Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 567 AD, is a World Heritage Site unlike any other. It has seen some of the most important events in Western Europe including the murder and subsequent martyrdom of Thomas Becket, withstanding the English Reformation, and the demise of nearby St. Augustine's Abbey. In addition, the Canterbury Cathedral stood unwavering against the bomb raids of World War II.
The stained glass in the cathedral is almost entirely intact from the 10th and 11th centuries. Stained glass was used at that time to communicate stories with the masses who were mostly unable to read. The later installations of glass in the Trinity Chapel tell the story of the Miracles of Saint Thomas Becket. The Nave and Quire depict a large scale series of glass works called The Ancestors, which illustrate the ancestral line of Christ from Adam. Unfortunately, the series of panels once contained 86 works, but now only 43 survive.
The architecture is quite fascinating as well. It was built using two different architectural styles, the first part of the Cathedral (the Nave through part of the Quire) was built in the Romanesque style. This style is defined by the completely rounded arches. The second portion was built in an Early Gothic style, which is illustrated by the slightly pointed arches in the Quire and Trinity Chapel. This area of the Cathedral is also home to the tombs of Archbishops, King Henry IV, and "the Black Prince," Edward Plantagenet. Thomas Becket's tomb was also in the chapel from the time of his death until 1538, when King Henry VIII ordered its removal, and charged the dead saint with treason.
It is so amazing to live just blocks away from this World Heritage Site. I would highly recommend visiting Canterbury Cathedral to anyone who has a passion for history!
Written by: Elise Sund, visual communications junior