19 August 2010
After driving for more than an hour and a half, we finally reached the town of Canterbury and parked our car at Wincheap park and ride. The bus brought us into the bus terminal located in the city centre and from there it’s just a short walk to the entrance. The city centre is a major shopping and tourist centre with lots of shops so there is no problem finding food.
The cathedral is massive and can be overwhelming at times so it is best to have some form of guide. You can either join a guided tour at £5 which I did or buy one of the guide books. Unless you are very familiar with the place, I highly recommend you spend some more money to join the tour, buy a guide book or do your research beforehand. If not, you are most likely to end up going away after half an hour with a feeling of wasting money on your admission fees. Even though the cathedral does have some awe inspiring visual elements, the best experience you can get out of a visit here is to couple the visual with the history and the knowledge of the events that had happened here. I see a lot of tourists wandering about but quickly losing interest since I must say Europe is full of cathedrals and they can start to look vey similar very quickly. If you want to gain the most and you have the whole day here, I would recommend that you explore the cathedral first in the morning with a guide book or your notes, then in the afternoon join a guided tour and you can ask the guide if you want to know more.
The majority of the cathedral is constructed in the Early English Gothic style however you can still see some areas in Romanesque style which indicates the areas that had survived the great fire in 1174. Gothic style is typically characterized by the pointed arches and the element of light. Such cathedrals usually have high ceilings with large stained glass windows to let in the maximum amount of sunlight. On the other hand, the earlier Romanesque style is identified by the rounded arches and the tall rounded pillars. A lot of cathedrals are built according to one of these styles, so just look for them when you next visit a church.
Our tour guide also let us in on the origin of the term “chapter house”. This is a building where you will find in a lot of churches where nowadays it just functions as a multipurpose room. Back then only monks are allowed in this room. The monks following the rule of Saint Benedict would gather daily in this building to read aloud a “chapter” from their rule book and hence the name of the place.
Globe Nomads review ratings: 4
We had a very informative day here in the cathedral where we learn more about the history of Christianity in UK and also gained some architectural knowledge on cathedrals.
(please refer to ratings explanation)
Admission: adult £8, child £7, concessions £7. One child can get in free per paying adult with voucher available on website. The ticket is also an annual ticket. There is a stack of annual ticket forms hanging beside the ticket booth. When buying your ticket, just hand a form over and the attendant will stamp it. Present your ticket together with the completed form the next time you visit.
No parking on site. I would suggest using Canterbury’s park and ride. The bus fare only costs £2.50 for up to 8 persons with parking included. There is no need to trouble yourself to navigate Canterbury’s narrow streets and try to find parking.
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Right outside the entrance
The entrance to Canterbury Cathedral
The nave and the tower.
Saint Thomas Becket was murdered at this spot. A total of 5 archbishops of Canterbury were martyred but only Thomas Becket died in the cathedral.
He was killed by 4 knights. This sculpture represents 4 swords. Can you spot them?
The Quire with the Nave at the end
The ceiling of the Bell Harry Tower. The fan shaped vaulting distributed the weight evenly and is considered an architectural achievement during the medieval times.
These are family badges found hanging from the ceiling in the Great Cloister.
The Great Cloister.
The cathedral has many stained glass windows and some are very old. This one depicting Adam is more than 800 years old.
These stained glass windows at one end of the chapter house display the important figures crucial to the history of the cathedral. In the middle row at the leftmost window is Thomas Becket with the green robes.
On the opposite wall there is another corresponding set of stained glass windows. The one of the left depicts the scene where Thomas Becket was murdered.
This illustrates one of the miracles performed by Saint Thomas Becket. Starting at the top left, a person had injured his leg. St. Thomas healed his leg in his sleep and the next day there is no blood on his leg. All healthy, he goes off to work with his axe.
This is a rather peculiar stained glass window where the illustration is cartoonish. This piece entitled “Peace”, is done by Hungarian artist Ervin Bossanyi, 1956.