Butchery Lane and the Cathedral
|Postcode:||CT1 - 4|
The heart and focus of the city is Canterbury Cathedral. Castle Street runs from the site of the Castle straight towards the west end of the Cathedral, met by the High Street crossing it perpendicularly, Merceries Lane continuing to the Cathedral precincts; these roads forming a cruciform city centre, thronged by people; visitors, pilgrims and local folk alike.
Canterbury is very old: it stood before the Romans came in the 1st century AD, and since then it has been a Roman town, then the capital of the Kingdom of Kent, a major mediæval town and now a modest provincial city of eastern Kent.
After Kent accepted Christianity in 597, St Augustine founded an episcopal see in the city and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, ensuring that Canterbury would be the most senior episcopate of the Church of England and in due time a symbol of unity for the worldwide Anglican Communion. In 1170, Thomas Becket, then Archbishop, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral and this led to the cathedral's becoming a popular place of pilgrimage; one which provided the theme for Geoffery Chaucer's 14th-century literary classic The Canterbury Tales. The literary heritage continued with the birth of the playwright Christopher Marlowe in the city in the 16th century.
Many historical structures remain in the city, including a city wall founded in Roman times and rebuilt in the 14th century, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and a Norman castle, and perhaps the oldest school in England, The King's School. Modern additions include the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, the Marlowe Theatre, and the St Lawrence Ground, home to Kent County Cricket Club.
- 1 Name of the city
- 2 Geography
- 3 History
- 4 Economy
- 5 Canterbury Cathedral
- 6 Other churches
- 7 Sights of the city
- 8 Culture
- 9 Music
- 10 Local media
- 11 References
- 12 Books
- 13 Books
- 14 Outside links
Name of the city
The Romans named the town Durovernum Cantiacorum, from an old British original name. In the fifth century when the town became the chief town of the Jutish kingdom of Kent, and had two alternative names; Dorwitceaster and Cantwaraburg, the latter meaning "Stronghold of the Men of Kent". The modern name, Canterbury, is from Cantwaraburg.
The Archbishop of Catnerbury signs documents as "Cantuar", a Latin abbreviation derived from the Old English name.
The Welsh name for the city, Caergaint, means “Kent's fortress” and is found as early as the writings of Nennius (as Cair Ceint), which might suggest that it was the ancient British name for the town.
The city stands on the River Stour or Great Stour, which rises at Lenham to the north-east and falls into the English Channel at Sandwich. The river divides to the south east of the city, one branch flowing though the city, the other passing around the position of the former walls. The two branches rejoin and divide or are linked several times, but finally recombine around the town of Fordwich, on the edge of the marshland north-east of the city. The Stour is navigable on the tidal section to Fordwich, although above this point canoes and other small craft can be used. Punts and rowed river boats are available for hire in Canterbury.  The geology of the area consists mainly of brickearth overlying chalk. Tertiary sands overlain by London clay form St Thomas's Hill and St Stephen's Hill about a mile north-west of the city centre.
The Canterbury area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Lower Paleolithic axes, and Neolithic and Bronze Age pots have been found in the area. Canterbury was first recorded as the main settlement of the Cantiaci tribe, which inhabited most of modern-day Kent. In the 1st century AD, the Romans captured the settlement, and named it Durovernum Cantiacorum ("Durovernum of the Cantiaci"). Over the period of occupation they rebuilt the city with new streets in a grid pattern, a theatre, a temple, a forum and public baths. In the late 3rd century, to defend against attack from barbarians, the Romans built around the city an earth bank and a wall with seven gates, which enclosed an area of |130 acres.
After the Romans retreated from Britain in AD 410, Durovernum Cantiacorum was abandoned, apart from a few farmers, and gradually decayed. Over the next 100 years, Kent was occupied by ancestral English and formed into a Jutish kingdom, of which Canterbury became the capital. an English-Jutish community formed within the city walls, and whether they drove the native Britons out by the sword or co-existed with them until a single community emerged is much debated. Under the Jutes the city was named Cantwaraburg, meaning "Kent people's stronghold" or Dorwitceaster.
In AD 597, Gregory, the Bishop of Rome ("Gregory the Great") sent Augustine to Britain convert the English to Christianity. King Æthelberht of Kent accepted Christ and his capital, Canterbury, was chosen by Augustine as his episcopal see. It is said that Augustine intended the chief episcopal see to be in the ancient Roman seat, London, but the King of Essex remained pagan and so Augustine settled in Kent. An abbey and cathedral were built. Augustine thus became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. The town's new importance led to its revival, and trades developed in pottery, textiles and leather. By 630, gold coins were being struck at the Canterbury mint. In 672, the Synod of Hertford gave the see of Canterbury authority over the entire English Church.
In 842 and 851, Canterbury suffered great loss of life during Danish raids. In 978, Archbishop Dunstan refounded the abbey built by Augustine, and named it St Augustine's Abbey. A second wave of Danish attacks began in 991, and in 1011 the cathedral was burnt and Archbishop Alphege was killed. Remembering the destruction caused by the Danes, the inhabitants of Canterbury did not resist William the Conqueror's invasion in 1066. William immediately ordered a wooden motte-and-bailey castle to be built by the Roman city wall. In the early 12th century, the castle was rebuilt with stone.
After the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket at the cathedral in 1170, Canterbury became one of the most notable towns in Europe, as pilgrims from all parts of Christendom came to visit his shrine. This pilgrimage provided the framework for Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century collection of stories, The Canterbury Tales.
Canterbury is associated with several saints from this period who lived in Canterbury:
- Augustine of Canterbury
- Adrian of Canterbury
- Æthelberht of Kent
- Anselm of Canterbury
- Theodore of Tarsus
- Thomas Becket
Later Middle Ages
The Black Death hit Canterbury in 1348. At 10,000, Canterbury had the 10th largest population in England; by the early 16th century, the population had fallen to 3,000. In 1363, during the Hundred Years' War, a Commission of Inquiry found that disrepair, stone-robbing and ditch-filling had led to the Roman wall becoming eroded. Between 1378 and 1402, the wall was virtually rebuilt, and new wall towers were added.
In 1381, during the Peasants' Revolt, the castle and Archbishop's Palace were sacked, and Archbishop Simon Sudbury was beheaded in London. Sudbury is still remembered annually by the Christmas mayoral procession to his tomb at Canterbury Cathedral. In 1413, Henry IV became the only king to be buried at the cathedral.
In 1448 Canterbury was granted a City Charter, which gave it a mayor and a high sheriff; the city still has a Lord Mayor and Sheriff. In 1504 the cathedral's main tower, the Bell Harry Tower, was completed, ending 400 years of building.
Early moderm period
During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the city's priory, nunnery and three friaries were closed. St Augustine's Abbey, the 14th richest in England at the time, was surrendered to the Crown, and its church and cloister were levelled. The rest of the abbey was dismantled over the next 15 years, although part of the site was converted to a palace. Thomas Becket's shrine in the Cathedral was demolished; all the gold, silver and jewels were removed to the Tower of London, and Becket's images, name and feasts were obliterated throughout the kingdom, ending the pilgrimages.
Christopher Marlowe, one of the finest poets and playwrights of the Elizabethan Age, was born in Canterbury in February 1564 (just two months before William Shakespeare). During his short life as a scholar, courtier, “intelligencer” and poet, he wrote seven famous plays and several published poems. He died on 30 May 1593 at the other end of Kent, in a Depford tavern brawl.
By the 17th century, Canterbury's population was 5,000; of whom 2,000 were French-speaking Protestant Huguenots, who had begun fleeing persecution and war in France and the Spanish Netherlands in the mid-16th century. The Huguenots introduced silk weaving into the city, which by 1676 had outstripped wool weaving.
In 1620 Robert Cushman negotiated the lease of the Mayflower at 59 Palace Street for the purpose of transporting the Pilgrims to America.
In 1647, during the English Civil War, riots broke out when Canterbury's puritan mayor banned church services on Christmas Day. The rioters' trial the following year led to a Kentish revolt against the Parliamentarian forces, contributing to the start of the second phase of the war. However, Canterbury surrendered peacefully to the Parliamentarians after their victory at the Battle of Maidstone.
By 1770 the castle had come into disrepair, and many parts of it were demolished during the late 18th century and early 19th century. In 1787 all the gates in the city wall, except for Westgate, Canterbury| Westgate — the city jail — were demolished as a result of a commission that found them impeding to new coach travel. By 1820 the city's silk industry had been killed by imported Indian muslins. The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, one of the world's earliest locomotive-drawn passenger railways, was opened in 1830. Between 1830 and 1900, the city's population grew from 15,000 to 24,000. Canterbury Prison was opened in 1808 just outside the city limits.
During the First World War, a number of barracks and voluntary hospitals were set up around the city, and in 1917 a German bomber crash-landed near Broad Oak Road.
During the Second World War, 10,445 bombs fell during 135 separate raids and destroyed 731 homes and 296 other buildings in the city, including the Simon Langton Grammar Schools. 115 people were killed. The most devastating raid was on 1 June 1942 during the Baedecker Blitz. Of St George's Church, all that survived the Blitz was the tower.
Before the end of the war, architect Charles Holden drew up plans to redevelop the city centre, but locals were so opposed that the Citizens' Defence Association was formed and swept to power in the 1945 municipal elections. Post-war rebuilding of the city centre eventually began 10 years after the war. A ring-road was constructed outside the city walls some time after in stages to alleviate growing traffic problems in the city centre, which was later pedestrianised.
The biggest expansion to the city occurred in the 1960s, with the arrival of the University of Kent | University of Kent at Canterbury and Christ Church College.
Between 1999 and 2005, the Whitefriars shopping centre underwent major redevelopment. In 2000, during the redevelopment, a major archaeological project was undertaken by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, known as the Big Dig, which was supported by Channel Four's Time Team.
Canterbury district retains approximately 4,761 businesses, up to 60,000 full- and part-time employees and was worth £1.3 billion in 2001. This makes the district the second largest economy in Kent.
Tourism contributes £258 million to the Canterbury economy and has been a "cornerstone of the local economy" for a number of years; Canterbury Cathedral alone generates over one million visitors a year.
The city's economy benefits also from significant economic projects such as the Canterbury Enterprise Hub, Lakesview International Business Park and the Whitefriars retail development.
Canterbury Cathedral, formally the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury, is the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was founded in AD 597 by Augustine, the missionary bishop sent to convert the English from their paganism. Today's cathedral was begun on the same site in 1077 under King William I by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury. It took 400 years to complete.
With one million visitors each year, the Cathedral is one of the most visited places in the country.
The cathedral's first archbishop was Augustine of Canterbury, previously abbot of St Andrew's Benedictine Abbey in Rome. He was sent by Gregory the Great in 597 as a missionary to the English. Augustine founded the cathedral in 602 and dedicated it to St Saviour. Archaeological investigations under the nave floor in 1993 revealed the foundations of the original Saxon cathedral, which had been built across a former Roman road.
Augustine also founded the Abbey of St Peter and Paul outside the city walls, which was later rededicated to St Augustine himself and was for many centuries the burial place of the successive archbishops.
Later Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods
A second building, a baptistry or mausoleum, was built on exactly the same axis as the cathedral by Archbishop Cuthbert (740-758) and dedicated to St John the Baptist. Two centuries later, Oda the Severe (941-958) renewed the building, greatly lengthening the nave. Under Dunstan (c909-988), a Benedictine abbey named Christ Church Priory was added to the cathedral. But the formal establishment as a monastery seems to date to c.997 and the community only became fully monastic from Lanfranc's time onwards (with monastic constitutions addressed by him to prior Henry). Dunstan was buried on the south side of the High Altar.
The cathedral was badly damaged during Danish raids on Canterbury in 1011. The Archbishop, St Alphege, was held hostage by the raiders and eventually martyred at Greenwich on 19 April 1012, the first of Canterbury's five martyred archbishops. Lyfing (1013–1020) and Æthelnoth (1020–1038) added a western apse as an oratory of St Mary.
The new, Norman cathedral
After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Lanfranc (1070–1077) became the first Norman archbishop. He thoroughly rebuilt the ruined cathedral in a Norman design based heavily on the Abbey of St Etienne in Caen, of which he had previously been abbot. The new cathedral was dedicated in 1077. Anselm (1093–1109) greatly extended the quire to the east to give sufficient space for the monks of the revived monastery. Beneath it he built the large and elaborately decorated crypt, which is the largest of its kind in England.
The Chair of St Augustine may date from the Norman period and its first recorded use is in 1205.
The cathedral was seriously damaged by the severe earthquake of 1382, losing its bells and campanile. Prior Thomas Chillenden (1390–1410) rebuilt the nave in the Perpendicular style of English Gothic, but left the Norman and Early English east end in place.
On Tuesday 29 December 1170, the Archbishop, Thomas Becket, was murdered in the north-east transept by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket 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. Becket was the second of four Archbishops of Canterbury to be murdered.
Becket was proclaimed a saint and a shrine was built, which was believed to be a place of healing. Canterbury thus became an important centre of pilgrimage. The oddly assorted pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" were travelling to Thomas's shrine in Canterbury. The income from pilgrims visiting Becket's shrine largely paid for the subsequent rebuilding of the Cathedral and its associated buildings, revenue raised from selling pilgrim badges depicting Becket, his martyrdom, or his shrine. The shrine was closed and broken up at the Reformation.
The modern period
In March 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the cathedral ceased to be an abbey and reverted to its previous status of 'a college of secular canons'. The New Foundation came into being on 8 April 1541.
The original Norman north-west tower was demolished in the late 18th century due to structural concerns. It was replaced during the 1830s with a Perpendicular style twin of the southwest tower, currently known as the 'Arundel Tower'. This was the last major structural alteration to the cathedral to be made. The Romanesque monastic dormitory ruins were replaced with a Neo-Gothic Library and Archives building in the 19th century, later destroyed in the Blitz by a high-explosive bomb; aimed at the cathedral itself.
The Foundation is the authorised staffing establishment of the cathedral, few of whom are clergy. The head of the cathedral is the dean who is assisted by a chapter of 24 canons. With a number of lay canons also, these form the greater chapter which has the legal responsibility both for the cathedral itself and also for the formal election of an archbishop when there is a vacancy-in-see. By law and custom they may only elect the person who has been nominated by the Queen.
The Foundation also includes the choristers, lay clerks, organists, King's Scholars, the Six Preachers and a range of other officers; some of these posts are moribund, such as that of the cathedral barber. The cathedral has a full-time work force of 300 making it one of the largest employers in the city. In addition also has approximately 800 volunteers.
In keeping with its position as the centre of the Church of England, Canterbury has a profusion of churches and of many denominations. Several are of great historical interest.
St Martin's Church is the oldest church in Britain still in use as a church. It is believed that it was built in the sixth century, even before Augustine landed. It was originally the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent, Æthelberht's Christian Frankish Queen. When she landed in Kent she brought her Chaplain, Bishop Liudhard, and the King allowed her to continue to practise her religion in an existing church which the Venerable Bede says had been in use in the late Roman period but had fallen into disuse. There is a strong possibility that this church is St Martin's, especially since Bede names it.
Shortly before 1844, a hoard of gold coins was found in the churchyard, one of which is the Liudhard medalet, which bears an image of a diademed figure with a legend referring to Liudhard
Sights of the city
World Heritage Site
The World Heritage Site in Canterbury consists of:
- Canterbury Cathedral
- St Martin's Church
- St Augustine's Abbey ruins
Ruins and museums
The Roman Museum houses an in situ mosaic pavement dating from around AD 300.
Surviving structures from the Roman times include Queningate, a blocked gate in the city wall, and the Dane John Mound, once part of a Roman cemetery. The Dane John Gardens were built beside the mound in the 18th century, and a memorial was placed on the mound's summit. A windmill was on the mound between 1731 and 1839.
The ruins of the Norman Canterbury Castle and St Augustine's Abbey are both open to the public.
The mediæval St Margaret's Church now houses the "The Canterbury Tales", in which life-sized character models reconstruct Geoffrey Chaucer's stories.
The Westgate is now a museum relating to its history as a jail.
St Alphege's Church, a mediæval church, became redundant in 1982 but had a new lease of life as the Canterbury Urban Studies Centre, later renamed the Canterbury Environment Centre; the building is used by the King's School.
The Old Synagogue at Canterbury, now the King's School Music Room, is one of only two Egyptian Revival synagogues still standing.
The city centre contains many timber-framed 16th- and 17th -century houses, including the Old Weaver's House used by the Huguenots.
St Martin's Mill is the only surviving mill out of the six known to have stood in Canterbury. It was built in 1817 and worked until 1890; it is now a house conversion.
The Museum of Canterbury, houses many exhibits, with one of them being the Rupert Bear Museum. The Herne Bay Times has reported that the Heritage at Risk Register includes 19 listed buildings in Canterbury which need urgent repair but for which the council has insufficient funds.
The city's theatre and concert hall is the Marlowe Theatre named after Christopher Marlowe, who was born in the city in February 1564 and baptised in the city's St George's Church (which was destroyed during the Second World War). The old Marlowe Theatre was located in St Margaret's Street and housed a repertory theatre. The Gulbenkian Theatre, at the University grounds, also serves the city, housing also a cinema and café. The Marlowe is currently being rebuilt on its former site.
Apart from the two theatres, theatrical performances take place at several areas of the city, for instance the Cathedral and St Augustine's Abbey. The premiere of Murder in the Cathedral by T S Eliot took place at Canterbury Cathedral.
The oldest surviving Tudor theatre in Canterbury is now Casey's Bar, formerly known as The Shakespeare Pub. There are several theatre groups based in Canterbury, including the University of Kent Students' Union's T24 Drama Society, The Canterbury Players and Kent Youth Theatre.
The Marlowe Theatre
The redeveloped Marlowe Theatre has become the largest theatre in the region, offering touring productions and concerts. The programme includes musicals, drama, ballet, contemporary dance, classical orchestras, opera, children's shows, pantomime, stand-up comedy and concerts. There will also be a second performance space called The Marlowe Studio, dedicated to creative activity and the programming of new work. The theatre has three bars with views of the city, a restaurant and a riverside terrace; its re-opening to audiences is in October 2011.
Polyphonic music written for the monks of Christ Church Priory (the Cathedral) survives from the 13th century. The Cathedral may have had an organ as early as the 12th century, though the names of organists are only recorded from the early 15th century. One of the earliest named composers associated with Canterbury Cathedral was Leonel Power, who was appointed master of the new Lady Chapel choir formed in 1438.
The Reformation ended monastic music. The Cathedral's musical endeavours were founded anew under Dean Thomas Neville in the early 17th century. Neville introduced instrumentalists into the Cathedral's music who played cornett and sackbut, probably members of the city's band of waits. The Cathedral acquired sets of recorders, lutes and viols for the use of the choir boys and lay-clerks.
The Canterbury Choral Society gives regular concerts in Canterbury Cathedral, specialising in the large-scale choral works of the classical repertory. The Canterbury Orchestra, founded in 1953, is a thriving group of enthusiastic players who regularly tackle major works from the symphonic repertoire.
Music in the City
As was common in English cities in the Middle Ages, Canterbury employed a town band known as the Waits. There are records of payments to the Waits starting from 1402, though they probably existed earlier than this. The Waits were disbanded by the city authorities in 1641 for 'misdemeanors' but were reinstated in 1660 when they played for the visit of King Charles II on his return from exile. Waits were eventually abolished nationally by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835@. A modern early music group called The Canterbury Waits has revived the name.
The Canterbury Catch Club was a musical and social club which met in the city between 1779 and 1865. The club (male only) met weekly in the winter. It employed an orchestra to assist in performances in the first half of the evening. After the interval, the members sang catches and glees from the club's extensive music library (now deposited at the Cathedral Archives in Canterbury).
The city gave its name to a musical genre known as the Canterbury Sound or Canterbury Scene, a group of progressive rock, avant-garde and jazz musicians established within the city during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Over the years, with band membership changes and new bands evolving, the term has been used to describe a musical style or subgenre, rather than a regional group of musicians.
Musical groups today in the city include the Canterbury Singers (also founded in 1953), Cantemus, and the City of Canterbury Chamber Choir. The University of Kent has a Symphony Orchestra, a University Choir, a Chamber Choir, and a University Concert Band and Big Band.
The Canterbury Festival takes place over a fortnight in October each year in Canterbury and the surrounding towns. It includes a wide range of musical events ranging from opera and symphony concerts to world music, jazz, folk, etc., with a Festival Club, a Fringe, and Umbrella events. Canterbury also hosts the annual Lounge On The Farm festival in July, which mainly sees performances from rock, indie and dance artists.
Canterbury's first newspaper was the Kentish Post, founded in 1717. It changed its name to the Kentish Gazette in 1768 and is still being published, claiming to be the country's second oldest surviving newspaper. It is currently produced as a paid-for newspaper produced by the KM Group, based in nearby Whitstable. This newspaper covers the East Kent area and has a circulation of about 25,000.
Three free weekly newspapers provide news on the Canterbury district: yourcanterbury, the Canterbury Times and Canterbury Extra.
Canterbury is served by two local radio stations, KMFM Canterbury and CSR 97.4FM.
KMFM Canterbury broadcasts on 106FM. It was formerly known as KMFM106, and before the KM Group took control it was known as CTFM, based on the local postcode being CT. Previously based in the city, the station's studios and presenters were moved to Ashford in 2008.
CSR 97.4FM, an acronym for "Community Student Radio", broadcasts on 97.4FM from studios at both the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. The station is run by a collaboration of education establishments in the city including the two universities. The transmitter is based at the University of Kent, offering a good coverage of the city. CSR replaced two existing radio stations: C4 Radio, which served Canterbury Christ Church University, and UKC Radio, which served the University of Kent.
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| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Canterbury Cathedral website
- Virtual Tour of Canterbury Cathedral
- The Canterbury Gift
- Sacred Destinations: Canterbury Cathedral
- Details on bell towers
- History of choir school and choristers
- Canterbury Cathedral on Adrian Fletcher’s Paradoxplace
- Flickr images tagged Canterbury Cathedral
- BBC news item re. Caen stone sourced for cathedral repairs
- Photos and plans of Canterbury Cathedral
- Mediæval Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral
- Canterbury Buildings website - Archaeological and heritage site of Canterbury's buildings.
- Canterbury Archaeological Trust - Whitefriars excavations
- TimeTeam: Canterbury Big Dig
- Virtual tour
- UNESCO World Heritage Centre - World Heritage profile for Canterbury.
- Canterbury City Council
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