We reluctantly departed Leeds Castle and continued on to Canterbury, to visit the Village, the Cathedral and to have lunch. On the way our Irish tour guide gave us a rundown on the history of religion in the United Kingdom, from the early Roman times until present day. He put the English cathedrals and religious history in perspective for us and made the visit to Canterbury come alive.
When we arrived at Canterbury we went straight to the Cathedral. It is the most imposing thing in town, so you can't miss it. You approach the Cathedral through the old village of Canterbury.
Inside the Cathedral, Ron had to register as an official photographer and pay for a license before he could take pictures. We won't do that again, it is too dark inside for good pictures and the guidebook is about the same price as a license. Besides the pictures are better than we could take anyway. The splendor in these places defies description and of course there is stained glass everywhere you look.
The Cathedral Church of Christ at Canterbury, has been a place of worship since 597 AD and remains a place of worship today. The Cathedral was sacked by the Danes and destroyed again by fire. The sanctuary at the eastern end of the Cathedral was restored in 1077 as it remains today.
Much of the Cathedral has been burned and destroyed over and over again, but remains as a reminder of the strength of Christian worship and the need for a place to worship.
Today the Cathedral seems to be the central place of worship in Canterbury, with regular services scheduled every week. With all the tourists this seems a little strange, probably a lot stranger to the people who worship there now. However, we could only imagine what it would be like to worship regularly in a sanctuary that was built when the Romans occupied England and remains to this day. Our history is so very short in comparison.
As you tour this place you are taken back through history and allowed to relive the lives of some of the people who worshipped here in the past. And like many of the Cathedrals we visited, Canterbury is the burial place of Kings, Queens, Bishops and Knights from England's colorful and frequently violent past. We even saw the tomb of Edward the Black Prince in Canterbury.
The area around Canterbury seemed to be fairly modern, with shopping centers, McDonalds and the kind of homes you find around the newer areas in England. Fortunately the the old village of Canterbury around the Cathedral has been preserved and sets the atmosphere for your visit to the Cathedral itself.
The village is what we have always considered to be English Tudor architecture. The streets are lined with cute little shops and many small street side restaurants. There appeared to be shops on the ground floor and apartments (flats) upstairs. This type of design is all over London as well. It appears to be a very efficient use of available space and makes for a beautiful place to visit. No doubt the residents like it this way also, very convenient for getting to work.
We had our lunch in an English pub in the old part of the village, a very pleasant experience indeed! Then it was time to go back to the bus, over by the McDonalds and move on to Dover to see the white cliffs.