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Sep 05 2014

The Oldest Church in England

After my trip around Scotland, I spent a few days in Canterbury.  One of the many sights I saw was St Martin’s Church, which is the oldest parish church in continuous use, not only in England but in the English-speaking world.  For that reason alone, it had to feature in this week’s Foto Friday
The oldest church in England

It started off as a private chapel for Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century when the existing Roman building was renovated for her to use.  A few years later, Augustine, a Benedictine monk, sent by Pope Gregory, arrived on a Christian mission with 40 monks.  He extended the church, but it was still too small, so Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey were built once King Æthelberht gave him permission to use more land.  After that, St Martin’s was used to a lesser extent, although it has continued to be used as a place of worship ever since.  Queen Bertha was originally from Tours in France, so the church is named after St Martin of Tours, a 4th century bishop. 

Alongside Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey, St Martin’s Church is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The church is located a short walk from the city centre.

Center map
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The church is only open to visitors on certain days, at certain times.  If you’d like to see inside this interesting church, you’d better check the opening times here to ensure you aren’t disappointed.  I didn’t have the opportunity to go inside because I wasn’t there when it was open.

Have your say

Did you get to see inside St Martin’s Church?  If so, what was it like?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

2 pings

  1. The Tales of Canterbury Cathedral - Independent Travel Help

    […] 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 […]

  2. Canterbury: Things to See and Do - Independent Travel Help

    […] St Martin’s Church has a long history, and is thought to be the oldest parish church In continuous use in the English-speaking world.  It started off as Queen Bertha’s private chapel.  When it got too small, Augustine was eventually given the go-ahead to build something bigger. […]

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