Another page of my last summer’s diary… and whilst you are looking through some of the following photographs of Canterbury Cathedral’s amazing interior, here are a few snippets from The Cathedral and Wikipedia websites.
Canterbury Cathedral’s Norman History:
The cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1067, a year after the Norman Conquest.
Rebuilding began in 1070 under the first Norman archbishop, Lanfranc (1070–77) who cleared the ruins and reconstructed the cathedral to a design based closely on that of the Abbey of St. Etienne in Caen, where he had previously been abbot, using stone brought from France.
The new church, its central axis about 5m south of that of its predecessor, was a cruciform building, with an aisled nave of nine bays, a pair of towers at the west end, aiseless transepts with apsidal chapels, a low crossing tower, and a short choir ending in three apses. It was dedicated in 1077.
After this time, the responsibility for the rebuilding or improvement of the cathedral’s fabric was largely left in the hands of the priors. Following the election of Prior Ernulf in 1096, Lanfranc’s inadequate east end was demolished, and replaced with an eastern arm 198 feet long, doubling the length of the cathedral.
It was raised above a large and elaborately decorated crypt. Ernulf was succeeded in 1107 by Conrad, who completed the work by 1126. The new choir took the form of a complete church in itself, with its own transepts; the east end was semicircular in plan, with three chapels opening off an ambulatory. A free standing campanile was built on a mound in the cathedral precinct in about 1160.
Though named after the sixth century founding archbishop, The Choir of St. Augustine may date from the Norman period. Its first recorded use is in 1205.
Martyrdom of Thomas Becket
A pivotal moment in the history of the Cathedral was the murder of Thomas Becket (also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and later Thomas à Becket; c. 1118 (or 1120) – 29 December 1170). Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170.
He was killed in the north-west transept (also known as the Martyrdom) on Tuesday 29 December 1170 by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket over the rights and privileges of the Church and is said to have exclaimed in frustration, “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”
The knights took it literally and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. Soon after his death, Becket was canonised by Pope Alexander III.The posthumous veneration of Becket made the Cathedral a place of pilgrimage. This brought both the need to expand the Cathedral, and the wealth that made it possible.
I only realised that we weren’t meant to take photos in the vaults after I’d already taken one… (which is why there is only this single photo and no more)
Commemorating Thomas Becket…
I think the candle that is the shrine to him was supposed to have been lit…
In my personal opinion, Velvetine got the two best shots of this series of photographs… detail in the foreground and the interesting ceiling behind draws your eye ever deeper inwards…