposed to the Canterbury Tales, which recounts stories told by pilgrims on their way to Becket's shrine. The site of the killing is marked with a modern sculpture.
The crypt is in the earlier Romanesque style with round arches.
The cloisters provided a place with plenty of light for the monks to copy their manuscripts. Paige Baker, wife of Fr. David Buck, took even more pictures than I did. You can see some of her fine work linked from my index page for this trip. The door into the Chapter House is just to the right of the picture.
The Chapter House ceiling: