Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Canterbury Cathedral (Canterbury)

[An image showing Canterbury Cathedral]Christ Church, better known as Canterbury Cathedral, is the major Christian building in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the top man in the Church of England.

In 597, when St. Augustine arrived in Kent at the start of his mission to evangelise the English, he was given a ruined Romano-British church by King Ethelbert.

This church was rebuilt, becoming England's earliest cathedral. After a couple of disastrous fires, the present building was begun in 1070, shortly after the Norman Conquest.

Only small portions of this church remain, however, because there was yet another fire in 1174.

The rebuilding this time was undertaken by William of Sens, but he was crippled by falling fifty feet from the scaffolding, and his place was taken by William the Englishman.

The original stone for this rebuilding came from Caen in France, but after a while suitable stone was discovered on the Isle of Purbeck.

In the 14th century, the great architect Henry Yevele built a new nave.

Canterbury Cathedral became a major place of pilgrimage in 1170, when Archbishop Thomas a Becket was outrageously murdered in the cathedral.

Two other Archbishops of Canterbury died violently. St. Alphege was stoned to death by drunken Vikings in the early 11th century, and Simon of Sudbury was beheaded in the 14th century during the Peasants' Revolt.

The crypt, created by Prior Ernulph from 1096 to1114, is at 290 feet the longest in England.

The Bell Harry Tower, the largest of three, rises to 235 feet in height, and dates from the mid 15th century.

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