On Thursday, which happened to be Maundy Thursday, the Christian holy day commemorating the Last Supper, we drove to Canterbury, the seat of the Church of England.
The Church of England was established by Henry VIII in 1534 when the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry someone else (Anne Bolyn, I think); Henry simply did away with the Pope, took control of the church in England, and, in effect, annulled his own marriage. Today, the Church of England has a world-wide reach as the Anglican Communion.
In colonial America, the Church of England was known as the Anglican Church, but after the American Revolution, it became the Episcopalian Church because Anglicans had all sworn allegiance to the King of England. I was confirmed in the Episcopalian Church, though I am not a member, so it was a homecoming, of sorts, for me to visit the Mother Church in Canterbury.
In the old days, Canterbury was a walled, medieval city. Here’s the West Gate and the remains of the city wall.
Inside the old walled city, there’s another gate – the Christchurch Gate – into the cathedral grounds.
Canterbury was the site of a monastery that was established by the Roman Catholic Church in 597 AD. The site evolved into Canterbury Cathedral, built sometime in the 11th century, though parts of it were restored in the 14th century after a fire. Miraculously, it was spared during the bombing of Canterbury during WWII.
Before going inside, we walked around the grounds…
…past the city wall…
…and by the old cloisters…
Although the church is currently being renovated, with scaffolding around the eastern exterior, I found several places to photograph the spire.
Inside, we toured the room just beyond the Nave where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered by agents of King Henry II in 1170. Then we went into the crypt, back up into the Chapel, and into the Quire where I took this picture looking back into the Nave.
The stained glass in the Nave was impressive.
All of this stained glass work is at least 500 years old.
It was a cold day, in the 30s, so we were anxious to head back to Eastbourne before the sun set.