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Sep 12 2014

The Tales of Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous places of worship in England.  Some people just admire it without entering, but many pay the entrance fee to get a closer look.  I was one of those because it was my main reason for going to Canterbury.  The cathedral has a fascinating history, it forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is incredibly beautiful.  I chose this particular photograph for this week’s Foto Friday because it contrasts the physical beauty with a disturbing past.

The lit candle on the floor marks the spot of the shrine to Thomas Becket (Thomas à Becket).  He was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until he was brutally murdered, in the cathedral, in 1170.  Fifty years after his death, his remains were moved to Trinity Chapel in the cathedral.  This became a shrine to St Thomas of Canterbury and was visited by pilgrims.  In 1538, it was destroyed on the orders of King Henry VIII at the time when all the monasteries, priories, convents, and friaries in England, Wales, and Ireland were disbanded.

Canterbury Cathedral was originally founded in the 6th century by Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury.  It was rebuilt in the 11th century following a major fire, then parts of it were rebuilt over the centuries because of damage due to fire, an earthquake, structural concerns as well as being extended to accommodate the ever-increasing volume of pilgrims visiting the shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury.

I loved it for many reasons: I was astounded at the size of the cathedral; I marvelled at its design; I listened intently to one of the guides who eloquently retold the story of Thomas Becket’s murder at the spot where he was killed, and then reflected on my visit as I walked slowly around the attached cloister.

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I had heard the admission fee was a little pricey.  It is, but there was no way I was going to leave Canterbury without visiting the cathedral.  When I was there, admission to the cathedral cost £10.50 per adult.  If you are a UK taxpayer and agree to give through Gift Aid, your ticket is valid for a year.  It doesn’t cost you any more, but the cathedral will be able to claim back the tax on your entrance fee.  If you do that, it means you get unlimited entry to the cathedral for a year, providing you bring your receipt with you.


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Have you been to Canterbury Cathedral?  What was your experience like?

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  1. […] Canterbury Cathedral has long been a place of pilgrimage and is still the main draw for visitors.  I can understand why because of its history, and it is a magnificent structure.  I honestly don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo.  It’s one of those very photogenic buildings that looks great from every angle. […]

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