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01/04/14 Historic Canterbury and Sandwich
Over the first weekend of January, Suzanna and Richard travelled to the historic towns of Canterbury and Sandwich.
St Martin’s Church
When St Augustine arrived in 597 AD with a group of 40 monks, St Martin's church was already an existing Romano-British church where Bertha, King Ethelbert's Frankish wife already worshipped. St Martin’s church now has been the home of an unbroken Christian community for well over 1400 years.
The Quire area of the church is the original building. You can still see the bricks in the wall from the time of the Romans in England.
Like many of the old cathedrals, there is a Squint window in the back wall for the Lepers to watch the Communion service.
St Augustine’s Abbey
The abbey was actually founded by St. Augustine in 598 AD to house the monks he brought with him to convert the Britons to Christianity. Shortly after Augustine's arrival in 597 King Ethelbert of Kent granted him a parcel of land stretching to about 30 acres outside the walls of the city, near the course of the main road to the coast. The abbey was used as a burial place for kings of Kent and the first archbishops of Canterbury. There was a school attached to the abbey, which may have been established by Augustine himself and by the late 7th century the school had attained a reputation as a place of learning. It had a library, which included books brought by Augustine, and more sent by Pope Gregory. Most of the abbey was destroyed after the time of Henry VIII. It was a day of cold wind and rain when we visited.
Throughout the medieval period St Augustine's Abbey built up estates throughout Kent. At the fullest extent of its power the abbey held over 12,000 acres of land. But that power did not last, and like all other monastic houses in the land, St Augustine's suffered at the hands of Henry VIII. On 30 July 1538 the last abbot and monks left the abbey, signaling the end of over 940 years of monastic presence. After the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII part of the abbey buildings were converted into a royal residence, used as a stopover place on journeys between London and the south coast. The abbey site was leased out to a succession of noble families. Over the years most of the abbey fell into disrepair and mainly just ruins remain. As we looked over the site of the abbey, we could see Canterbury Cathedral in the distance.
Here is north wall of the Nave section of a cathedral built at the abbey after the Norman invasion of 1066.
This marks the spot of St Augustine’s grave from 605 AD.
The entrance to the courtyard of Canterbury Cathedral is near the town center along a busy street.
Here is a partial view of Canterbury Cathedral from the entrance gate.
Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. The Norman nave and transepts survived until the late fourteenth century, when they were demolished to make way for the present structures.
In front of the cathedral was a life-size Nativity scene.
The Nave (front half of the cathedral) is where the common people came to worship. At the end of the Nave is a large stone wall with a gateway to the back half of the cathedral where the monks worshipped.
The Quire (back half of the cathedral) is where the monks met to worship.
A pivotal moment in the history of the Cathedral was the murder of the archbishop, Thomas Becket, in the north-west transept (also known as the Martyrdom) on Tuesday 29 December 1170 by knights of King Henry II. The shrine to Thomas Beckett was removed in 1538 by Henry VIII.
City of Canterbury
A large section of the old city defensive walls still surrounds the town center. The original walls were built around 270 AD. In 1363 the walls were rebuilt during the 100 Years War with France.
City of Sandwich
Sandwich is a very historical port city on the south-east side of England. The Romans landed in this town when they invaded Britain in 43AD.
The Church of St Peter includes some evidence of early Norman work, but was rebuilt in the early 13th century. In 1661 the top of the central tower collapsed, destroying the south aisle. Unfortunately it is no longer used as church and serves as a public museum.
The sandwich is considered to be the namesake of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718 –1792), because of the claim that he was the inventor of this food combination. During the Middle Ages in Europe, thick slabs of coarse and usually stale bread, called "trenchers", were used as plates. After a meal, the food-soaked trencher was fed to a dog or to beggars at the tables of the wealthy, and eaten by diners in more modest circumstances. Trenchers were the precursors of open-face sandwiches. We hoped to eat a sandwich in the town of Sandwich, but many of the restaurants were not open on Sunday afternoon. Instead we enjoyed a delicious Sunday roast meal.
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Trust in the Lord with your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
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