A bit about Canterbury

Canterbury is a bustling modern city of venerable age, and a place of pilgrimage for the historically minded. It was the capital of the Iron Age kingdom of the Cantii, the name survives in today's city and in the county of Kent, and then an important Roman town.

In AD 602, St. Augustine re-dedicated a deserted Roman church within the city wall, creating Christchurch Cathedral, and Canterbury has been the spiritual capital of England ever since. By c1100 it also had a Norman Castle.

The cathedral was rebuilt between 1170 and 1175, creating the bulk of the present magnificent Gothic building. The nave was rebuilt again in 1380 and the great tower went up in 1500. The shrine of Thomas a Becket, murdered here in 1170, was particularly sumptuous. For 200 years it was, Rome apart, the most popular shrine in Europe, thronged by pilgrims, most of whom travelled from London, as did Chaucer's famous group of 1388. The shrine declined in the 15th century and in 1538 it was wrecked by Henry VIII's officers.


Canterbury started as an Iron Age settlement. It was an important centre for the local Celtic tribe, the Cantiaci in the first century AD. In 43 AD the Romans invaded Britain. Late in the 1st century they took over the Celtic settlement and rebuilt it. The Romans called the new town Durovernum Cantiacorum. They laid out the new streets in a grid pattern and built public buildings in stone. In the center of Roman Canterbury was the Forum, an open space lined by shops and by the basilica a kind of town hall. The Forum acted as the marketplace. In Roman Canterbury there were temples. There were also public baths. In Roman times going to the baths was not just a way to keep clean it was also a way to socialize. It was the Roman equivalent of going to the pub. In Roman Canterbury rich people built houses of stone with mosaic floors. However poor people lived in wood and plaster huts. In the early 3rd century a wall was built around Canterbury. The town flourished for 300 years but in the 4th century Roman civilization declined.
After the Romans left Britain in 407 AD town life broke down and Canterbury was probably abandoned. There may have been a few farmers living inside the walls and growing crops or raising animals but Canterbury ceased to be a town. Then in 597 AD the Pope sent Augustine with some monks to convert the Saxons. The king of Kent, Ethelbert, was married to a Christian woman which made the task easier. In 598 Augustine and his monks built an abbey outside the walls of the old Roman town. In 602 he rededicated a deserted Roman church in Canterbury. In 603 Canterbury was chosen to be the seat of the first archbishop. Once it was chosen to be his seat the town began to revive. It now had a new importance. Craftsmen came to live in Canterbury. Among them were leather workers. Leather was used to make all kinds of things including gloves, shoes, saddles and bottles. Furthermore wool was woven in Canterbury. By 630 AD there was a mint in Canterbury and silver coins were made there. Goods were brought to Canterbury by water to Fordwich. Goods came from the town of Ipswich and from northern France. By the 9th century Canterbury had grown into a busy little town. It would seem very small to us but settlements were tiny in those days. By the standards of the time Canterbury was a large town. However Canterbury suffered severely when the Danes began raiding England. Because it was close to the eastern shore of England Canterbury was a natural target. It was raided twice, in 842 and 851. Both times many people were killed. In 1011 the Danes returned and laid siege to Canterbury. They captured it after 20 days. They burned the cathedral and most of the houses in Canterbury. They also killed the archbishop.
When William invaded England in 1066 Canterbury surrendered without a fight. Canterbury Cathedral burned in 1067. After 1070 Normans built a new one to replace it. This new cathedral burned in 1174. The cathedral was rebuilt again after 1175. The Normans also built a wooden castle in Canterbury. In the 12th century it was replaced by a stone castle. Eastbridge Hospital was built in 1190 as a shelter for poor pilgrims. In the early 14th century the Hospital of Saints Nicholas and Saint Katherine was built for poor people. There was also a leper hostel in Canterbury dedicated to St Nicholas. In Medieval Canterbury the main industries were wool and leather. Wool was England's main export and leather was used to make shoes, gloves, saddles and bottles. Another important industry in Canterbury was providing for the needs of pilgrims. Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170 and afterwards many pilgrims came to visit his shrine.
The Old Weavers House was erected in 1507. Christchurch Cathedral Gateway was built in 1517. Henry VIII closed the abbey and the 3 friaries in Canterbury. He also put an end to the cult of Thomas Becket. Despite the loss of pilgrims Canterbury remained a large and important town with a population of perhaps 5,000 people in 1600. Henry's daughter Mary tried to undo her father and brothers reforms and restore the old Catholic religion. She resorted to burning Protestants and many were martyred in Canterbury. In the late 16th century weavers from what is now Belgium came to Canterbury fleeing from religious persecution. The first arrived in 1567. Many more followed and they boosted the population of Canterbury. Meanwhile Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury in February 1564. However he was stabbed in Deptford in 1593. Jesus Hospital (an almshouse) was built in 1599. At the end of the 17th century the travel writer Celia Fiennes said that Canterbury was a flourishing town. She described it as a noble city with handsome and neat buildings. Most of them were made of brick.
In the 18th century Canterbury dwindled to being a quiet market town although it did have a leather industry and a paper making industry. In 1787 an act of parliament formed a body of men with powers to pave, clean and light the streets of Canterbury. In the 1780s the gates of Canterbury (except Westgate) were demolished because they impeded the flow of traffic. Dane John Gardens were laid out in 1790. Also in 1790 a hospital opened in Canterbury. The railway reached Canterbury in 1830 and an art school opened in 1867. However during the 19th century Canterbury remained a quiet market town. Its old importance was completely gone as the new industrial towns of the north and midlands mushroomed.
During the 20th Century Canterbury continued to grow slowly. Westgate museum opened in 1906. Then during the Second World War 115 people were killed in Canterbury by German bombs. The worst raid was in 1942. During it 48 people were killed and part of the town center was destroyed. Canterbury University was built in 1962 and a by-pass was built in 1982. Marlowe Arcade opened in 1985 and the Roman Museum opened in 1994. Furthermore a museum opened in St Augustine's Abbey in 1997. Also in 1997 Canterbury Castle opened to the public.
Whitefriars Shopping Centre in Canterbury was completed in 2005. Today Canterbury is a flourishing town. Today the population of Canterbury is 43,000.


Canterbury may feel like stepping into the past but this city offers a thoroughly modern shopping experience too

Shopping in Canterbury

Canterbury has two very different facets. There is the modern pedestrianised shopping area around the Marlowe Arcade, and the more recent Whitefriars development. And there is the Canterbury of narrow streets and small shops snuggled inside historic, half-timbered buildings.

Dining in Canterbury

There are several hundreds of eating places in Canterbury, covering all four corners of our gastronomic globe to tempt even the most discerning connoisseur.

Use our FilterFind directory to quickly find your eating preference.

Canterbury Markets

Canterbury Street Market - Every Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 5pm

The Goods Shed a daily farmers market with onsite restaurant using the local market produce.

Getting Around

The fast train will get you between London St Pancras and Canterbury West in less than an hour.

Train Travel, Bus Travel, Bike Travel, Park and Ride

Plan your visit

By Road - By Car - By Rail - By Coach - Visitor Centres

Canterbury is less than an hour’s train journey from London St Pancras.

Art and Entertainment

Art and Entertainment



A city steeped in history, heritage and culture


Find everything you need to know about visiting Canterbury

Lawn Tennis Club

Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1889 making it one of the oldest Tennis Clubs in the United Kingdom.


Swimming Pool has an exciting programme of swimming activities for all ages and abilities.

Cricket and Squash

Cricket and Squash Club host a number of different sports, much more than the name would imply.

Canterbury Golf
Canterbury Golf Club

Designed by the renowned course architect Harry Colt, the 18-hole course boasts several areas given SSSI status by Natural England.

Awaiting Content

Awaiting Content

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
The Beaney

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is an Art Gallery, Library and Visitor Information Centre situated in the heart of historic Canterbury.


Once one of medieval Europe's great places of pilgrimages

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Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site.



Take a punt on the river, and discover the secret gardens of this world-famous cathedral city


Discover contemporary works of art on the Canterbury Sculpture Trail dotted in and around Canterbury's city walls, parks, gardens, and riverside

St Augustine's Abbey Canterbury
St Augustine's Abbey

The ruins of the abbey, together with Canterbury Cathedral and St Martin's church, form Canterbury's World Heritage site. The abbey is now in the charge of English Heritage who have developed a comprehensive museum.

John & Ann Smith's Hospital
John & Ann Smith's Hospital

This hospital, or almshouses, is easily dated as both east and west gables have the ironwork figures of ‘1657’ fixed on them. The brickwork which is English bond, that is a line of headers and then a line of stretchers, is typical of brickwork of this early date.

St Paul's Church
St Paul's Church

Why ‘St. Paul’s without the Walls’? The word ‘without’ once meant ‘outside’. This Church was built ‘without’ (outside) the city walls now just across the ring road.

Sidney Cooper Gallery
Sidney Cooper Gallery

This building, named after Canterbury's most celebrated artist Sydney Cooper, stands not far from the Westgate in St Peter's Street.

The Rpoer Gate
The Roper Gate

The Roper Gate is a decorated mid-16th century gateway that once provided an entrance to Place House, home of William Roper and his wife.

St George's Gate Canterbury
St George's Church

The original St George’s church dated back to Norman times, but the present tower is probably 15th century. The church contained an ornate octagonal font. Canterbury’s most famous son, Christopher Marlowe

Canterbury Roman Pavement
Canterbury - Roman Pavement

Canterbury Roman Museum’s story began on what appeared to be a rather unremarkable day in 1868.

Chequer of Hope Canterbury
Chequer of Hope

The remaining visible part of the Cheker of Hope now lies at the corner of the High Street and Mercery Lane but it was once a large inn built to accommodate pilgrims.

Norman Entry Staircase Canterbury
Norman Entry Staircase

This must be the most photographed of all the precincts features. Built around 1160, in the time of Prior Wibert, it can reasonably claim to be the best preserved Norman starcase in England.



Visit Canterbury Cathedral, which houses the famous shrine of medieval archbishop Thomas Beckett

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Cantebury Castle

Canterbury Castle was one of the three original Royal castles of Kent (the other two being Rochester Castle and Dover Castle). They were all built soon after the Battle of Hastings, on the main Roman road from Dover to London.



St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church are also spectacular historical sites


This cathedral city in Kent is less than 1 hour southeast of London by train

Blackfriars Canterbury

The only buildings that remain today of the former Blackfriars (often referred to as the Dominican) Priory are the refectory on the east bank and the guest house on the west bank of the River Stour.

St Peter's Church Canterbury
St Peter's Church

St Peter's church is the only one of six Canterbury medieval churches lying on the main city thoroughfare (Westgate to St George's gate) to have survived for parish worship.

The Old Weavers House Canterbury
The Old Weavers House

One of the most photographed historic buildings in Canterbury, the Old Weavers House is a gorgeous half-timbered building on the River Stour.

St Alphege Church
St Alphege Church

St Alphege church occupies a prominent position in the city and is seen by many tourists and residents as they pass along Palace Street, but is now in the ownership of King's school and not accessible by the public.

St John's Hospital
St John's Hospital

This is possibly the oldest group of almshouses in England as it was founded by the first Norman Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, in about 1085. It was originally built for around 80 inmates.

St Pancras Church
St Pancras Church

When the abbey was built, one of Augustine's companions, named Peter, was elected as the first official abbot of the new monastery. That first abbey included domestic buildings, about which little is known.



The Marlowe Theatre was rebuilt in 2011 and now boasts an eye-catching contemporary design in the city centre

Canterbury City Walls

Canterbury City Walls

The Romans erected the first walls around Canterbury between 270 and 290 AD. Very little of those Roman walls remain. The walls we see today are medieval. A unique and interesting way way to see Canterbury.



The Canterbury Roman Museum explores the influence the Romans had over the city and is built around the remains of a Roman townhouse


Canterbury is a fascinating town of interweaving scenes and contrasts

28 Palace Street
28 Palace Street

For many years this building was known as Sir John Boys' house, on the erroneous supposition that he owned it or lived in it. As Sir John died in 1612, and the date on the roof gable finial has been read as 1617, this was clearly an error.

Conquest House
Conquest House

This is another of Canterbury's much photographed timber framed houses, but as with 8 Palace Street most of what we see from the street.

The King's School Canterbury
The King's School

King's School can make a good claim to be the oldest school in Britain. There was almost certainly a school established by St Augustine shortly after his arrival in Kent in 597 AD.

8 Palace Street
8 Palace Street

This is one of Canterbury's most photographed timber framed houses, with striking external features - particularly the large decorated bressumer beams and two grotesque corbels.


Greyfriars is an unexpected haven of peace and tranquility right in the heart of the city which can be enjoyed every afternoon from spring to autumn.

Jesus Hospital
Jesus Hospital

This ‘Hospital’, or almshouses, was founded in 1595 by Sir John Boys for 8 poor men and 4 poor women, known as ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters‘. Sir John had made a fortune in legal practice.

St George’s Gate

St George’s Gate is the only gate in the city walls that is not of Roman origin but its site now sits at the eastern end of the main axis of the city, with Westgate at the other end.

Riding Gate

Riding Gate was one of the original six main gates that formed part of the fortifications that the Romans built between AD250-270.

St Martin's

This is the oldest church in England that has been used continuously as a church since at least the 6th century and possibly since the 4th century under the Romans.



Award-winning Canterbury Historic River Tours

Canterbury Westgate

Canterbury Westgate

One of the iconic landmarks of Canterbury, the old West Gate stands at the west end of the High Street, beside the River Stour.



Dane John Gardens, once part of a former Roman cemetery


Much loved Westgate Parks - made up of Westgate Gardens, the Toddlers Cover play area

Westgate Gardens
Westgate Gardens

The gardens are a public open space consisting of lawns and gardens along both banks of the River Stour, taking its name from the adjacent Westgate from which the best view of the garden is obtained.

St Mildred's Church
St Mildred's Church

Wander to the end of Stour Street and under a copse of trees and you will find, hidden between the Castle, ring road and River Stour, the oldest Saxon church within the city, St Mildred's.

Maynard and Cotton's Hospital
Maynard and Cotton's Hospital

These almshouses were originally founded in the 12th century by a wealthy citizen called Maynier the Rich.

Eastbridge Hospital
Eastbridge Hospital - Eastbridge

The Eastbridge hospital is partly constructed over the River Stour and is often overlooked in favour of the well known views of the Weavers and King's Mill on the opposite side of the bridge.

Poor Priest's Hospital
Poor Priest's Hospital - Museum

This building now accommodates the Canterbury Heritage museum, but has a history dating back to the late 12th century.

Holy Cross Church
Holy Cross Church

Both Holy Cross Westgate Within and Holy Cross Westgate Without are mentioned in records. However, there has only been one Holy Cross church in Canterbury at any given time.

Falstaff Hotel

Since it is just outside the Westgate, the main entrance to the city from London, this hotel was probably originally built to accommodate pilgrims and travellers who arrived after the curfew and were unable to enter the city that night.

St Dunstan's Church

A small church with historical associations to kings, martyrs, archbishops, and chancellors. The king in question was Henry II. After his conflict with Archbishop Thomas a Becket led to the latter's murder in Canterbury Cathedral, Henry performed a public penance.

The House of Agnes

The House of Agnes is a beautiful half-timbered medieval coaching inn just outside the old city walls of Canterbury. It takes its name from the character Agnes Wickfield, in the novel David Copperfield.

Marlowe Theatre
Marlowe Theatre

An outstanding new cultural building (4,850 sq metres on three floors costing £26 million) which opened on schedule and on budget.


The Buttermarket site, which includes the Christchurch Gate entrance to the cathedral, has been through several transformations over the past 500 years.

Gulbenkian Theatre Canterbury
Gulbenkian Theatre

Gulbenkian is the University of Kent's Arts Centre offering innovative, engaging and high quality arts activity for the public, staff and students.



Dane John Gardens, once part of a former Roman cemetery

Canterbury Public Art

A selection of the art to be found in and around the streets of Canterbury - MORE iINFO BElOW

King Ethelbert & Queen Bertha

King Ethelbert & Queen Bertha

Ethelbert and Bertha by Stephen Melton 2006, Lady Wootton's Green.

Lamb by Kenny Hunter

Lamb by Kenny Hunter

Lamb by Kenny Hunter 2005, Whitefriars shopping centre.

The Pits by Janet Hodgson

The Pits by Janet Hodgson

2005, Whitefriars shopping centre (York stone).



Alluvia by Jason de Caires Taylor 2008, bed of the River Stour, visible from the bridge by Westgate Towers.

Millers Seat

Millers Seat

Millers Seat by Tim Norris 2015, Millers Field, The Causeway

Silent Table

Silent Table

Silent Table by Joss Smith 1999, Dane John Park Portland Stone



Font by Joss Smith 1999, Dane John Park Portland Stone



Bull by Stephen Portchmouth 2016, Tannery Field Westgate Parks - Railway track

Stainless Steel XXV

Stainless Steel XXV

Stainless Steel XXV by Richard Jones 1977, Kingsmead Riverside, opposite Sainsburys

Four Sculptural Sitting Decks

Four Sculptural Sitting Decks

Four Sculptural Sitting Decks by Angus Ross 2011, Kingsbrook Park, Riverside

Abbots Seat

Abbots Seat

Abbots Seat by Andrew Lapthorn 2015, Millers Arm Sluice

Chaucer in Canterbury

Chaucer in Canterbury

Chaucer in Canterbury by Samantha Holland and Lynne O'Dowd 2016, junction of Best Lane and High Street

Greyfriars Seat

Greyfriars Seat

Greyfriars Seat by Alun Heslop 2016, Greyfriars Garden

  • Getting Around
  • Use the map below or Kent Visitor Information Centres to help plan your visit – you’ll find them in all major towns and cities as well as some larger villages. The Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and can get all the help you need from local town maps and transport routes to finding the best accommodation for your trip. Many centres stocking a wide range of merchandise from local books, gifts, traditional postcards and souvenirs.


Canterbury Directory

A comprehensive searchable directory of restaurants, cafes, shops, services and skills in the Canterbury District

Kentpoi Quizzes

We’ve put together some quizzes to test your skill and for fun. The questions have been set to randomise - so you will probably get a different set next time you visit.

Kentpoi Art Quiz 



Music & Dance Quiz 



Pop Quiz 



Canterbury Tales 



Canterbury More Interest
Canterbury Public Art

Canterbury Public Art

A selection of the art to be found in and around the streets of Canterbury Public art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all. Public art is significant within the art world, amongst curators, commissioning bodies and practitioners of public art, to whom it signifies a working practice of site specificity, community involvement and collaboration. Public art may include any art which is exhibited in a public space including publicly accessible buildings, but often it is not that simple. Rather, the relationship between the content and audience, what the art is saying and to whom, is just as important if not more important than its physical location.

King Ethelbert & Queen Bertha

  • Ethelbert and Bertha by Stephen Melton 2006, Lady Wootton's Green Bronze The statues symbolise the powerful political union between Ethelbert, the powerful English King, and his wife Bertha, a prominent figure in a dynasty that controlled much of what is now northern France. As King of Kent (Cantia), Ethelbert married Bertha, a Frankish princess and devout Christian creating a formidable trans-Channel alliance. The two sculptures capture the moment Ethelbert received news of the arrival of Pope Gregory’s emissary, St Augustine from Rome on 26 May 597. The statues serve to remind us of Canterbury’s importance; the cradle of Christianity and one of the first places where the spoken word was written down. It was during Ethelbert’s reign that language was first written down to record laws and customs. Canterbury Commemoration Society came up with the original idea for the statues, raised the funding needed and appointed the artist Stephen Melton. Canterbury City Council provided the site and carried out enhancement works (landscape design), to help bring the project to fruition in 2006.

Lamb by Kenny Hunter

  • Lamb by Kenny Hunter 2005, Whitefriars shopping centre Bronze This bronze work addresses a diverse range of historical, religious and contemporary social issues through its singular sculptural form, a lamb standing on a tree stump. This organic, pastoral composition contrasts strongly with its location. The result is an intimate, tactile and ancient form placed within a busy public environment of modernity. Kenny Hunter's inspiration for the work includes William Blake's 'Jerusalem', the hymn being synonymous with English identity and a yearning for social justice. Situated between the Whitefriars Shopping Centre and Canterbury bus station.

The Pits by Janet Hodgson

  • 2005, Whitefriars shopping centre (York stone)
  • Janet's permanent work celebrates the artistry of archaeology that records and interprets on-site archaeological finds. It consists of sandblasted ‘drawings’ in the Yorkstone paving slabs of Whitefriars Square. These drawings are exact copies of the stratigraphic archaeological drawings of the pits or holes that were found on the site during the excavations, enlarged to full size and positioned exactly where they were discovered. The work was developed during more than a year's observations of the archaeological excavation. Janet was fascinated not only in what the archaeologists found, but also in the detail of the excavation process, what the archaeologists considered important and how they 'drew' time. She was also struck by the archaeological practice of removal - a direct inversion of the normal process of construction.

Alluvia by Jason de Caires Taylor

  • Alluvia by Jason de Caires Taylor 2008, bed of the River Stour, visible from the bridge by Westgate Towers Concrete and glass resin

  • Two female figures are lying horizontally, fixed to the bed of the river and visible from the bridge by the Westgate Towers, looking towards the Westgate Gardens. The sculptures are made of cast cement combined with glass resin. The title relates to the alluvial deposits of sand left by the rise and fall of the river. The sculptures act as environmental barometers, algae accumulating on their surface being indicative of eutrophication levels in the river caused by the release of chemicals and phosphates currently used in modern agriculture. The work draws reference to Sir John Evertt Millais' celebrated painting Ophelia (1851 - 1852).

Millers Seat by Tim Norris

  • Millers Seat by Tim Norris 2015, Millers Field, The Causeway Sweet chestnut and flint
  • The design for the Millers Field seat was inspired by its surroundings. This is the site of a former water mill, an area just outside the city wall and an island enclosed by the river. The concept was to create a seating area made from wood, earth and flint. Its cirrcular wooden structure is reminiscent of an up-turned bevel gear commonly found in historic mills. The structure rises from the ground and contains a napped flint gabion under the seat. This provides ballast and solidity and pays homage to the architecture of the city's defensive walls. The seat is slightly raised with a grass bank enclosing the outside. This small grassy hill with a path up to it reflects the defensive features of a Motte and Bailey castle. Although designed as a slightly elevated seat, it is multi-purposed and provides a sculptural focal feature, a sitting space for up to five people and a play event for children.

Silent Table by Joss Smith

  • Silent Table by Joss Smith 1999, Dane John Park Portland Stone
  • A nearby Roman Guard Chamber set into the city wall close to Riding Gate Bridge inspired Joss to carve a still life composition with Roman connotations. Portland stone was used to produce a bright white focal point at the end of the avenue. Often focal points have a tall, vertical emphasis. In this instance the piece is predominantly horizontal. The enlarged scale gives the sculpture a monumentality and strong, calm, reflective presence.

Font by Joss Smith

  • Font by Joss Smith 1999, Dane John Park Portland Stone
  • Canterbury's religious importance in relation to the birth of Christianity in Britain inspired Joss to call the fountain 'Font'. The form of the fountain was inspired by a poppy seed. The grooves on the top of the seed emanate from a central point, slope down and serve to channel water in all directions. Like 'Silent Table', this piece was carved from light coloured Portland stone. Joss wanted to strengthen the connection between both pieces by using the same type of stone, even though the original inspiration for each was very different. This beautifully crafted piece is bold, and because of its gentle, monumental form, it contributes to the grace and tranquillity of the park.

Bull by Stephen Portchmouth

  • Bull by Stephen Portchmouth 2016, Tannery Field Westgate Parks - Railway track
  • The Bull sculpture provides a unique form of interpretation linked to the past use of the site as a 'Slub Bank' for the disposal of waste from St Mildred's Tannery. Other connections include the Westgate Gardens cow kept by the Williamson family (who formerly owned Tower House and Westgate Gardens) to provide fresh milk, and Thomas Sidney Cooper who painted rural scenes featuring cows by the river in this location. Whilst creating the wildflower meadow at Tannery Field, part of the old Tannery Railway track was unearthed. This sculpture interprets all of this past history in an innovative and fun way.

Stainless Steel XXV by Richard Jones

  • Stainless Steel XXV by Richard Jones 1977, Kingsmead Riverside, opposite Sainsburys Stainless steel
  • This was designed by architectural student Richard Jones to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the enthronement of Queen Elizabeth II. It was originally installed in the Longmarket in the centre of the city in 1977. When the Longmarket was redeveloped in the 1990s, the sculpture was repositioned close to the river at Kingsmead, opposite Sainsbury's supermarket. Richard was studying at Canterbury School of Architecture when he designed it. The clever vertical form using Roman numerals to mark 25, the meaning of which is not immediately obvious, was made by students at Canterbury College.

Four Sculptural Sitting Decks

  • Four Sculptural Sitting Decks by Angus Ross 2011, Kingsbrook Park, Riverside Steam bent oak
  • The artist was commissioned by Canterbury City Council, in association with Berkley Homes, to enhance the experience of using a previously neglected riverside walk on the banks of the River Stour, alongside a new housing development. Angus' idea was that the platforms themselves become art works that would actively engage the public and enable them to spend time close to the river to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity.
  • Angus was inspired by the meanderings of the river with its ripples and eddies, to generate the concept of sculptural seating which reflected these features in a series of differently shaped decks. Long thick planks of solid Scottish oak were steam-bent and shaped to create a series of dynamic places to sit, and possibly fish, alongside the river. Angus was involved in the crucial siting of each platform. He wanted to create the impression of the decks floating over the water (as far as river levels will allow). Quotes by Isaak Walton, known to have fished the Stour at Fordwich and author of the first recognised book on angling entitled ‘The Complete Angler’ (first published in 1653), were inscribed into step risers.

Abbots Seat by Andrew Lapthorn

  • Abbots Seat by Andrew Lapthorn 2015, Millers Arm Sluice Sweet chestnut
  • Inspiration for the seat came from the components used to hold a water wheel in place and also the form of the existing bridge which supports the road crossing. Abbots Mill was one the city's largest manufacturing mills. The space was once the inside basement of the busy mill, however today it is a place to pause and enjoy the view. The sound of rushing water is a reminder of the once great importance of harnessing water power. The seat was crafted from a single piece of sweet chestnut found lying on the ground in a wood close to Canterbury.

Chaucer in Canterbury

  • Chaucer in Canterbury by Samantha Holland and Lynne O'Dowd 2016, junction of Best Lane and High Street Bronze

  • When Canterbury Commemoration Society completed the Ethelbert and Bertha statues at Lady Wootton’s Green, it seemed appropriate to build on this commitment to celebrate Canterbury’s heritage and their successful track record by taking on another project – a statue of that giant of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales reflect another period of Canterbury’s rich history. There are two pieces of sculpture: the figure of Geoffrey Chaucer, created by Samantha Holland, and the horse-hoof shaped plinth on which it stands, created by Lynne O'Dowd. The plinth relief depicts around its circumference all the pilgrims in ‘The Canterbury Tales’ Prologue, each of them bearing the face of a modern Canterbury character. The sculpture is called the 'Chaucer in Canterbury Project' because it is essentially a celebration of Chaucer's writing of the Canterbury Tales. The narrative of the sculpture is of Chaucer greeting his fellow pilgrims as they emerge from their overnight stay at the Eastbridge Hospital on their way to Thomas Becket’s shrine in the Cathedral.

  • Chaucer in Canterbury – The Figure by Samantha Holland Chaucer in Canterbury – The Figure by Samantha Holland Facing the Eastbridge Hospital, and at a height of just over 2m, stands the bronze figure of Chaucer. Rather than representing Chaucer as author and poet, I’ve placed him within the context of this city by creating Chaucer - the character recorded in the verse of the Canterbury Tales. Dressed as a devoted pilgrim of the time, Chaucer leans against a staff, while offering his fellow travellers the observations made about them on their journey down from London. Chaucer holds out the first vellum page of the Canterbury Tales for everyone to read, referencing him as the first master of English literature. Using his own words from the text, I’ve tried to imbue the sculpture with the man’s characteristics: stoutness, wit, modesty and humanity. Looking at the figure straight on, he appears dignified and wise but by walking around the figure, it is possible to see a wry smile appear on the right hand side of Chaucer’s face, indicating perhaps his greatest trait – a sense of humour. The Pilgrims Plinth by Lynne O’Dowd

  • Located between the new Beaney Library and the Eastbridge Hospital, the plinth relief portrays the thirty characters from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Prologue in the re-enactment of the pilgrimage from the Tabard Inn in London to Thomas Becket’s Shrine in Canterbury. The design incorporates symbols illustrating six of the 24 stories they told each other on the way, along with the only one Chaucer actually invented, The Canon Yeoman’s Tale. Artefacts set between the beginning and end of the procession of Pilgrims – a scrolled manuscript, quill, woodcut and metal letterpress blocks bearing Geoffrey Chaucer’s name - represent the technical progress of written stories gradually being made available to everyone. In homage to Chaucer’s lifetime of travel, the silhouette of the plinth evolved from an image of his astrolabe, the latest navigational instrument of the day, which you can just see inscribed into the floor under his feet. His passion for collecting stories on these journeys eventually brought us all ‘The Canterbury Tales’.

Greyfriars Seat by Alun Heslop

  • Greyfriars Seat by Alun Heslop 2016, Greyfriars Garden Cast concrete and oak
  • Greyfriars is a contemporary seat providing a central meeting place. Although made using common materials, a great deal of thought went into the detailed design to protect against vandalism and weathering. The seat itself has been sculpted to create comfortable individual seating positions. The cast concrete curvilinear forms are a literal take on the colour grey, and of course in time, the oak seat will weather to a complimentary silver grey. The paved base anchors the seat in the soft grassed area and is also reminiscent of the stone floor of a building, such as an old chapel or church. The native oak timber for this piece was sourced and milled at 'Willows Sawmill', Uckfield, East Sussex.’
Dane John Mound

Dane John Gardens

  • The Dane John Mound, also known as the Dane John Gardens, is a former Roman cemetery in the city of Canterbury. It was converted into a motte-and-bailey castle in the 11th century, and turned into a civic park between 1790 and 1803. The name Dane John is a corruption of the Norman word ‘Donjon’ meaning a fortified mound.
  • The first construction on the Dane John site was a burial mound, built during the Roman occupation of Canterbury between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. In 1066, Canterbury was occupied by the Normans. William the Conqueror instructed that a castle was to be built in the city; it was built on the south side of the city using the Dane John mound and formed part of the circuit of defence, with property being destroyed to make room for it.This timber motte and bailey castle was later abandoned and the second Canterbury Castle was built just to the north in 1123.

Between Castle Row & Watling Street

  • The Dane John Gardens were built between 1790 and 1803 by alderman James Simmons, in the south-east corner of the walls, remodelling the old castle motte, and incorporating the Roman bank and the medieval wall-walk into the design, although their design was later accredited to William Masters, the Canterbury nurseryman. The ownership of the land was disputed, and the park was taken into the control of the city shortly after its construction.
  • During the Second World War, part of the city walls near the Dane John Gardens were turned into an ammunition depot, dug into the bank of the wall.

What to see

  • The city wall and the embankment form a prominent feature of the south side of the park.
  • The vista over the city from the top of the mound.
  • The long walk across the garden flanked on either side by lime trees, now over 200 years old.
  • A fine war memorial made of the Cornish stone Polyphant was erected in 1903 to commemorate the many members of the local regiment, The Buffs, who lost their lives in the Boer War. The designer was architect W D Caroe and the inscriptions were by Eric Gill. This was restored in 1999.
  • A Victorian bandstand was sold for scrap metal during World War II; this was re-created with a replica in 1999.
  • Shelters, near the bandstand, were built in the embankment of the city wall during the World War II to store ammunition.
  • Another memorial within the gardens is the Weekes Sundial, this is a copy, the original being in the City museum.
  • More recent sculptures in the gardens are the Peace Pavement, the fountain known as The Font (1999) and the Silent Table (1999)

Access: A public garden open at all times

The Cattle Market
  • A cattle market was held outside the walls here since medieval times. During improvements to the market in the early nineteenth century the medieval bastions were removed and the wall was refaced with red brick. Most of the ditch between St. George’s Gate and Ridingate was levelled and stones from the demolished St. George’s Gate were used in the repaving. By the later nineteenth century the market was an important part of city life. The market was held every Saturday for lean stock and on alternate Mondays for fat stock. In 1955 the market was moved to a new site. The city ring road was constructed in 1968.
The Burgate

Burgate Street

  • William Urry, Canterbury City Archivist, wrote that only two Canterbury streets had names more than 1000 years old - Burgate and Old Ruttington Lane. The very name Burgate (gate of the borough) suggests early origins - possibly Roman but certainly Saxon.
  • The nearby wall sign 'St Michael's rectory' serves as a reminder that, along with Holy Cross and St Mary Northgate, the church of St Michael was once located above its city gate. Somner relates that in 1475 the Burgate was in poor repair and rebuilt in brick. Helpful drawings of the gate as it might have appeared in 1540 and 1680 have been prepared by Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
  • There is evidence that the heads of executed traitors were stuck on the gate - Batholomew de Bradlesmere met this fate in 1322. The gate was dismantled over time - the south tower and arch went in 1781, and the remaining north tower in 1822. The inn immediately outside the gate, the Saracen's Head, struggled on until demolition in 1968, making way for the new city ring road.

Today all that reminds of this major city gate are a few building stones and coloured bricks.

What to see:

  • One of the city's dozen or so 'Cozen stones' set in the pavement - this one badly cracked and worse for wear.
  • A few surviving stones from the gate, set high in the wall of the property at number 3 Burgate.
  • Large wall writing reminding us of St Michael's rectory.
  • Coloured blocks marking out the extent of the gate and where it stood.

Access: In open street

St George's Gate (Newingate)

St George's Street

  • St George’s Gate is the only gate in the city walls that is not of Roman origin but its site now sits at the eastern end of the main axis of the city, with Westgate at the other end.


  • In the 10th century a new city main street was formed by demolishing the shambles at the eastern end of the direct line between Westgate and a newly formed gate, creating the streets now known as High Street and St George's Street. This gate naturally became Newingate (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘aet thaem neowan gate’ - at the new gate) and was probably of simple arched form at first, leading to a cattle market called Rithercheap.
  • In the very late 14th century the city walls were strengthened and Westgate rebuilt. Newingate was not rebuilt until 1483 as a smaller copy of Westgate and became known as St George's Gate from the nearby church. The Gate consisted of two drum towers of local knapped flint on ashlar plinths with a drawbridge, portcullis and twin leafed wooden doors and a cross constructed just outside.
  • In the mid sixteenth century the upper part was used as a prison, and later as a storehouse. In 1648 during he Civil War the doors were burnt by Parliamentary troops. They were replaced in 1660 by Archbishop Juxon, at the same time as those for Westgate, Burgate and Christchurch Gates. By 1754 the drum towers held the reservoirs for the city’s water supply, but the doors were removed in 1785 and the whole Gate demolished in 1801 to provide more traffic capacity to a new turnpike road to Dover (now New Dover Road) that had been opened in 1790. The reservoir was moved to the nearby bastion tower on the city wall which currently accommodates the Zoar Chapel. Previously traffic to Dover had to turn right and access the Old Dover Road, originally the Roman Watling Street via Riding Gate, via Dover Street. Traffic to Sandwich had to turn left and access the road to Sandwich through Burgate via Ivy Lane.
  • Stones from the demolished gate were used to pave an area for a cattle market over the levelled City ditch as far as Riding Gate. This was overlooked from the west by the Georgian houses of St George's Terrace, which had been built on the Roman rampart. On 1st June 1942 the market was destroyed by bombing and in the 1950s the current ring road, roundabout and pedestrian subways were constructed. Today there no sign of the Gate except the dark grey paving stones set in the road to mark the plan of the gate, placed there following recent excavations , but easily missed by the passer by. However, the same excavations did reveal a section of the Roman Wall, which is now visible in a small exhibition area within the current wall and towards the modern bus station.

What to see:

  • The current roundabout and the dark grey paving stones marking the site of the Gate showing that the access was no wider than a medieval cart and demonstrating why it was demolished.
  • The exposed remans of the Roman wall together with an artist's reconstruction.

Access: The current roundabout and the Roman wall are visible at all times.

Riding Gate

Junction of the Ring Road & Watling Street

  • Riding Gate was one of the original six main gates that formed part of the fortifications that the Romans built between AD250-270.
  • It is thought that the gate’s name is derived from the original red Roman bricks which gave it a red appearance.
  • When the adjacent roundabout was re-constructed in 1985, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust were able to investigate the site and they found the gate to have been monumental in size, two carriageways and two guard chambers; its size is put down to the fact that it was on the Watling Street, the main route from Dover to London.
  • It seems that it was unnecessarily large as the excavations showed that the south gateway soon became disused and was blocked up; remains of the bottom of the gate and even the nails used in its construction were still in place when the Trust carried out their dig. The massive stone hinge points that allowed the gate to pivot were still in place and shown signs of the opening and closing of the gate. The Trust have produced possible reconstructions of what the gate might have looked like in the 3rd century and in the 18th century.
  • In the 11th century records show that St Edmund’s church was built on the southern carriageway and was only removed in 1349. The gateway was unblocked in 1430 only to be blocked again later that century. It was temporarily blocked again during Sir James Wyatt’s rebellion in 1553. It seems that the gateway caused problems as there are many references to its repair and improvement over the next 200 years. Clearly the Roman arch had fallen by this time as a timber bridge was built in 1576. When Alderman Simmons created the Dane John Gardens in 1791, he also built a brick arch over the gateway. Within 10 years a house had been built under it, leaving room only for pedestrians to pass.
  • By 1884 a cast iron bridge spanned the gateway as recorded on a plaque, until 1942 when it was damaged along with adjacent sections of the city wall during the wartime bombing. The damage was only repaired in 1970 when the present concrete bridge was built, making it possible to walk along the walls again from Burgate to Worthgate.

What to see:

  • The layout of the Roman gateway set out in block work in the present road, now rather indistinct.
  • The present concrete bridge spanning over the road on the line of the City wall.
  • Plaque dated 1884 on the city wall, on ramp.

Access: at all times - public road

Canterbury West Station

Canterbury West Station

  • Canterbury West Station was built by the South Eastern Railway Co (SER) and was opened on 6th February 1846, coinciding with the opening of the Ashford to Canterbury extension of the SER network. Seven days later the Canterbury to Ramsgate section of the line was opened. Canterbury West was however not the first Canterbury railway station; this was located in the goods yard, now a housing estate. It formed the terminus of the Canterbury to Whitstable (C&W) railway which opened on the 3rd May 1830. It had the distinction of issuing the first ever railway season ticket valid from 25th March to 1st November 1834 priced at £2 2s per person or £5 5s per family. Prior to the refurbishment of Canterbury West in 2010 there was a blue plaque commemorating this fact, but unfortunately this has currently disappeared.
  • The proprietors of the C&W were always short of money and it must have been a relief when they leased it to the SER in 1844 and eventually sold it to them in 1852. The SER made a new connection in 1844 from their station to the branch (see the layout diagram) and made the original terminus a goods yard.
  • The original station had canopies extending over the tracks (Image 1), and these were not replaced until the 1930s by the Southern Railway Company. The internal layout on the upside (i.e. London bound platform) was essentially simple, consisting of a central entrance and booking hall flanked by wings with waiting rooms, booking and parcels offices, station master’s office etc. It has been much changed over the years, particularly in 1976 with the opening of two additional sets of doors from the entrance hall to the platform.
  • In 1890s the direct connection from the C& W to the old goods yard was severed, and all trains from the branch had to run into the down platform. Further signalling alterations took place in 1924, with replacement of the two signal boxes, one of which controlled St Dunstan’s level crossing, with the current high level signal box at a cost of £5600. The station and signal box received grade II listing in 1973, followed by the Goods Shed in 1986.
  • Recent alterations (2010) to the station have improved the passenger facilities, but the new footbridge is not the first one at the station. The first was provided by the SER. Unfortunately it was blown down in a gale in the 1890s and replaced by a subway (costing £400) which is still in use.
  • Between 1887 and 1947 (apart from during the Second World War) trains also ran on the Elham valley line from Canterbury West to Folkestone West.
  • A new high speed train service to London St Pancras was launched in December 2009, offering a journey time from Canterbury West of 59 minutes.
Canterbury East Station

Canterbury East Station


  • The station and its line were built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, while Canterbury West station was built by the South Eastern Railway.
  • Although called Canterbury East, the station is about 1⁄2 mile (0.8 km) due south of Canterbury West station, and only about 20 yards (20 m) to its east.
  • The framework of the platform canopies were originally installed at the never-opened station at Lullingstone.
  • The semaphore signals at the station were replaced with coloured lights in December 2011. The elevated signal box remains but is no longer in use, with signalling on the line operated from a control room at Gillingham. The signal box has now been given Grade II listed building status.[citation needed]
  • Canterbury East's ticket barriers were removed in early 2011, as they were the only ones of the kind in the country and spare parts were no longer easy to obtain. Work began to install a new gate-line in October 2016. Coventry and Earlsfield are the only other stations to lose their ticket barriers.
  • The station has a ticket office, an electronic ticket machine, a cafe and toilets.


  • The typical Monday to Saturday off-peak service from the station is:
  • 2tph (trains per hour) to Dover Priory (of which 1 train calls at all stations and 1 is fast to Dover Priory)
  • 2tph to London Victoria via Faversham and Chatham (of which 1 train calls at Selling and 1 is fast to Faversham)
  • The typical Sunday service from the station is:
  • 1tph to Dover Priory calling at all stations
  • 2tph to London Victoria via Faversham and Chatham (of which 1 train is fast between Rochester and Bromley South and 1 train calls at all stops between Faversham and St Mary Cray)

Fictional references

  • In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Final Problem, a short story in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson hide from Professor Moriarty at a station in Canterbury. The station is unspecified but is likely to have been Canterbury East as Holmes and Watson were making their way to catch a boat on the Continental Express from London Victoria station.

Canterbury More Interest
Canterbury Timeline
Canterbury Pilgrims - The Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Timeline

7th Century

  • 603 Canterbury was chosen to be the seat (or cathedra) of the first archbishop.
  • 630 There was a mint in Canterbury where silver coins were made.

9th Century

  • 842 The Danes raided Canterbury and again in 851. Many people lost their lives.

9th Century

  • Canterburys population was several thousand.

11th Century

1001 to 1100

  • The Domesday Book (1086)

  • 1011 The Danes returned and laid siege to Canterbury. They captured it after 20 days, burned the cathedral and most of the houses. They also killed the archbishop, who later became St Alphege.

  • 1013 Lyfing became Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • 1020 Aethelnoth became Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • 1038 Eadsige succeeded Aethelnoth as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • 1050 Robert of Jumieges became Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • 1052 Summer Stigand became Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • 1067 The cathedral burned. The Normans built a new one to replace it in 1070.

  • 1070 Lanfranc, abbott of Caen in Normandy, was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury following the dismissal of Archbishop Stigand.

  • 1070 (c) St Augustine's Abbey was rebuilt.

  • 1071-77 Canterbury Cathedral was rebuilt by Archbishop Lanfranc. It was based on the design of his abbey in Caen.

  • 1086 The population stood at approximately 6,000 at the time of the Domesday Book making it one of the largest towns in England.

  • 1087 William II was crowned King of England, by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury.

  • 1089 Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury died in May. The See of Canterbury was left vacant whilst William II received its revenues.

  • 1093 William II appointed Anselm, abbott of Caen, as the new Archbishop of Canterbury in March.

  • 1097 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm, was exiled by William II for deciding to visit the Pope without Royal permission.

12th Century

  • 1109 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm, died on April 21st.
  • 1126 The Sees of Canterbury and York were declared equal, although the Archbishop of Canterbury was usually to act as the papal legate.
  • 1130 The new choir of Canterbury Cathedral was completed.
  • 1162 Thomas Becket became Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1170 Archbisop Thomas Becket was murdered at Canterbury Cathedral in December.
  • 1173 Thomas Becket was canonized, becoming St Thomas of Canterbury. His tomb in Canterbury Cathedral became a shrine for pilgrims.
  • 1174 The choir of Canterbury Cathedral was burnt down.
  • 1175 Master mason William of Sens began the redesign of the choir of cathedral.
  • 1179 The master mason William of Sens fell from scaffolding at Canterbury Cathedral and was replaced by William the Englishman. He continued building the choir, and Trinity Chapel (of St Thomas), to William of Sens design.
  • 1190 Eastbridge Hospital was built as a shelter for poor pilgrims. 1193 Hubert Walter became Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 12thC A stone castle replaced a wooden one previously built.

13th Century

  • 1205 Walter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, died in July. The monks then elected their subprior as the new Archbishop, but King John overturned this and forced the election of Bishop Gray of Norwich.
  • 1206 Pope Innocent III rejected Bishop Gray as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and persuaded the Canterbury monks to elect Stephen Langton. As a consequence King John exiled the monks to France and retained the revenues from Canterbury.
  • 1217 Archbishop Langton of Canterbury returned from exile in France.
  • 1220 St Thomas Becket's body was transferred to a new shrine In Trinity Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral.
  • 1224 Franciscan friars established a house in Canterbury.
  • 1233 Edmund Rich (later St Edmund) was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1240 Dominican friars established a house in Canterbury.
  • 1240 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Rich, died in November. He was succeeded by Boniface of Savoy, an uncle of Queen Eleanor.
  • 1263 The Peace of Canterbury was established, whereby reforms to government, as dictated by rebel barons under Simon de Montfort, were confirmed.
  • 1279 John Pecham, a Franciscan scholar, was made Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1294 Robert Winchelsey was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.

14th Century

  • 1333 The Chancellor, Bishop John Stratford, became the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1387 Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales.
  • 1390 The rebuilding of the nave and transepts of Canterbury Cathedral began, to a design by King Richard II's chief mason Henry Yevele.
  • 14thC The hospital of Saints Nicholas and Saint Katherine was built for poor people.

15th Century

  • 1414 Bishop Henry Chichele, of St David's, became the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1461 Canterbury was made a county corporate, effectively a small self-governing county.
  • 1475 William Caxton printed his first copy of Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales', which had been written in the late 14th century.
  • 1490 The Bell Harry tower of Canterbury Cathedral was begun, by John Wastell.

16th Century

  • 1500-07 (c) The Weavers House was built. It takes its name from the Flemish and Huguenot weavers who settled in Canterbury in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • 1503 William Wareham became Archbishop of Canterbury in November.
  • 1517 The building of the Christchurch Cathedral Gateway took place.
  • 1533 Thomas Cranmer was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, following the death of William Warham the previous year.
  • 1556 Cardinal Pole was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury on March 22nd. He had only been ordained as a priest two days earlier.
  • 1558 Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury died in November, just 12 hours after the death of the Catholic Queen Mary.
  • 1559 Matthew Parker was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in December.
  • 1567 Flemish weavers first arrived in Canterbury, fleeing from religious persecution.
  • 1576 William Lambarde published 'A Perambulation of Kent', a pioneer antiquarian survey of the county as observed in 1570.
  • 1576 Edmund Grindal, Bishop of York, succeeded Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1583 John Whitgift, Bishop of Worcester, became Archbishop of Canterbury, in August. He succeeded Edmund Grindal.
  • 1599 Jesus Hospital, which was really an almshouse, was built
  • 1600 The population stood around 10,000.

17th Century

  • 1604 Richard Bancroft, Bishop of London since 1597, succeeded Archbishop Whitgift as Archbishop of Canterbury, in December.
  • 1633 Bishop of London, William Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury in August.
  • 1645 Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud was executed at the Tower of London, in January, having been accused of treason by the Long Parliament of 1640 and imprisoned. He was the fifth archbishop of Canterbury to suffer a violent death.
  • 1647 Youths at Canterbury were charged with playing football "and brawling thereafter" on Christmas Day.
  • 17th C According to the travel writer, Celia Fiennes, Canterbury was a flourishing town.

18th Century

  • 1780s The demolition of the gates of Canterbury (except Westgate) took place as they obstructed the flow of traffic.
  • 1787 A body of men were formed with powers to pave, clean and light the streets.
  • 1790 Dane John Gardens were laid out.
  • 1790 A hospital opened in Canterbury.
  • 18thC Canterbury had become a quiet market town although it had an important leather industry and a paper making industry

19th Century

  • 1801 The population at the time of the first census stood at 9,500.
  • 1830 The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway railway line was opened. It was finally closed in 1953. It is believed to be the first regular passenger steam railway in the world.
  • 1835 In local government, Canterbury Municipal Borough was created.
  • 1846 Canterbury West railway station was opened by the South Eastern Railway on the line from Ashford.
  • 1848 St Augustine's College, Canterbury, a Church of England theological college was established.
  • 1860 Canterbury East railway station was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway.
  • 1861 According to the Census the population of Canterbury was 16,700.
  • 1867 An art school opened.
  • 1888 In local government, Canterbury was made a county borough.
  • 1891 The population of Canterbury according to the census was 23,062.
  • 19thC Canterbury remained a quiet market town and its importance was gone as the new industrial towns of the north and midlands grew.

20th Century

  • 1901 The population of Canterbury according to the census was 19,804.
  • 1906 Westgate museum opened.
  • 1911 The population of Canterbury according to the census was 24,626.
  • 1921 According to the Census the population of Canterbury was 18,900.
  • 1939-45 During World War II, the city was severely damaged by bombs. The worst raid took place in 1942 during which 48 people were killed.
  • 1953 The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway railway line (opened in 1830) was finally closed.
  • 1961 The population of Canterbury according to the census was 30,415.
  • 1962 Canterbury University was founded.
  • 1971 The population of Canterbury according to the census was 33,155. 1982 A by-pass was built.
  • 1985 Marlowe Arcade opened.
  • 1994 The Roman museum opened.
  • 1997 A museum opened in St Augustines Abbey.
  • 1997 Canterbury castle opened to the public.

21st Century

  • 2001 The Cathedral attracted 1.2 million visitors.
  • 2001 According to the Census the population of Canterbury was 42,258.
  • 2007 Canterbury hosted the finish for Stage 1 of the Tour de France.
Canterbury Pilgrims - The Canterbury Tales
Canterbury Pilgrims - The Canterbury Tales
  • The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400. In 1386, Chaucer became Controller of Customs and Justice of Peace and, in 1389, Clerk of the King's work. It was during these years that Chaucer began working on his most famous text, The Canterbury Tales. The tales (mostly written in verse, although some are in prose) are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.
  • Chaucer’s work is not simply a story; the Canterbury Tales is also a comment on English society at the time. The very fact that Chaucer wrote in English demonstrates his dismissal of accepted practices. Chaucer’s characters offer various social insights and raise various questions concerning social class, spirituality and religion. The work was unfinished when Chaucer died.
  • The Knight’s Tale
    The Knight is the first to tell his tale. It is a story rich in love, rivalry and chivalry. Two men fall in love with the same beautiful young girl. But who will win her heart?
  • The Miller’s Tale
    A bawdy tale, telling a rather different story of love. A deceitful clerk tries to have his way with the carpenter’s wife – and gets his just desserts!
  • The Wife of Bath’s Tale
    This tale asks the question to which every man would like the answer – ‘What do women most desire?’. The Wife of Bath should know – she’s had five husbands!
  • The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
    A farmyard fable. Can Chanticleer the cock outwit the cunning old fox, or will he become his next meal?
  • The Pardoner’s Tale
    A thrilling tale of death and trickery and one which will leave you with a slight tingle down your spine. The tale has an unexpected ending – watch out!
  • The Reeve
    A very old and irritable man who was once a carpenter. He resents the Miller's tale about a stupid old carpenter.
  • The Man of Law (or Sergeant of Law)
    A lawyer and one of the high justices of the court. He is cautious, suspicious, and wise, and one of the more cultivated men among the pilgrims.
  • Roger, the Cook
    Known for his cooking and characterised by a chancre sore that runs with pus. His story is incomplete.
  • Hubert, the Friar
    A sensual, licentious man who seduces young girls and then arranges their marriages. He loves money and knows the taverns better than the poor houses.
  • The Summoner
    An officer of the church who calls people for a church trial. He is as ugly as his profession; he frightens children with his red complexion, pimples and boils, and skin infected with scales.
  • The Clerk
    A sincere, devout student at Oxford University who loves learning and is respected by all the pilgrims. He is very poor because he spends all his money on books.
  • The Merchant
    A shrewd and intelligent man who knows how to strike a good bargain and is a member of the rich rising middle class.
  • The Squire
    A vain, lusty young man and a candidate for knighthood. He can sing, write poetry, and ride a horse very well, and considers himself a lady's man.
  • The Franklin
    A large and wealthy landowner who enjoys fine living and good companionship.
  • The Shipman
    A huge, uncouth man who can steer a ship but flounders on his horse.
  • The Prioress
    (Madame Eglantine) A very genteel lady who is coy and delicate. She has precise manners, eats as an aristocrat would, and wears a gold brooch with "Love conquers all" inscribed in Latin.
  • The Physician
    A doctor who can speak knowingly of medicines, drugs, and humours, and who knows astrology as well. He is fond of gold and makes a lot of money during the plague season.
  • The Monk
    A man who tends the property of the monastery. He is fat and happy, loves good food and wine, and finds the taverns more to his liking than the cold, severe monastery.
  • The Second Nun
    A very devout nun who, because she believes that idleness leads to sin, begins her story immediately.
  • The Canon and the Canon's Yeoman
    Although not one of the pilgrims, the Canon appears with his servant (the Yeoman) but leaves when his Yeoman begins a tale.
  • The Manciple
    The steward for a law school. Although not as intelligent as the law students, he is clever and shrewd enough to be able to put away some money for himself.
  • The Parson
    A very poor but very holy and virtuous religious man who tells a highly moral tale. He gives his scant money to his poor parishioners and tries to live the perfect life and set an ideal for others.
  • Major Characters in the Tales

  • Duke Theseus (The Knight's Tale)
    His name is that of the famous ruler of ancient Athens who performed many outstanding feats in his life and was reputed to be a great and noble ruler.
  • Queen Hippolyta (The Knight's Tale)
    The wife of Theseus. She was a powerful queen of the Amazons before Theseus conquered the tribe and made her his queen.
  • Emilie (The Knight's Tale)
    Theseus' beautiful sister-in-law who inadvertently attracts the attention of two imprisoned knights, Arcite and Palamon, and thus is the instrument motivating the central plot.
  • Palamon (The Knight's Tale)
    A Theban knight who is wounded fighting against Theseus and imprisoned in perpetuity. Years later, he is the first to fall in love with the beautiful Emilie.
  • Arcite (The Knight's Tale)
    Another noble Theban knight and close friend to Palamon. When Arcite sees the beauteous Emilie, he pledges his undying love for her.
  • Old John, the Carpenter (The Miller's Tale)
    The rich and old carpenter who foolishly marries a lively young girl.
  • Alison (The Miller's Tale)
    The sensual young wife of the old carpenter. She conspires to have an affair with the young scholar and to play an obscene trick upon another suitor.
  • Nicholas (The Miller's Tale)
    The passionate young boarder who uses his knowledge of astrology to convince the carpenter that another flood is about to begin so that he can seduce the carpenter's young wife.
Henry 11 - The Becket Dispute
Henry 11 - The Becket Dispute

The Becket controversy or Becket dispute was the quarrel between Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and King Henry II of England, from 1163 to 1170. The controversy culminated with Becket's murder in 1170, and was followed by Becket's canonisation in 1173 and Henry's public penance at Canterbury in July 1174.

  • Background
  • King Henry II appointed his chancellor, Thomas Becket, as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. This appointment was made to replace Theobald of Bec, the previous archbishop, who had died in 1161. Henry hoped that by appointing his chancellor, with whom he had very good relations, royal supremacy over the English Church would be reasserted and royal rights over the Church would return to what they had been in the days of Henry's grandfather, King Henry I of England.

  • Start of the dispute
  • However, shortly after Becket's consecration, the new archbishop resigned the chancellorship, and changed his entire lifestyle. Previously, Becket had lived ostentatiously, but he now wore a cilice and lived like an ascetic. However, Becket's modern historian Frank Barlow argues that the stories of Becket immediately wearing a hair shirt are later embellishments. He also no longer aided the king in defending royal interests in the church, but instead began to champion ecclesiastical rights.

  • Although a number of small conflicts contributed to the controversy, the main source of conflict was over what to do with clergy who committed secular crimes. Because even those men who took minor orders were considered clergy, the quarrel over the so-called "criminous clerks" potentially covered up to one-fifth of the male population of England at the time. Becket held the position that all clergy, whether only in minor orders or not, were not to be dealt with by secular powers, and that only the ecclesiastical hierarchy could judge them for crimes, even those that were secular in nature (the benefit of clergy). Henry, however, felt that this position deprived him of the ability to govern effectively, and also undercut law and order in England. Henry held that the laws and customs of England supported his position, and that Theobald of Bec, the previous archbishop, had admitted in 1154 to the papacy that the English custom was to allow secular courts to try clerks accused of crimes.

  • Among the other issues between the king and the archbishop were the actions Becket took to recover lands lost to the archdiocese, some of which he reacquired with a royal writ that authorized the archbishop to restore any alienated lands. His high-handedness caused many complaints to the king, and added to the dispute. Another disagreement involved Henry's attempts to collect sheriff's aid in 1163. Becket argued that the aid was a free will offering to the sheriffs, and could not be compelled. This culminated in a heated argument at Woodstock, Oxfordshire in July 1163. Yet another contributing factor was Becket's excommunication of a royal tenant-in-chief who had resisted the archbishop's attempt to install a clerk in a church where the tenant claimed the right to name the appointment. A still later quarrel between the king and Becket resulted in Becket giving way to the king's statement that the custom of England was that no tenant-in-chief could be excommunicated without royal permission.

  • Buildup to exile
  • In October 1163, Henry summoned the ecclesiastical hierarchy to Westminster to hear his complaints about the governance of the English Church. At first, the bishops did not agree with the king, who then asked them if they would agree to observe the ancient customs of England. The bishops remained steadfastly behind Becket, and refused to agree to observe the customs if they conflicted with canon law. The council only met for a day, and the next day, the king took his heir, Henry the Young King, out of Becket's custody, as well as confiscating all the honours that he had formerly given to Becket. This was effectively a dismissal of Becket from royal favour.

  • Over the next year, both sides manoeuvred to gain advantages, working on diplomatic efforts to secure allies. The king, advised by Arnulf of Lisieux, worked on the bishops and managed to swing many of them over to his viewpoint. Both sides petitioned the papacy, and Becket also sent diplomatic feelers to King Louis VII of France and the German emperor. The pope, Alexander III, refused to take sides, and urged moderation on both sides. Becket also began to secure possible safe places of refuge on the continent, if he should need to go into exile.

  • In late January 1164, the king summoned his major barons as well as the bishops to Clarendon Palace for a council. Once it assembled, the king demanded that the bishops and Becket swear to uphold without reservations the customs of the church as they had been in the king's grandfather's reign. At first, Becket refused, but threats and other arguments eventually persuaded him to support the customs, and Becket then ordered the remaining bishops to assent also. The king then proposed to have a committee of barons and clerks compile these customs into a written document, which would be presented to the council. This was done, but in the middle of the recitation of the customs, Becket asked for a postponement in order for him to consult with others about the customs. However, he eventually accepted these customs, and the bishops also swore to uphold these, which subsequently became known as the Constitutions of Clarendon.

  • In August 1164, Becket attempted to go to France without permission, which was forbidden by the Constitutions. He was caught, and then tried on 6 October 1164 at a royal court on different charges of failing to adequately address a suit brought against him by nobleman John Marshal about lands that Becket had confiscated. Once at the council, Becket was found guilty of ignoring the court summons and under pressure from the bishops, accepted the sentence of confiscation of all non-landed property pending the pleasure of the king. However, the original dispute over John Marshal's lands was decided in the archbishop's favour. The king then brought further charges and asked for an accounting of Becket's spending while the archbishop had been chancellor. Another charge was that he was not fulfilling his oath to observe the Constitutions. Becket replied that he was not prepared to answer those charges and was eventually found guilty of both. The archbishop refused to accept the sentence, and fled Northampton and took sanctuary.

  • Exile
  • Thomas took a ship to the continent on 2 November 1164, eventually reaching a resting spot at Sens, where both sides presented their cases to Alexander. Although Becket was not ordered back to England as the king's envoys requested, neither was the king ordered to back down. Instead, Becket went into exile at Pontigny. Afterward, the king confiscated all the benefices of the archbishop's clerks, who had accompanied him into exile. The king also ordered the exile of Becket's family and servants.

  • While in exile, Becket engaged in letter writing, writing to many English noblemen and bishops. He engaged in a series of letter exchanges with Gilbert Foliot, the Bishop of London, who was also the recipient of letters from the pope. Becket continued to attempt to resolve the dispute, but Alexander ordered the archbishop to refrain from provoking the king before spring 1166. Meanwhile, Henry had delegated much of the everyday business of the English Church to Foliot, who although supportive of the king was no compliant supplicant, and was known as a supporter of papal positions. Neither Foliot nor Henry had any great desire to settle with Becket quickly.

  • In late spring 1166, Becket began to threaten the king with ecclesiastical punishments if he did not settle with him. Henry ignored the initial warning letters, but Becket's position was strengthened by the grant to Becket of the status of a papal legate to England, dated on 2 May 1166. On Whitsun 1166, Becket excommunicated a number of Henry's advisers and clerical servants, including John of Oxford, Richard of Ilchester, Richard de Lucy, and Jocelin de Balliol, among others. A bishop was also excommunicated, Josceline de Bohon, the Bishop of Salisbury.

  • The king and Foliot responded to these actions with the summoning of a council that was held at London around 24 June 1166. The council sent letters both to the pope and to Becket, appealing against the excommunications. After the dispatch of these letters, letters from the archbishop were delivered to Foliot, ordering him to publicize Becket's decisions, and disallowing any appeal to the papacy against the archbishop's sentences. Foliot and the bishops then once again sent letters to the papacy, probably from Northampton on 6 July. A more concrete effort was the appeal of the king to the Cistercian Order's general convocation in 1166, protesting the aid the Cistercian monasteries of Potigny, Cercamp and Rigny had given to Becket and threatening to expel the order from Henry's lands. Although the Order did not exactly expel Becket from Potigny, a delegation of Cistercians did meet with Becket, pointing out that while they would not throw him out, they felt sure that he would not wish to bring harm to the Order. Becket then secured aid from the king of France, who offered a sanctuary at Sens.

  • In December 1166, Alexander wrote to the English bishops that he was sending papal legates a latere to England to hear the various cases. Although later writers on both sides of the controversy claimed that there was to be no appeal from the legates' decisions, nowhere in the documents announcing their appointment was any such limitation mentioned. Alexander wrote two letters, one to each of the main combatants. The letter to the king stressed that the pope had forbidden the archbishop from escalating the dispute until the legates had decided the issues, and that the legates were to absolve the excommunicated once they arrived in England. The letter to the archbishop, however, stressed that the pope had begged the king to restore Becket to Canterbury, and instead of commanding Becket to refrain from further escalation, merely advised the archbishop to restrain himself from hostile moves. Meanwhile, John of Oxford had returned to England from a mission to Rome, and was proclaiming that the legates were to depose Becket, and supposedly showed papal letters confirming this to Foliot. The pope wrote to the papal legates complaining that John of Oxford's actions had harmed the pope's reputation, but never claimed that John of Oxford was lying.

  • For the next four years, papal legates were dispatched to try to bring the dispute to a negotiated conclusion. Neither Becket nor Henry were disposed to settle, and the pope needed Henry's support too much to rule against him, as the pope was engaged in a protracted dispute with the German emperor, and needed English support.

  • In November 1167 Foliot was summoned to Normandy, then ruled by Henry II, to meet with papal legates and the king. Roger of York, Hilary of Chichester, and Roger of Worcester were also summoned to attend. After some discussion and argument, Henry appears to have agreed that the legates could judge both the king's case against Becket as well as the bishops' case. Henry also offered a compromise on the subject of the Constitutions of Clarendon, that the legates accepted. However, when the legates met with Becket on 18 November, it quickly became apparent that Becket would not accept negotiations with the king nor accept the legates as judges of either case against him. As the legates had no mandate to compel Becket to accept them as judges, the negotiations came to an end with the king and bishops still appealing to the papacy.

  • 1169: Becket excommunicates his enemies; he submits to Henry II and Louis VII of France at Montmirail. Becket Leaves, folio 2r. On 13 April 1169, Becket excommunicated Foliot, along with Hugh, Earl of Norfolk, Josceline of Salisbury, and seven royal officials. Becket did this even though none of them had been warned, and despite the fact that the pope had asked that Becket not make any such sentences until after a pending embassy to King Henry had ended. Becket also warned a number of others that unless they made amends to him, they too would be excommunicated on 29 May, Ascension Day. In his excommunication, Becket called Foliot "that wolf in sheep's clothing". Although Foliot tried to enlist the help of his fellow bishops in an appeal, they were less than helpful. Foliot then prepared to appeal his sentence to the pope in person, and travelled to Normandy in late June or early July, where he met the king, but proceeded no further towards Rome, as the papacy was attempting once more to secure a negotiated settlement. In late August and early September serious but ultimately fruitless negotiations took place between the king and the archbishop.

  • Foliot then proceeded to Rome, but at Milan he received word that his envoy at the papal court had secured the right for him to be absolved by the Archbishop of Rouen, Rotrou. Foliot then returned to Rouen, where he was absolved on 5 April and reinstated in his see on 1 May. The only requirement of this absolution was that Foliot accept a penance to be imposed by the pope. Much of Foliot's objections to Becket's excommunication stemmed from the lack of warning that Foliot and the others had received, contrary to the customary and normal procedures. Becket and his supporters pointed out that there were some situations in which it was possible to excommunicate without warning, but Foliot claimed that the present situation was not one of them. According to Foliot, Becket's habit was "to condemn first, judge second". Foliot's example of appealing excommunications to the papacy was an important step in the setting up of an appeal process for excommunication during the 12th century.

  • End of the dispute
  • On 14 June 1170, Henry's son, Henry the Young King, was crowned junior King of England (because Henry was still alive) by the Archbishop of York, which infringed on the right of Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury to crown English monarchs. Although there is no definitive evidence that Foliot assisted in the coronation, it appears likely that he did so. The coronation drove the pope to allow Becket to lay an interdict on England as punishment, and the threat of an interdict forced Henry to negotiate with Becket in July 1170. Becket and the king came to terms on 22 July 1170, allowing the archbishop to return to England, which he did in early December. However, shortly before he landed in England, he excommunicated Roger of York, Josceline of Salisbury, and Foliot. One possible reason for the excommunications was that the three ecclesiastics had electors from the various vacant bishoprics with them, and were escorting those electors to the king on the continent in order to reward a number of royal clerks with the long vacant bishoprics. Included among those royal clerks were some of Becket's most bitter foes during his exile. Although Becket offered to absolve Josceline and Foliot, he argued that only the pope could absolve Roger, as he was an archbishop. Roger persuaded the other two to appeal to the king, then in Normandy. When they did so, the royal anger at the timing of the excommunications was such that it led to Henry uttering the question often attributed to him: "Will no one rid me of the turbulent priest". This inspired four knights to set off from the king's court in Normandy to Canterbury, where on 29 December 1170, they murdered Becket.

  • Effects of the dispute
  • For the ten years that the dispute ran, Henry was unable to appoint any new bishops in England to replace those who had died. It was only in 1173 that new bishops were finally appointed.

  • Aftermath
  • In May 1172, Henry negotiated a settlement with the papacy, the Compromise of Avranches, in which the king swore to go on crusade as well as allow appeals to the papacy in Rome. He also agreed to eliminate all customs to which the Church objected. In return, the king managed to secure good relations with the papacy at a time when he faced rebellions from his sons. After Becket's death his sentences of excommunication were confirmed, as well as the suspensions from ecclesiastical office. The pope in his confirmation referred to Roger of York, Foliot, and Josceline of Salisbury, as the "Gilbertine trinity". The excommunication was absolved for Foliot on 1 August 1171, but he remained suspended from office. He secured his restoration to office on 1 May 1172, after clearing himself of any involvement in Becket's murder. The king performed a public act of penance on 12 July 1174 at Canterbury, when he publicly confessed his sins, and then allowed each bishop present, including Foliot, to give him five blows from a rod, then each of the 80 monks of Canterbury Cathedral gave the king three blows. The king then offered gifts to Becket's shrine and spent a vigil at Becket's tomb.

  • Legacy
  • Although little actually changed from the position that Henry took early in the dispute – he was still able to appoint his own choices as bishops, as well as enjoying many of the rights King Henry I had enjoyed in the Church – the controversy was one of a number of similar disputes between the papacy and secular governments in the 12th century.

The Black Prince
The Black Prince
  • Edward of Woodstock KG (15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376), called the Black Prince, was the eldest son of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, and the father of King Richard II of England. He was the first Duke of Cornwall (from 1337), the Prince of Wales (from 1343) and the Prince of Aquitaine (1362–72).
  • He was called "Edward of Woodstock" in his early life, after his birthplace, and since the 16th century has been popularly known as the Black Prince. He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular in England during his lifetime. In 1348 he was made a Founding Knight of the Garter.
  • Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III.
  • Richard Barber comments that Edward "has attracted relatively little attention from serious historians, but figures largely in popular history. Edward was born on 15 June 1330 at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire. He was created Earl of Chester on 18 May 1333, Duke of Cornwall on 17 March 1337 (the first creation of an English duke) and finally invested as Prince of Wales on 12 May 1343 when he was almost 13 years old. In England, Edward served as a symbolic regent for periods in 1339, 1340, and 1342 while Edward III was on campaign. He was expected to attend all council meetings, and he performed the negotiations with the papacy about the war in 1337. He also served as High Sheriff of Cornwall from 1340–1341, 1343, 1358 and 1360–1374.
  • Edward had been raised with his cousin Joan, "The Fair Maid of Kent". Edward gained permission for the marriage from Pope Innocent VI and absolution for marriage to a blood-relative (as had Edward III when marrying Philippa of Hainault, his second cousin) and married Joan on 10 October 1361 at Windsor Castle. The marriage caused some controversy, mainly because of Joan's chequered marital history and the fact that marriage to an Englishwoman wasted an opportunity to form an alliance with a foreign power.
  • When in England, Edward's chief residence was at Wallingford Castle in Berkshire (since 1974 in Oxfordshire), or at Berkhamsted Castle in Hertfordshire.
  • He served as the king's representative in Aquitaine, where he and Joan kept a court which was considered among the most fashionable of the time. It was the resort of exiled kings such as James IV of Majorca and Peter of Castile.
  • Peter of Castile, thrust from his throne by his illegitimate brother Henry of Trastámara, offered Edward the lordship of Biscay in 1367, in return for the Black Prince's aid in recovering his throne. Edward was successful in the Battle of Nájera (April 3), in which he soundly defeated the combined French and Castilian forces led by Bertrand du Guesclin. However Peter did not pay fully and refused to yield Biscay, alleging lack of consent of its states. Edward retreated to Guienne by July.
  • The Black Prince returned to England in January 1371 and died on 8 June 1376 (a week before his 46th birthday), after a long-lasting illness that was probably amoebic dysentery contracted ten years earlier while campaigning in Spain.
  • Edward and chivalry Edward lived in a century of decline for the knightly ideal of chivalry.[6] On one hand, after capturing John the Good, king of France, and Philip the Bold, his youngest son, at the Battle of Poitiers, he treated them with great respect — at one point he gave John permission to return home, and reportedly prayed with John at Canterbury Cathedral. Notably, he also allowed a day for preparations before the Battle of Poitiers so that the two sides could discuss the coming battle with one another, and so that the Cardinal Périgord could plead for peace. However, some argue "he may have been playing for time to complete preparation of his archers' positions."
  • On the other hand, his chivalric tendencies were overridden by expediency on many occasions. The Black Prince's repeated use of the chevauchée strategy (burning and pillaging towns and farms) was not in keeping with contemporary notions of chivalry, but it was quite effective in accomplishing the goals of his campaigns and weakening the unity and economy of France.
Canterbury and Whitstable Railway
Canterbury and Whitstable Railway
  • The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, sometimes referred to colloquially as the "Crab and Winkle Line", was an early British railway that opened in 1830 between Canterbury and Whitstable in the county of Kent.

  • There are a number of other claimants to the title "first railway in Britain", including the Middleton Railway, the Swansea and Mumbles Railway and the Surrey Iron Railway amongst others.

  • Samuel Lewis in his 'A Topographical Dictionary of England' in 1848, called it the first railway in South of England.

  • The initial Act of Parliament for the construction of the line was passed in 1825. Three further acts in 1827, 1828 and 1835 allowed for the issue of a further £80,000 of stock. From the beginning, the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway was a public railway, intended for passengers as well as freight. Indeed, the world's first season ticket was issued for use on the line in 1834,to take Canterbury passengers to the Whitstable beaches for the summer season. Unlike the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened four months later, it used cable haulage by stationary steam engines over much of its length, with steam locomotives restricted to the level stretch.

  • Until the early nineteenth century, Canterbury's line of supply for goods had been along the River Stour which flows to Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate on the eastern coast of Kent. Although this is only seventeen miles (27 km) as the crow flies, the meandering river journey is around seventy miles (110 km). The river was continually silting up, and the cost of dredging such a length was prohibitive. Although turnpikes had been built, four or five carts were needed to carry the load of a single barge.

  • Whitstable, on the coast about seven miles (11 km) due north, was at that time a small fishing village and port with a trade in iron pyrites from the Isle of Sheppey. The idea for the line came from William James who surveyed the route and produced plans for improving the harbour. The immediate problem was that the land between Whitstable and Canterbury rose to a height of two hundred feet (61 m) and railway haulage on steep gradients was technically very difficult at that time. The only alternative would have been a much longer route through Sturry, Herne and Swalecliffe and land acquisition would have been a major cost.

  • Accordingly, the direct route was chosen, with three steep gradients, two of them to be worked by ropes from stationary steam engines. From Canterbury North Lane station, the line climbed for 1 mile 70 chains (3.02 km) at 1 in 46 to Tyler's Hill, where there were two 25 horsepower (19 kW) winding engines. At Tyler Hill, there was an 828-yard (757 m) tunnel.[citation needed] The gradient eased to 1 in 750 for a further 1 mile 10 chains (1.81 km) to the summit of the line at Clowes Wood, where there was a 15 horsepower (11 kW) winding engine. The line descended for 1 mile (1.61 km) at 1 in 31, followed by a level stretch of 1 mile 20 chains (2.01 km) before another descent at 1 in 53 for 40 chains (0.80 km) and a final level section of 20 chains (0.40 km) into Whitstable, giving a total length of 6 miles (9.66 km).

  • Construction began in 1828 with George Stephenson as the engineer, with the assistance of John Dixon and Joseph Locke. The line cost far more than predicted and the promoters returned to Parliament three more times to obtain authorisation for the raising of additional funds. The construction of Whitstable Harbour, under the direction of Thomas Telford, was completed in 1832.

  • The line finally opened on 3 May 1830, with a single track throughout and passing loops at Clowes Wood and the entrance to Tyler Hill tunnel. The track consisted of fifteen-foot (4.6 m) fish-bellied iron rails on wooden sleepers at three-foot (0.91 m) intervals, the more usual alternative of stone blocks being considered too expensive. Initially, Stephenson had recommended the use of stationary engines for the three inclines, with horses for the level sections. However, the promoters insisted on use of a locomotive for the least difficult incline, and Invicta was procured from Robert Stephenson and Company, the twentieth they had produced, and it was brought to Whitstable by sea. Unfortunately, the short gradient from Whitstable proved too much for it, and a third stationary engine was installed in 1832.

  • The line was visited by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1835. The purpose of his visit was to conduct some experiments with a view to silencing some of the criticism he had received in relation to his proposals for the Great Western Railway, particularly the perceived problems of working a tunnel on a steep gradient, which Brunel wished to do at Box Tunnel.

  • Also in 1835, the Invicta was modified in order to improve its performance. The modification was unsuccessful and led to the locomotive being taken out of service and trains being hauled only by the stationary engines. The C&WR tried to sell the Invicta in 1839 in order to clear some of its debts, but no buyer was found. The Invicta was later given to the Canterbury City Corporation, and for many years stood on a plinth in the Dane John Gardens beside the Riding Gate. Invicta is currently on display at Canterbury Museum, cosmetically restored.

  • South Eastern Railway The line was bedevilled by financial problems and was facing bankruptcy when the South Eastern Railway, which had received the Royal Assent in 1844, agreed to take it over, operating it in isolation from their own line. Invicta by now was virtually useless and horse traction was being used.

  • When the South Eastern Railway's own network eventually reached Canterbury in 1846, it decided to convert the line for use with its own locomotives throughout, after upgrading the track. Under George Stephenson's influence, the track had been built to standard gauge, but the loading gauge was small, the height of Tyler Hill Tunnel being only twelve feet (3.7 m) and the South Eastern locomotives were modified with shorter chimneys and lowered boilers. Canterbury North Lane station closed in 1846 and Canterbury West subsequently served the line.

  • Two specially cut down SER locos for Tyler Hill Tunnel The line was never prosperous, even under South Eastern management, and there was a new setback when the London, Chatham and Dover Railway opened in 1860 offering a better passenger service from Whitstable to London. At the turn of the century, work started on building a spur line at Whitstable to connect with the Herne Bay to Faversham line and a bay platform at Whitstable & Tankerton station, but the work was never completed. In the early 1900s, halts were built at Blean & Tyler Hill, South Street and Tankerton which brought some increased patronage.

  • Twentieth century operations. In 1923, the line became part of the Southern Railway and like many other lines around the country it suffered from competition from bus services. Passenger services were withdrawn on 1 January 1931. It continued to carry coal, grain and roadstone, with munitions to the harbour during World War II. By 1948, when it became part of British Railways, Whitstable Harbour had fallen into disuse and what was left of the line's trade had disappeared.

  • Site of Blean & Tyler Hill Halt in 1963 Closure and lifting The line closed with effect from 1 December 1952, although there was a short reprieve during the floods of February 1953, the line being reopened from 5 February to 1 March in order for traffic to bypass the main line between Whitstable and Faversham damaged in the flood. Afterwards, track was lifted almost immediately and the associated infrastructure was removed.

  • Remains today (correct to 2017) All traces of the Whitstable Harbour stations have been removed and the sites are occupied by public toilets and a medical centre, respectively. The concrete base of the former goods shed that stood between the mid-1920s and 2009 is still visible adjacent to the harbour, with the former entrance gates still displaying the initials "SE&CR" (South Eastern & Chatham Railway). The bridges crossing Teynham Road and the mainline were removed in the 1950s, although their abutments are still in place. The famous bridge at Old Bridge Road (previously Church Road) was demolished in 1969. The track bed leading from the site of the bridge adjacent to Whitstable railway station to the site of South Street Halt was surfaced in 1983 as a designated footpath and cycle track. There is no trace of South Street Halt, although remains of the level crossing gates were visible until the early 1980s. The railway embankment can be clearly seen from the adjacent cycle route bridge as it crosses fields and is cut through by the A299 road. A bridge remains near Bogshole Brook, which dates from the line's construction, although it was almost certainly reconstructed c.1846. A section of trackbed through Clowes Wood is also a footpath where the site of the winding house can be found. The site of Blean & Tyler Hill Halt is occupied by the driveway leading to a bungalow. About a half-mile section of trackbed remains abandoned leading to the visible blocked up tunnel mouths of Tyler Hill Tunnel. At the south end of the tunnel, the blocked up tunnel can be seen with a short section of embankment. South of Beaconsfield Road, there is a short section of embankment near St. Stephen's Pathway. A pedestrian tunnel is preserved, probably built during the 1830s following a death on the line. The site of Canterbury North Lane station was a goods yard until the 1980s when it was closed. A plan was mooted in the 1980s to open a railway museum on the site, but it remained derelict until being sold for housing development and the extension of Station Road West in about 1998. The Goods Shed was restored and became the country's first 6-day farmers' market and restaurant. The original weighbridge house and a level crossing gate into the former goods yard are preserved in the development. The Invicta has been preserved, having been extensively restored in 1979, and can be seen in the Museum of Canterbury. The locomotive is not in its original form, since various modifications were made around 1836 in an effort to improve its performance. One of the stationary steam engines also survives, having been in the possession of the University of Kent and is currently (2012) undergoing restoration. Its wheel is visible in Gas Street, Canterbury.

  • Part of the Tyler Hill tunnel collapsed at the beginning of July 1974, causing severe subsidence to some buildings at the University of Kent at Canterbury that had been built on the hill above. The resulting voids were filled over the next year, using fly-ash from Richborough power station. The University's mainframe computer narrowly missed the collapse, being just yards to the east of where, before & after 1977-1980, the computer lab west wall (then nearest to the Gulbenkian Theatre) still had wooden shuttering adjacent to the grassed over tunnel area. In 2017, maps.google.com shows a new building on top.

  • Restoration
  • A seat made by Tim Norris. It is part of a rest area beside the Winding Wheel Pond. In 1997, a charity, The Crab and Winkle Line Trust, was formed to reopen the route as a footpath and cycleway, 'The Crab and Winkle Way'. In 1999, a 7 mile long footpath and cycleway was opened between Canterbury and Whitstable, running along part of the original trackbed. There are plans to allow public access to more of the line.

  • The Winding Pond, which formerly supplied water for the static winding engine which brought trains up the hill from Whitstable, was incorporated into a picnic and rest area for cyclists and walkers on the route.

St Augustine's Conduit House
St Augustine's Conduit House
  • All that remains of medieval waterworks created to supply the nearby abbey of St Augustine. Location: On Kings Park road, off North Holmes Road. Limited parking along the verge, or a short 10 minute stroll from St Augustines Abbey.

  • A reliable supply of fresh water was an essential element of the infrastructure of a monastic community. The location of rivers and streams was often a significant factor in deciding the precise site of monastic houses, but within a town local supplies might be polluted.
  • In such cases clean water had to be piped in from a spring; the water flowed through pipes that were made of lead or hollowed-out tree trunks.
  • Arrangements such as this were well known in the medieval period. Sources of water on a higher level than the monastery were tapped and small buildings were constructed to cover the collecting and settling tanks at the spring.


  • The conduit house at St Augustine’s Abbey dates from the mid-12th century. A roughly octagonal masonry tank is now divided by an 18th century chalk and brick wall.
  • Four tunnelled openings and three smaller ducts, which collect water from springs, lead into the tank. Water was delivered from here to the abbey by a lead pipe 75cm (3 inches) in diameter running from the western side of the structure. The pipe may have led to a water tower at the abbey, which would have fed smaller tanks in the kitchen, infirmary and other parts of the monastic complex.
  • The walls of the tank, which survive to a height of approximately 3 metres (10 feet), are built of flint and chalk blocks on chalk block foundations. The internal wall faces are of coursed flint and were originally rendered. The bed of the tank is of natural earth, with a high clay content.
  • In the 18th century, when the holding tank was divided, a new roof was constructed, consisting of two shallow barrel vaults. This may have been the work of Sir John Hales, who, in 1773, allowed Canterbury the use of the reservoir which he then owned to supplement its water supply.
  • In February 1988 the roof of the conduit house collapsed, though the tank and access tunnels can still be seen.

King's Park, Canterbury CT1 1TF

  • For exact location see modern map below.
East Blean Woods
  • East Blean Woods is a 151.4-hectare (374-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest south of Herne Bay in Kent. It is also a National Nature Reserve a Special Area of Conservation and a Nature Conservation Review site. An area of 122 hectares (300 acres) is managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust.
  • The reserve is ancient semi-natural woodland situated on poorly drained London clay, with a small area of gravelly soil in the south. The underlying clay results in much surface water and mud in winter and wet summers. The soil is mostly fairly acid, as shown by the carpets of bluebells and patches of heather (Calluna vulgaris), but more alkaline elsewhere, with characteristic species such as spurge-laurel (Daphne laureola), sanicle (Sanicula europaea) and common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).
  • The wood has been heavily managed in the past as wood pasture and as a source for sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) coppice. When conditions are open, after the coppice is cut, much of the ground is colonised by common cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense), which is the food plant of the caterpillar of the rare heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) butterfly. As the chestnut grows up again and the shade becomes denser, the habitat becomes unsuitable for the flowers and butterflies, therefore it is very important that regular coppicing is carried out to maintain open areas for our colony of one of Britain's rarest butterflies. The older coppice is, however, valuable for nesting birds such as warblers, and the maturing oak and wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis) stands attract many insects and birds such as woodpeckers, nuthatches and treecreepers.
Canterbury Martyrs
  • 12th July 1555 John Bland, John Frankesh, Nicholas Sheterden and Humphrey Middleton were all burnt together. According to Foxe, they resigned themselves with Christian fortitude, fervently praying that God would receive them into his heavenly kingdom.
  • 6th September 1555 George Catmer of Hythe, Kent, Robert Streater of Hythe, Kent, Anthony Burward of Calete, George Brodbridge of Bromfield, Kent and James Tutty of Brenchley, Kent were burnt.
  • 30th November 1555 John Webbe, George Roper and Gregory Parke were burnt.
  • 31st January 1556 John Lomas of Tenterden, Kent, Annes Snoth of Smarden, Kent, Anne Wright alias Champnes, Joan Sole of Horton, Kent and Joan Catmer of Hythe, Kent were burnt in Wincheap, Canterbury. A monument marks the spot on the road now called 'Martyrsfield Road'.
  • 15th January 1557 Stephen Kempe of Norgate, Kent, William Waterer of Biddenden, Kent, William Prowting of Thornham, Kent, William Lowick of Cranbrooke, Kent, Thomas Hudson of Selling, Kent and William Hay of Hythe, Kent were burnt.


  • For the Catholic martyrs of 1588, see Oaten Hill Martyrs. The Canterbury Martyrs were 16th-century English Protestant martyrs. They were executed for heresy in Canterbury, Kent, during the reign of Mary I. Their story is recorded in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
  • For exact location of Martrsfield Road see the modern map below

Canterbury Cathedral Saints
St Augustine
  • Augustine of Canterbury (c. 530AD - 26 May 604)was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 598AD. He is considered the Apostle to the English, and a founder of the English Church.
  • Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him in 595AD to lead a mission, usually known as the Gregorian mission, to Britain to convert the pagan King Aethelberht of the Kingdom of Kent to Christianity. Kent was probably chosen because it was near the Christian kingdoms in Gaul and because Aethelberht had married a Christian princess, Bertha, daughter of Charibert I the King of Paris who was expected to exert some influence over her husband. Before reaching Kent, the missionaries had considered turning back but Gregory urged them on and, in 597AD, Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet and proceeded to Aethelberht's main town of Canterbury.
St Aethelberht
  • In the 5th Century, raids on Britain by continental peoples had developed into full-scale migrations. The newcomers are known to have included Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians, and there is evidence of other groups as well. These groups captured territory in the east and south of England, but at about the end of the fifth century, a British victory at the battle of Mons Badonicus halted the Anglo-Saxon advance for fifty years. Beginning about 550AD, however, the British began to lose ground once more, and within 25 years, it appears that control of almost all of southern England was in the hands of the invaders.

  • Kent appears to have been conquered by the Anglo-Saxons prior to Mons Badonicus. There is both documentary and archaeological evidence that Kent was colonised primarily by Jutes, from the southern part of the Jutland peninsula. According to a well-known legend, Hengist and Horsa, two brothers, landed in 449AD as mercenaries for a British king, Vortigern. After a rebellion over pay and the death of Horsa in battle, Hengist established the kingdom of Kent. This account now is thought by some historians to be mostly legendary, although essentially the underlying story of a rebelling mercenary force may be accurate, and the date for the founding of the kingdom of Kent is thought to be approximately the middle of the 5th Century, in agreement with the legend. This early date, only a few decades after the departure of the Romans, also suggests that more of Roman civilization may have survived into Anglo-Saxon rule in Kent, than in other areas. The Anglo-Saxon invasion may have involved military coordination of different groups within the invaders, with a leader who had authority over many different groups and AElle of Sussex may have been such a leader. Once the new states began to form, conflicts among them began and dominance of the other nations could lead to wealth in the form of tribute. A weaker state also might ask for the protection of a stronger neighbour against a warlike third state. Over lordship, for either reason, was a central feature of Anglo-Saxon politics; it is known to have begun before Aethelberht's time, although the details are unknown, and kings were being described as overlords in this sense, as late as the 9th Century.

  • Sources for this period in Kentish history include The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written in 731AD by Bede, a Northumbrian monk. Bede was interested primarily in the Christianisation of England, but since Aethelberht was the first Anglo-Saxon king to convert to Christianity, Bede provides more substantial information about him than about any earlier king. One of Bede's correspondents was Albinus, who was abbot of the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul (subsequently renamed St. Augustine's) in Canterbury. Also of importance is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a collection of annals assembled in about 890 in the kingdom of Wessex, which mentions several events in Kent during Aethelberht's reign. In addition to these, there is a history of the Franks, written in the late sixth century by Gregory of Tours, which mentions events in Kent. This is the earliest surviving source to mention any Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Some of Pope Gregory the Great's letters survive that relate to the mission of St. Augustine to Kent in 597AD; these letters provide information about the mission specifically, but also can be used to draw conclusions about the state of Kent and its relationships with its neighbours. Other sources include regional lists of the kings of Kent and early charters. Charters were documents drawn up to record grants of land by kings to their followers or to the church, and they provide some of the earliest documentary sources in England. None survive in original form from Aethelberht's reign, but some later copies exist. There also is a surviving law code of Aethelberht's.

  • According to Bede, Aethelberht was descended directly from Hengist. Bede gives the line of descent as follows: 'Ethelbert was son of Irminric, son of Octa, and after his grandfather Oeric, surnamed Oisc, the kings of the Kentish folk are commonly known as Oiscings. The father of Oeric was Hengist'. An alternative form of this genealogy, found in the Historia Brittonum among other places, reverses the position of Octa and Oisc in the lineage. The first of these names that can be placed historically with reasonable confidence is Aethelberht's father, whose name now usually is spelled Eormenric. The only direct written reference to Eormenric is in Kentish genealogies, but Gregory of Tours does mention that Aethelberht's father was the king of Kent, though Gregory gives no date. Eormenric's name provides a hint of connections to the kingdom of the Franks, across the English Channel; the element Eormen was rare in names of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy, but much more common among Frankish nobles.

  • One other member of Aethelberht's family is known: his sister, Ricole, who is recorded by both Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the mother of Saeberht, king of the East Saxons.

  • The dates of Aethelberht's birth and accession to the throne of Kent are both matters of debate. Bede, the earliest source to give dates, is thought to have drawn his information from correspondence with Albinus. Bede states that when Aethelberht died in 616 he had reigned for fifty-six years, placing his accession in 560. Bede also says that Aethelberht died twenty-one years after his baptism. Augustine's mission from Rome is known to have arrived in 597, and according to Bede, it was this mission that converted Aethelberht. Hence, Bede's dates are inconsistent. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, an important source for early dates, is inconsistent with Bede and also has inconsistencies among different manuscript versions. Putting together the different dates in the Chronicle for birth, death, and length of reign, it appears that Aethelberht's reign was thought to have been either 560-616, or 565-618, but that the surviving sources have confused the two traditions.

  • It is possible that Aethelberht was converted to Christianity before Augustine's arrival. His wife was a Christian and brought a Frankish bishop to attend her at court, so Aethelberht would have had knowledge of Christianity before the mission reached Kent. It also is possible that Bede had the date of his death wrong; if, in fact, the king died in 618, this would be consistent with his baptism in 597, which is in accord with the tradition that Augustine converted the king within a year of his arrival.

  • Gregory of Tours, in his Historia Francorum, writes that Bertha, daughter of Charibert, king of the Franks, married the son of the king of Kent. Bede says that Aethelberht received Bertha 'from her parents'. If Bede is interpreted literally, the marriage would have had to take place before 567, when Charibert died. The traditions for Aethelberht's reign, then, would imply that he married Bertha before either 560 or 565. The extreme length of Aethelberht's reign also has been regarded with scepticism by historians; it has been suggested that he died in the 56th year of his life, rather than the 56th year of his reign. This would place the year of his birth approximately at 560AD, and he would not then have been able to marry until the mid-570s. According to Gregory of Tours, Charibert was king when he married Ingoberg, Bertha's mother, which places that marriage no earlier than 561. It therefore is unlikely that Bertha was married much before about 580. These later dates for Bertha and Aethelberht also solve another possible problem: Aethelberht's daughter, Aethelburh, seems likely to have been Bertha's child, but the earlier dates would have Bertha aged 60 or so at Aethelburh's likely birthdate using the early dates. Gregory, however, also says that he thinks that Ingoberg was seventy years old in 589; and this would make her about forty when she married Charibert. This is possible, but seems unlikely, especially as Charibert seems to have had a preference for younger women, again, according to Gregory's account. This would imply an earlier birth date for Bertha. On the other hand, Gregory refers to Aethelberht at the time of his marriage to Bertha, simply as 'a man of Kent', and in the 589 passage concerning Ingoberg's death, which was written in about 590 or 591, he refers to Aethelberht as 'the son of the king of Kent'. If this does not simply reflect Gregory's ignorance of Kentish affairs, which seems unlikely given the close ties between Kent and the Franks, then some assert that Aethelberht's reign cannot have begun before 589.

  • Not all of the above contradictions can be reconciled, but the most probable dates that may be drawn from the data, place Aethelberht's birth at approximately 560, and perhaps, his marriage to Bertha at 580. His reign is most likely to have begun in 589 or 590. The later history of Kent shows clear evidence of a system of joint kingship, with the kingdom being divided into east and west Kent, although it appears that there generally was a dominant king. This evidence is less clear for the earlier period, but there are early charters, known to be forged, which nevertheless imply that Aethelberht ruled as joint king with his son, Eadbald. It may be that Aethelberht was king of east Kent and Eadbald ruled the west; the east Kent king seems generally to have been the dominant ruler later in Kentish history. Whether or not Eadbald became a joint king with Aethelberht, there is no question that Aethelberht had authority throughout the kingdom. The division into two kingdoms is most likely to date back to the 6th Century; east Kent may have conquered west Kent and preserved the institutions of kingship as a subkingdom. This was a common pattern in Anglo-Saxon England, as the more powerful kingdoms absorbed their weaker neighbours. An unusual feature of the Kentish system was that only sons of kings appeared to be legitimate claimants to the throne, although this did not eliminate all strife over the succession.

  • The main towns of the two kingdoms were Rochester, for west Kent, and Canterbury, for the east. Bede does not state that Aethelberht had a palace in Canterbury, but he does refer to Canterbury as his metropolis, and it is clear that it is Aethelberht's seat.

  • There are many indications of close relations between Kent and the Franks. Aethelberht's marriage to Bertha certainly connected the two courts, although not as equals: the Franks would have thought of Aethelberht as an under-king. There is no record that Aethelberht ever accepted a continental king as his overlord and, as a result, historians are divided on the true nature of the relationship. Evidence for an explicit Frankish over lordship of Kent comes from a letter written by Pope Gregory the Great to Theuderic, king of Orleans, and Theudebert, king of Metz. The letter concerned Augustine's mission to Kent in 597, and in it, Gregory says that he believes 'that you wish your subjects in every respect to be converted to that faith in which you, their kings and lords, stand'. It may be that this is a papal compliment, rather than a description of the relationship between the kingdoms. It also has been suggested that Liudhard, Bertha's chaplain, was intended as a representative of the Frankish church in Kent, which also could be interpreted as evidence of over lordship.

  • A possible reason for the willingness of the Franks to connect themselves with the Kentish court is the fact that a Frankish king, Chilperic I, is recorded as having conquered a people known as the Euthiones during the mid-6th Century. If, as seems likely from the name, these people were the continental remnants of the Jutish invaders of Kent, then it may be that the marriage was intended as a unifying political move, reconnecting different branches of the same people. Another perspective on the marriage may be gained by considering that it is likely that Aethelberht was not yet king at the time he and Bertha were wed: it may be that Frankish support for him, acquired via the marriage, was instrumental in gaining the throne for him.

  • Regardless of the political relationship between Aethelberht and the Franks, there is abundant evidence of strong connections across the English Channel. There was a luxury trade between Kent and the Franks, and burial artefacts found include clothing, drink, and weapons that reflect Frankish cultural influence. The Kentish burials have a greater range of imported goods than those of the neighbouring Anglo-Saxon regions. This is not surprising given the easier access to trade. In addition, the grave goods are both richer and more numerous in Kentish graves than in those of the Anglo-Saxon regions, implying that the material wealth exhibited in Kent were derived from that trade. Frankish influences also may be detected in the social and agrarian organization of Kent. Other cultural influences may be seen in the burials as well, so it is not necessary to presume that there was direct settlement by the Franks in Kent.

  • In his Ecclesiastical History, Bede includes his list of seven kings who held 'imperium' over the other kingdoms south of the Humber. The usual translation for 'imperium' is over lordship. Bede names Aethelberht as the third on the list, after AElle of Sussex and Ceawlin of Wessex. The anonymous annalist who composed one of the Anglo-Saxons chronicles repeated Bede's list of seven kings in a famous entry under the year 827, with one additional king, Egbert of Wessex. The Chronicle also states that these kings held the title bretwalda, or Britain-ruler. The exact meaning of bretwalda has been the subject of much debate; it has been described as a term of encomiastic poetry, but there is also evidence that it implied a definite role of military leadership.

  • The prior bretwalda noted, Ceawlin, is recorded by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as having fought Aethelberht in 568. The entry states that Aethelberht lost the battle and was driven back to Kent. The dating of the entries concerning the West Saxons in this section of the Chronicle is thought to be unreliable and a recent analysis suggests that Ceawlin's reign is more likely to have been approximately 581-588, rather than the dates of 560-592 that are given in the Chronicle. The battle was at Wibbandun, which may be translated as Wibba's Mount; it is not known where this was.

  • At some point Ceawlin ceased to hold the title of bretwalda, perhaps, after a battle at Stoke Lyne, in Oxfordshire, which the Chronicle dates to 584, some eight years before he was deposed in 592 (again using the Chronicle's unreliable dating). Aethelberht certainly was a dominant ruler by 601, when Gregory the Great wrote to him: Gregory urges Aethelberht to spread Christianity among those kings and peoples subject to him, implying some level of over lordship. If the battle of Wibbandun was fought circa 590, as has been suggested, then Aethelberht must have gained his position as overlord sometime in the 590s. This dating for Wibbandun is slightly inconsistent with the proposed dates of 581-588 for Ceawlin's reign, but those dates are not thought to be precise, merely the most plausible given the available data.

  • In addition to the evidence of the Chronicle, that Aethelberht was accorded the title of bretwalda, there is evidence of his domination in several of the southern kingdoms. In Essex, he appears to have been in a position to exercise authority shortly after 604, when his intervention helped in the conversion of King Saebert of Essex, his nephew, to Christianity. It was Aethelberht, and not Saeberht, who built and endowed St. Pauls in London, where St. Paul's Cathedral now stands. Further evidence is provided by Bede, who explicitly describes Aethelberht as Saeberht's overlord.

  • Bede describes Aethelberht's relationship with Raedwald, king of East Anglia, in a passage that is ambiguous. It seems to imply that Radwald retained ducatus, or military command of his people, even while Aethelberht held imperium, the rule. This implies further, that being a bretwalda usually included holding the military command of other kingdoms and also that it was more than that, since Aethelberht is bretwalda despite Raedwald's control of his own troops. Radwald was converted to Christianity while in Kent, but did not abandon his pagan beliefs; this, and the fact that he retained military independence, together, implies that Aethelberht's over lordship of East Anglia was much weaker than his influence with the East Saxons. An alternative interpretation, however, is that the passage in Bede should be translated as 'Raedwald, king of the East Angles, who while Aethelberht lived, even conceded to him the military leadership of his people'; if this is Bede's intent, then East Anglia firmly was under Aethelberht's over lordship.

  • There is no evidence that Aethelberht's influence in other kingdoms was enough for him to convert any other kings to Christianity, although this interpretation partly is due to the lack of sources -nothing is known of Sussex's history, for example, for almost all of the 7th and 8th Centuries. Aethelberht was able to arrange a meeting in 602 in the Severn valley, on the north-western borders of Wessex, however, and this may be an indication of the extent of his influence in the west. No evidence survives showing Kentish domination of Mercia, but it is known that Mercia was independent of Northumbria, so it is quite plausible that it was under Kentish over lordship.

  • The native Britons had converted to Christianity under Roman rule. The Anglo-Saxon invasions separated the British church from European Christianity for centuries, so the church in Rome had no presence or authority in Britain, and in fact, Rome knew so little about the British church that it was unaware of any schism in customs. Aethelberht, however, would have known something about the Roman church from his Frankish wife, Bertha, who had brought a bishop, Liudhard, with her across the Channel. Aethelberht had a chapel built for her.

  • In 596, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine, prior of the monastery of St. Andrew in Rome, to England as a missionary, and in 597, a group of nearly forty monks, led by Augustine, landed on the Isle of Thanet in Kent. According to Bede, Aethelberht was sufficiently distrustful of the newcomers to insist on meeting them under the open sky, to prevent them from performing sorcery. The monks impressed him, but he was not converted immediately. He agreed to allow the mission to settle in Canterbury and permitted them to preach.

  • It is not known when Aethelberht became a Christian. It is possible, despite Bede's account, that he already was a Christian before Augustine's mission arrived. It is likely that Liudhard and Bertha pressed him to consider becoming a Christian before the arrival of the mission, and it also is likely that a condition of his marriage to Bertha might have been that he would consider conversion. Conversion via the influence of the Frankish court would have been seen as an explicit recognition of Frankish over lordship, however, so it is possible that Aethelberht's delay of his conversion until it could be accomplished via Roman influence, might have been an assertion of independence from Frankish control. It also has been argued that Augustine's hesitation -he turned back to Rome, asking to be released from the mission- is an indication that Aethelberht was a pagan at the time Augustine was sent.

  • At the latest, Aethelberht must have converted before 601, since that year Gregory wrote to him as a Christian king. It is recorded, that he converted on 1 June, in the summer of the year that Augustine arrived. Through Aethelberht's influence Saeberht, king of Essex, was also converted, but there were limits to the effectiveness of the mission. The entire Kentish court did not convert: Eadbald, Aethelberht's son and heir, was a pagan at his accession. Raedwald, king of East Anglia, was only partly converted (apparently while at Aethelberht's court), and retained a pagan shrine next to the new Christian altar. Augustine also was unsuccessful in gaining the allegiance of the British clergy.

  • Some time after the arrival of Augustine's mission, perhaps in 602 or 603, Aethelberht issued a set of laws, in ninety sections. These laws are considered the earliest surviving code composed in any of the Germanic countries, and almost certainly were one of the very first documents written down in Anglo-Saxon, as literacy would have arrived in England with Augustine's mission. The only surviving early manuscript, the Textus Roffensis, dates from the twelfth century, and it now resides in the Medway Studies Centre in Strood, Kent. Aethelberht's code makes reference to the church in the very first item, which enumerates the compensation required for the property of a bishop, a deacon, a priest, and so on; but overall, the laws seem remarkably uninfluenced by Christian principles. Bede asserted that they were composed 'after the Roman manner', but there is little discernible Roman influence either. In subject matter, the laws have been compared to the Lex Salica of the Franks, but it is not thought that Aethelberht based his new code on any specific previous model.

  • The laws are concerned with setting and enforcing the penalties for transgressions at all levels of society; the severity of the fine depended on the social rank of the victim, with crimes against the Church penalised the most, more greatly even than those against the king. The king had a financial interest in enforcement, for part of the fines would come to him in many cases, but the king also was responsible for law and order, and avoiding blood feuds by enforcing the rules on compensation for injury was part of the way the king maintained control. Aethelberht's laws are mentioned by Alfred the Great, who compiled his own laws, making use of the prior codes created by the King of Kent, as well as those of Offa of Mercia and Ine of Wessex.

  • One of Aethelberht's laws seems to preserve a trace of a very old custom: the third item in the code states 'If the king is drinking at a man's home, and anyone commits any evil deed there, he is to pay twofold compensation'. This probably refers to the ancient custom of a king traveling the country, being hosted, and being provided for by his subjects wherever he went. The king's servants retained these rights for centuries after Aethelberht's time.

  • Items 77-81 in the code have been interpreted as a description of a woman's financial rights after a divorce or legal separation. These clauses define how much of the household goods a woman could keep in different circumstances, depending on whether she keeps custody of the children, for example. It has recently been suggested by one source, however, that it would be more correct to interpret these clauses as referring to women who are widowed, rather than divorced.

  • There is little documentary evidence about the nature of trade in Aethelberht's Kent. It is known that the kings of Kent had established royal control of trade in the late 7th Century, but it is not known how early this control began. There is archaeological evidence that suggests the royal influence predates any of the written sources. It has been suggested that one of Aethelberht's achievements was to take control of trade away from the aristocracy and to make it a royal monopoly. The continental trade provided Kent access to luxury goods which gave Kent an advantage in trading with the other Anglo-Saxon nations and the revenue from trade was important in itself.

  • Kentish manufacture before 600 included glass beakers and jewellery. Kentish jewellers were highly skilled and before the end of the 6th Century, they gained access to gold. Goods from Kent are found in cemeteries across the channel, and as far away as at the mouth of the Loire. It is not known what Kent traded for all of this wealth, although it seems likely that there was a flourishing slave trade. It may well be that this wealth was the foundation of Aethelberht's strength, although his over lordship and the associated right to demand tribute, would have brought wealth in its turn.

  • It may have been during Aethelberht's reign that coins first began to be minted in England: none bear his name, but it is thought likely that the first coins predate the end of the 6th Century. These early coins were gold, and probably shillings (scillingas in Old English) that are mentioned in Aethelberht's laws. The coins are also known to numismatists as 'thrymsas'.

  • Aethelberht died on 24 February 616 and was succeeded by his son, Eadbald, who was not a Christian Bede says he had been converted but went back to his pagan faith, although he ultimately did become a Christian king. Eadbald outraged the church by marrying his stepmother, which was contrary to Church law, and by refusing to accept baptism.

  • Saeberht of the East Saxons also died at approximately this time and he was succeeded by his three sons, none of whom were Christian. A subsequent revolt against Christianity and the expulsion of Mellitus, their bishop, may have been a reaction to Kentish over lordship after Aethelberht's death as much as a pagan opposition to Christianity.

  • In addition to Eadbald, it is possible that Aethelberht had another son, Aethelwald. The evidence for this exists in a papal letter to Justus, archbishop of Canterbury from 619 to 625, in which a king named Aduluald is referred to, who apparently is different from Audubald, which refers to Eadbald. There is no agreement among modern scholars on how to interpret this: Aduluald might be intended as a representation of Aethelwald and hence, this may be an indication of another king, perhaps a subking of west Kent; or it may be merely a scribal error which should be read as referring to Eadbald.

  • Aethelberht later was canonised for his role in establishing Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons. His feast day was originally 24 February, but changed to 25 February.

St Mellitius
  • The medieval chronicler Bede described St Mellitus as being of noble birth. In letters, Pope Gregory I called him an abbot, but it is unclear whether Mellitus had previously been abbot of a Roman monastery, or this was a rank bestowed on him to ease his journey to England by making him the leader of the expedition. The papal register, a listing of letters sent out by the popes, describes him as an 'abbot in Frankia' in its description of the correspondence, but the letter itself only says 'abbot'. The first time Mellitus is mentioned in history is in the letters of Gregory, and nothing else of his background is known. It appears likely that he was a native of Italy, along with all the other bishops consecrated by Augustine.
  • Pope Gregory sent St Mellitus to England in June 601, in response to an appeal from Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Augustine needed more clergy to join the Gregorian mission that was converting the kingdom of Kent, and then ruled by Aethelberht. The new missionaries brought with them a gift of books and all things which were needed for worship and the ministry of the Church. Thomas of Elmham, a 15th Century Canterbury chronicler, claimed that in his day a number of the books brought to England by Mellitus still at Canterbury. Examination of the remaining manuscripts has determined that one possible survivor of Mellitus' books is the St. Augustine Gospels, now in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 286. Along with the letter to Augustine, the missionaries brought a letter for Aethelberht, urging the King to act like the Roman Emperor Constantine I and force the conversion of his followers to Christianity. The King was also encouraged to destroy all pagan shrines.
  • The historian Ian Wood has suggested that Mellitus' journey through Gaul probably took in the bishoprics of Vienne, Arles, Lyons, Toulon, Marseilles, Metz, Paris, and Rouen, as evidenced by the letters that Gregory addressed to those bishops soliciting their support for Mellitus' party. Gregory also wrote to the Frankish kings Chlothar II, Theuderic II, Theudebert II, along with Brunhilda of Austrasia, who was Theudebert and Theuderic's grandmother and regent. Wood feels that this wide appeal to the Frankish episcopate and royalty was an effort to secure more support for the Gregorian mission. While on his journey to England, Mellitus received a letter from Gregory allowing Augustine to convert pagan temples to Christian churches, and to convert pagan animal sacrifices into Christian feasts, to ease the transition to Christianity. Gregory's letter marked a sea change in the missionary strategy, and was later included in Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. Usually known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, it conflicts with the letter sent to Aethelberht, which the historian R. A. Markus sees as a turning point in missionary history, when forcible conversion gave way to persuasion. This traditional view, that the Epistola represents a contradiction of the letter to Aethelberht, has been challenged by the historian and theologian George Demacopoulos, who argues that the letter to Aethelberht was mainly meant to encourage the King in spiritual matters, while the Epistola was sent to deal with purely practical matters, and thus the two do not contradict each other.
  • Exactly when St Mellitus and his party arrived in England is unknown, but he was certainly in the country by 604AD, when Augustine consecrated him as bishop in the province of the East Saxons, making Mellitus the first Bishop of London (London was the East Saxons' capital). The city was a logical choice for a new bishopric, as it was a hub for the southern road network. It was also a former Roman town; many of the Gregorian mission's efforts were centred in such locations. Before his consecration, Mellitus baptised Saeberht, Aethelberht's nephew, who then allowed the bishopric to be established. The Episcopal Church built in London was probably founded by Aethelberht, rather than Saeberht. Although Bede records that Aethelberht gave lands to support the new episcopate, a charter that claims to be a grant of lands from Aethelberht to Mellitus is a later forgery.
  • Although Gregory had intended London to be the southern archbishopric for the island, Augustine never moved his episcopal see to London, and instead consecrated Mellitus as a plain bishop there. After Augustine's death in 604, Canterbury continued to be the site of the southern archbishopric, and London remained a bishopric. It may have been that the Kentish king did not wish greater episcopal authority to be exercised outside his own kingdom.
  • Mellitus attended a council of bishops held in Italy in February 610, convened by Pope Boniface IV. The historian N. J. Higham speculates that one reason for his attendance may have been to assert the English Church's independence from the Frankish Church. Boniface had Mellitus take two papal letters back to England, one to Aethelbert and his people, and another to Laurence, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He also brought back the synod's decrees to England. No authentic letters or documents from this synod remain, although some were forged in the 1060s and 1070s at Canterbury. During his time as a bishop, St Mellitus joined with Justus, the Bishop of Rochester, in signing a letter that Laurence wrote to the Celtic bishops urging the Celtic Church to adopt the Roman method of calculating the date of Easter.
  • Both Aethelberht and Saeberht died around 616 or 618, causing a crisis for the mission. Saberht's three sons had not converted to Christianity, and drove Mellitus from London. Bede says that Mellitus was exiled because he refused the brothers' request for a taste of the sacramental bread. Whether this occurred immediately after Saeberht's death or later is impossible to determine from Bede's chronology, which has both events in the same chapter but gives neither an exact time frame nor the elapsed time between the two events. The historian N. J. Higham connects the timing of this episode with a change in the 'over kingship' from the Christian Kentish Aethelberht to the pagan East Anglian Raedwald, which Higham feels happened after Aethelberht's death. In Higham's view, Saeberht's sons drove Mellitus from London because they had passed from Kentish over lordship to East Anglian, and thus no longer needed to keep Mellitus, who was connected with the Kentish kingdom, in office.
  • Mellitus fled first to Canterbury, but Aethelberht's successor Eadbald was also a pagan, so Mellitus, accompanied by Justus, took refuge in Gaul. Mellitus was recalled to Britain by Laurence, the second Archbishop of Canterbury, after his conversion of Eadbald. How long Mellitus' exile lasted is unclear. Bede claims it was a year, but it may have been longer. However, Mellitus did not return to London, because the East Saxons remained pagan. Although Mellitus fled, there does not seem to have been any serious persecution of Christians in the East Saxon kingdom. The East Saxon see was not occupied again until Cedd was consecrated as bishop in about 654.
  • Mellitus succeeded Laurence as the third Archbishop of Canterbury after the latter's death in 619. During his tenure as archbishop, St Mellitus supposedly performed a miracle in 623AD by diverting a fire that had started in Canterbury and threatened the church. He was carried into the flames, upon which the wind changed direction, thus saving the building. Bede praised Mellitus' sane mind, but other than the miracle, little happened during his time as archbishop. Bede also mentioned that Mellitus suffered from gout. Boniface wrote to Mellitus encouraging him in the mission, perhaps prompted by the marriage of Aethelburg of Kent to King Edwin of Northumbria. Whether Mellitus received a pallium, the symbol of an archbishop's authority, from the pope is unknown.
  • Mellitus died on 24 April 624, and was buried at St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury that same day. He became revered as a saint after his death, and was allotted the feast day of 24 April. He was still venerated at St Augustine's in 1120, along with a number of other local saints. There was also a shrine to him at Old St Paul's Cathedral in London. Shortly after the Norman conquest of England, Goscelin wrote a life of Mellitus, the first of several to appear around that time, but none contain any information not included in Bede's earlier works. They do, however, reveal that in that period, persons suffering from gout were urged to pray at his tomb. Goscelin records that Mellitus' shrine flanked that of Augustine, along with Laurence, in the eastern central chapel of the presbytery.
St Dunstan
  • Dunstan was born in Baltonsborough circa. 909-910AD. He was the son of Heorstan, a noble of Wessex. It is recorded that his mother, Cynethryth, was a pious woman. Osbern relates a messenger miraculously told her that she would give birth to a saintly child:
  • She was in the church of St Mary on Candleday, when all the lights were suddenly extinguished. Then the candle held by Cynethryth was as suddenly relighted, and all present lit their candles at this miraculous flame, thus foreshadowing that the boy 'would be the minister of eternal light' to the Church of England. The anonymous author of the earliest 'Life' places Dunstan's birth during the reign of Athelstan, while Osbern fixed it at the first year of the reign of King AEthelstan, 924 or 925. This date, however, cannot be reconciled with other known dates of Dunstan's life and creates many obvious anachronisms. Historians therefore assume that Dunstan was born c. 910 or earlier.
  • As a young boy, Dunstan studied under the Irish monks who then occupied the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. Accounts tell of his youthful optimism and of his vision of the abbey being restored. While still a boy, Dunstan was stricken with a near-fatal illness and affected a seemingly miraculous recovery. Even as a child, he was noted for his devotion to learning and for his mastery of many kinds of artistic craftsmanship. With his parent's consent, he was tonsured, received minor orders and served in the ancient church of St Mary. He became so well known for his devotion to learning that he is said to have been summoned by his uncle Athelm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to enter his service. He was later appointed to the court of King Athelstan.
  • Dunstan soon became a favourite of the king and was the envy of other members of the court. A plot was hatched to disgrace him and Dunstan was accused of being involved with witchcraft and black magic. The king ordered him to leave the court and as Dunstan was leaving the palace his enemies physically attacked him, beat him severely, bound him, and threw him into a cesspool. He managed to crawl out and make his way to the house of a friend. From there, he journeyed to Winchester and entered the service of his uncle, AElfheah, Bishop of Winchester.
  • The bishop tried to persuade him to become a monk, but Dunstan was doubtful whether he had a vocation to a celibate life. The answer came in the form of an attack of swelling tumours all over Dunstan's body. This ailment was so severe that it was thought to be leprosy. It was more probably some form of blood poisoning caused by being beaten and thrown in the cesspool. Whatever the cause, it changed Dunstan's mind. He took Holy Orders in 943, in the presence of �lfheah, and returned to live the life of a hermit at Glastonbury. Against the old church of St Mary he built a small cell five feet long and two and a half feet deep. It was there that Dunstan studied, worked at his handicrafts, and played on his harp. It is at this time, according to a late 11th Century legend, that the Devil is said to have tempted him, but St. Dunstan seized Satan's face with his smith's tongs.
  • Dunstan worked as a silversmith and in the scriptorium while he was living at Glastonbury. It is thought likely that he was the artist who drew the well-known image of Christ with a small kneeling monk beside him in the Glastonbury Classbook, one of the first of a series of outline drawings which were to become a special feature of Anglo-Saxon art of this period. Dunstan became famous as a musician, illuminator, and metalworker. Lady Aethelflaed, King Aethelstan's niece, made Dunstan a trusted adviser and on her death she left a considerable fortune to him. He used this money later in life to foster and encourage a monastic revival in England. About the same time, his father Heorstan died and Dunstan inherited his fortune, becoming a person of great influence. On the death of King Aethelstan in 940, the new King, Edmund, summoned Dunstan to his court at Cheddar and made him a minister.
  • Again, royal favour fostered jealousy among other courtiers and again Dunstan's enemies succeeded in their plots. The king was prepared to send Dunstan away. There were then at Cheddar certain envoys from the Eastern Kingdom, which probably meant East Anglia. Dunstan implored the envoys to take him with them when they returned to their homes. They agreed to do so, but it never happened. The story is recorded:
  • ... the king rode out to hunt the stag in Mendip Forest. He became separated from his attendants and followed a stag at great speed in the direction of the Cheddar cliffs. The stag rushed blindly over the precipice and was followed by the hounds. Eadmund endeavoured vainly to stop his horse; then, seeing death to be imminent, he remembered his harsh treatment of St Dunstan and promised to make amends if his life was spared. At that moment, his horse was stopped on the very edge of the cliff. Giving thanks to God, he returned forthwith to his palace, called for St. Dunstan and bade him follow, then rode straight to Glastonbury. Entering the church, the king first knelt in prayer before the altar, then, taking St. Dunstan by the hand, he gave him the kiss of peace, led him to the abbot's throne and, seating him thereon, promised him all assistance in restoring Divine worship and regular observance.
  • Dunstan, now Abbot of Glastonbury, went to work at once on the task of reform. He had to re-create monastic life and to rebuild the abbey. He began by establishing Benedictine monasticism at Glastonbury. That the Rule of St. Benedict was the basis of his restoration is not only definitely stated by his first biographer, who knew Dunstan well, but it is also in accordance with the nature of his first measures as abbot, with the significance of his first buildings, and with the Benedictine leanings of his most prominent disciples.
  • Dunstan's first care was to rebuild the Church of St. Peter, rebuild the cloister, and re-establish the monastic enclosure. The secular affairs of the house were committed to his brother, Wulfric, so that neither himself nor any of the professed monks might break enclosure. A school for the local youth was founded and soon became the most famous of its time in England. A substantial extension of the irrigation system on the surrounding Somerset Levels was also completed.
  • Within two years of Dunstan's appointment, in 946, King Edmund was assassinated, and was succeeded by Eadred. The policy of the new government was supported by the Queen Mother, Eadgifu of Kent, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Oda, and by the East Anglian nobles, at whose head was the powerful ealdorman AEthelstan the Half-King. It was a policy of unification and conciliation with the Danish half of the kingdom. The goal was a firm establishment of royal authority. In ecclesiastical matters, it favoured the spread of Catholic observance, the rebuilding of churches, the moral reform of the clergy and laity, and the end of the religion of the Danes in England. Against all these reforms were the nobles of Wessex, who included most of Dunstan's own relatives, and who had an interest in maintaining established customs. For nine years Dunstan's influence was dominant, during which time he twice refused the office of bishop (that of Winchester in 951 and Crediton in 953), affirming that he would not leave the king's side so long as the king lived and needed him.
  • In 955, Eadred died, and the situation was at once changed. Eadwig, the elder son of Edmund, who then came to the throne, was a headstrong youth wholly devoted to the reactionary nobles. According to one legend, the feud with Dunstan began on the day of Eadwig's coronation, when he failed to attend a meeting of nobles. When Dunstan eventually found the young monarch, he was cavorting with a noblewoman named Aelfgifu and her mother, and refused to return with the bishop. Infuriated by this, Dunstan dragged Eadwig back and forced him to renounce the girl as a strumpet. Later realizing that he had provoked the king, Dunstan fled to the apparent sanctuary of his cloister, but Eadwig, incited by AElfgifu, whom he married, followed him and plundered the monastery.
  • Although St Dunstan managed to escape, he saw that his life was in danger. He fled England and crossed the channel to Flanders, where he found himself ignorant of the language and of the customs of the locals. The count of Flanders, Arnulf I, received him with honour and lodged him in the Abbey of Mont Blandin, near Ghent. This was one of the centres of the Benedictine revival in that country, and Dunstan was able for the first time to observe the strict observance that had seen its rebirth at Cluny at the beginning of the century. His exile was not of long duration. Before the end of 957, the Mercians and Northumbrians revolted and drove out Eadwig, choosing his brother Edgar as king of the country north of the Thames. The south remained faithful to Eadwig. At once Edgar's advisers recalled Dunstan. On his return, the archbishop consecrated Dunstan a bishop and, on the death of Coenwald of Worcester at the end of 957, Oda appointed Dunstan to that see.
  • In the following year, the See of London became vacant and was conferred on Dunstan, who held it in conjunction with Worcester. In October 959, Eadwig died and his brother Edgar was readily accepted as ruler of Wessex. One of Eadwig's final acts had been to appoint a successor to Archbishop Oda, who died on 2 June 958. First, he appointed AElfsige of Winchester, but he perished of cold in the Alps as he journeyed to Rome for the pallium. In his place Eadwig nominated Byrhthelm, the Bishop of Wells. As soon as Edgar became king, he reversed this act on the ground that Brithelm had not been able to govern even his former diocese properly. The archbishopric was then conferred on Dunstan.
  • Dunstan went to Rome in 960, and received the pallium from Pope John XII. On his journey there, St Dunstan's charities were so lavish as to leave nothing for himself and his attendants. His steward complained, but Dunstan seems to have suggested that they trust in Jesus Christ.
  • On his return from Rome, Dunstan at once regained his position as virtual prime minister of the kingdom. By his advice, AElfstan was appointed to the Bishopric of London, with Oswald to that of Worcester. In 963, AEthelwold, the Abbot of Abingdon, was appointed to the See of Winchester. With their aid and with the ready support of King Edgar, Dunstan pushed forward his reforms in the English Church. The monks in his communities were taught to live in a spirit of self-sacrifice, and Dunstan actively enforced the law of celibacy whenever possible. He forbade the practices of simony (selling ecclesiastical offices for money) and ended the custom of clerics appointing relatives to offices under their jurisdiction. Monasteries were built, and in some of the great cathedrals, monks took the place of the secular canons; in the rest, the canons were obliged to live according to rule. The parish priests were compelled to be qualified for their office; they were urged to teach parishioners not only the truths of the Christian faith, but also trades to improve their position. The state saw reforms as well. Good order was maintained throughout the realm and there was respect for the law. Trained bands policed the north, and a navy guarded the shores from Viking raids. There was a level of peace in the kingdom unknown in living memory.
  • In 973, Dunstan's statesmanship reached its zenith when he officiated at the coronation of King Edgar. Edgar was crowned at Bath in an imperial ceremony planned not as the initiation, but as the culmination of his reign (a move that must have taken a great deal of preliminary diplomacy). This service devised by St Dunstan himself and celebrated with a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle forms the basis of the present-day British coronation ceremony. There was a second symbolic coronation held later. This was an important step, as other kings of Britain came and gave their allegiance to Edgar at Chester. Six kings in Britain, including the kings of Scotland and of Strathclyde, pledged their faith that they would be the king's liege-men on sea and land.
  • Edgar died two years after his coronation, and was succeeded by his eldest son Edward (II) 'the Martyr'. His accession was disputed by his stepmother, AElfthryth , who wished her own son AEthelred to reign. Through the influence of Dunstan, Eadward was chosen and crowned at Winchester.
  • Edgar's death had encouraged the reactionary nobles, and at once, there was a determined attack upon the monks, the protagonists of reform. Throughout Mercia, they were persecuted and deprived of their possessions. Their cause, however, was supported by AEthelwine, the ealdorman of East Anglia, and the realm was in serious danger of civil war. Three meetings of the Witan were held to settle these disputes, at Kyrtlington, at Calne, and at Amesbury. At the second of them, the floor of the hall where the Witan was sitting gave way, and all except Dunstan, who clung to a beam, fell into the room below, several men were killed.
  • In March 978, King Eadweard was assassinated at Corfe Castle, possibly at the instigation of his stepmother, and AEthelred the Unready became king. His coronation on Low Sunday 31 March 978 was the last state event in which Dunstan took part. When the young king took the usual oath to govern well, Dunstan addressed him in solemn warning. He criticised the violent act whereby he became king and prophesied the misfortunes that were shortly to fall on the kingdom, but St Dunstan's influence at court was ended. Dunstan retired to Canterbury, to teach at the cathedral school.
  • In 980, Dunstan joined AElfhere of Mercia in the solemn translation of the relics of King Eadward II, soon to be known as St Edward the Martyr, from their grave at Wareham to a shrine at Shaftesbury Abbey. In 984, in obedience to a vision of St Andrew, he persuaded King AEthelred to appoint AElfheah as Bishop of Winchester in succession to AEthelwold. In 986, Dunstan induced the king, by a donation of 100 pounds of silver, to stop his persecution of the See of Rochester.
  • Dunstan's retirement at Canterbury consisted of long hours, both day and night, spent in private prayer, as well as his regular attendance at Mass and the daily office. He visited the shrines of St Augustine and St Aethelberht, and there are reports of a vision of angels who sang to him heavenly canticles. He worked to improve the spiritual and temporal well-being of his people, to build and restore churches, to establish schools, to judge suits, to defend widows and orphans, to promote peace, and to enforce respect for purity. He practised his crafts, made bells and organs and corrected the books in the cathedral library. He encouraged and protected European scholars who came to England, and was active as a teacher of boys in the cathedral school. On the vigil of Ascension Day 988, it is recorded that a vision of angels warned he would die in three days. On the feast day itself, Dunstan said Mass and preached three times to the people: at the Gospel, at the benediction, and after the Agnus Dei. In this last address, he announced his impending death and wished his congregation well. That afternoon he chose the spot for his tomb, and then went to his bed. His strength failed rapidly, and on Saturday morning, 19 May, he caused the clergy to assemble. Mass was celebrated in his presence, then he received Extreme Unction and the Viaticum, and died. St Dunstan's final words are reported to have been, 'He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: He hath given food to them that fear Him'.
  • The English people accepted him as a saint shortly thereafter. He was formally canonised in 1029. That year at the Synod of Winchester, St Dunstan's feast was ordered to be kept solemnly throughout England.
  • Until Thomas Becket's fame overshadowed St Dunstan's, he was the English people's favourite saint. Dunstan had been buried in his cathedral; and when that building was destroyed by a fire in 1074, his relics were transferred by Archbishop Lanfranc to a tomb on the south side of the high altar in the rebuilt Canterbury Cathedral.
  • The monks of Glastonbury used to claim that during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, Dunstan's body had been carried for safety to their abbey. This story was disproved by Archbishop William Warham, who opened the tomb at Canterbury in 1508. They found St Dunstan's relics still to be there.
  • Within a century, his shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation. He functions as the patron saint of goldsmiths and silversmiths, as he worked as a blacksmith, painter, and jeweller. His Feast Day is 19 May, which is why the date year on hallmarks runs from 19 May to 18 May, not the calendar year.
  • St Dunstan's - the charity that provides support, rehabilitation, and respite care to blind ex-service personnel of the British Armed Forces - is named after him, as are many churches all over the world. St Dunstan's, Mayfield, St Dunstan's, Stepney, St Dunstan-in-the-East, London, and St Dunstan-in-the-West, London are four of the more well-known in England.
  • English literature contains many references to him, for example in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and in this folk rhyme:
  • St Dunstan, as the story goes, Once pull'd the devil by the nose With red-hot tongs, which made him roar, That he was heard three miles or more.
  • From this, the tongs have become a symbol of St Dunstan and are featured in the arms of Tower Hamlets.
  • Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil's horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.
St Alphege
  • Reportedly born in Weston on the outskirts of Bath, Alphege became a monk early in life. He first entered the monastery of Deerhurst, but then moved to Bath, where he became an anchorite. He was noted for his piety and austerity, and rose to become abbot of Bath Abbey. Probably due to the influence of Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury (959-988), Alphege was elected Bishop of Winchester in 984, and consecrated on 19 October that year. While bishop he was mainly responsible for the construction of a large organ in the cathedral, audible from over a mile away and said to require more than 24 men to operate. He also built and enlarged the city's churches, and promoted the cult of Saint Swithun and Swithun's predecessor, AEthelwold of Winchester.
  • Following a Viking raid in 994, a peace treaty was agreed with one of the raiders, Olaf Tryggvason. Besides receiving danegeld, Olaf converted to Christianity and undertook never to raid or fight the English again. Alphege may have played a part in the treaty negotiations, and it is certain that he confirmed Olaf in his new faith.
  • In 1006, Alphege succeeded AElfric as Archbishop of Canterbury, taking Saint Swithun's head with him as a relic for the new location. He went to Rome in 1007 to receive his pallium - symbol of his status as an archbishop - from Pope John XVIII, but was robbed during his journey.
  • While at Canterbury he promoted the cult of Saint Dunstan, ordering the writing of the second Life of Dunstan, which Adelard composed between 1006 and 1011. He also introduced new practices into the liturgy, and was instrumental in the Witenagemot's recognition of Wulfsige of Sherborne as a saint in about 1012.
  • Alphege sent AElfric to Cerne Abbey where he took charge of its monastic school. He was present at the council of May 1008 at which Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York, preached his Sermo Lupi ad Anglos (The Sermon of the Wolf to the English), castigating the English for their moral failings and blaming the latter for the tribulations afflicting the country.
  • In 1011, the Danes again raided England, and from 8-29 September, they laid siege to Canterbury. Aided by the treachery of AElfmaer, whose life Alphege had once saved, the raiders succeeded in sacking the city. Alphege was taken prisoner and held captive for seven months. Godwine (Bishop of Rochester), Leofrun (abbess of St Mildrith's), and the king's reeve, AElfweard were captured also, but the abbot of St Augustine's Abbey
  • Alphege refused to allow a ransom to be paid for his freedom, and as a result was killed on 19 April 1012 at Greenwich (then in Kent, now London), reputedly on the site of St Alfege's Church. The account of Alphege's death appears in the E version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:
  • '... the raiding-army became much stirred up against the bishop, because he did not want to offer them any money, and forbade that anything might be granted in return for him. In addition, they were very drunk, because there was wine brought from the south. Then they seized the bishop, led him to their 'hustings' on the Saturday in the octave of Easter, and then pelted him there with bones and the heads of cattle; and one of them struck him on the head with the butt of an axe, so that with the blow he sank down and his holy blood fell on the earth, and sent forth his holy soul to God's kingdom.'
  • Alphege was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. A contemporary report tells that Thorkell the Tall attempted to save him from the mob about to kill him by offering them everything he owned except for his ship, in exchange for Alphege's life; Thorkell's presence is not mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, however. Some sources record that the final blow, with the back of an axe, was delivered as an act of kindness by a Christian convert known as Thrum.
  • Alphege was buried in St Paul's Cathedral. In 1023, his body was moved by King Cnut to Canterbury, with great ceremony. Thorkell the Tall was appalled at the brutality of his fellow raiders, and switched sides to the English king AEthelred the unready following the Archbishops death.
  • Pope Gregory VII canonized Alphege in 1078, with a feast day of 19 April. Lanfranc, the first post-conquest archbishop, was dubious about some of the saints venerated at Canterbury. He was persuaded of Alphege's sanctity, but Alphege and Augustine of Canterbury were the only pre-conquest Anglo-Saxon archbishops kept on Canterbury's calendar of saints. Alphege's shrine, which had become neglected, was rebuilt and expanded in the early 12th Century under Anselm of Canterbury, who was instrumental in retaining Alphege's name in the church calendar. After the 1174 fire in Canterbury Cathedral, Alphege's remains together with those of Saint Dunstan were placed around the high altar, at which Thomas Becket is said to have commended his life into Alphege's care shortly before his martyrdom during the Becket controversy. The new shrine was sealed in lead, and was north of the high altar, sharing the honour with Dunstan's shrine, which was located south of the high altar. A Life of Saint Alphege in prose and verse was written by a Canterbury monk named Osbern, at Lanfranc's request. The prose version has survived, but the Life is very much a hagiography: many of the stories it contains have obvious Biblical parallels, making them suspect as a historical record.
  • In the late medieval period, Alphege's feast day was celebrated in Scandinavia, perhaps because of the saint's connection with Cnut. In 1929, a new church in Bath was dedicated to Saint Alphege, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in homage to the ancient Roman church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
St Anslem
  • Anselm was born under the name 'Anselmus Candiae Genavae' (Italian: Anselmo de Candia Ginevra, French: Anselme de Candie Geneve) at or near Aosta in the Kingdom of Burgundy (currently the capital of the Aosta Valley region in Northern Italy) around 1033. His family was noble (they were related by blood to the ascendant House of Savoy) and owned considerable property. His parents were from a noble lineage and holders of fiefdoms within the Burgundian territories. His father, Gundulf de Candia, was by birth a Lombard of the House of Candia; he seems to have been harsh and violent. His mother, Ermenberga of Geneva was regarded as prudent and virtuous; she was related to Otto, Count of Savoy.
  • At the age of fifteen, Anselm desired to enter a monastery but could not obtain his father's consent, and so the abbot refused him. Disappointment brought on apparent psychosomatic illness. After recovery, he gave up his studies and lived a carefree life. During this period, his mother died and his father's harshness became unbearable.
  • When he was twenty-three, Anselm left home, crossed the Alps and wandered through Burgundy and France. Attracted by the fame of his countryman Lanfranc (then prior of the Benedictine Abbey of Bec), Anselm arrived in Normandy in 1059. The following year, after some time at Avranches, he entered the abbey as a novice at the age of twenty-seven; in doing so, he submitted himself to the Rule of Saint Benedict, which was to reshape his thought over the next decade.
  • In 1063, Lanfranc was made abbot of Caen and Anselm was elected prior of the abbey of Bec. Anselm held this office for fifteen years before he became abbot at the death of Herluin, the abbey's founder, in 1078. He was consecrated abbot 22 February 1079 by the bishop of Evreux. This consecration was rushed, because at the time the archdiocese of Rouen (wherein Bec lay) was sede vacante. Had Anselm been consecrated by the archbishop of Rouen, he would have been under pressure to profess obedience to him, which would compromise Bec's independence.
  • Under Anselm's jurisdiction, Bec became the foremost seat of learning in Europe, attracting students from Italy and elsewhere, even though study and scholarly research were of secondary importance in the monasticism of the time. It was during his time at Bec that he wrote his first works of philosophy, the Monologion (1076) and the Proslogion (1077-8). These were followed by The Dialogues on Truth, Free Will and Fall of the Devil. During his time at Bec, St Anselm worked to maintain its freedom from lay and archiepiscopal control. Later in his abbay Anselm worked to ensure Bec's independence from Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester and from the archbishop of Rouen.
  • St Anselm occasionally visited England to see the abbey's property there, as well as to visit Lanfranc - who, in 1070, had been installed as Archbishop of Canterbury--until the latter's death in 1089. He made a good impression while there, and was the natural successor to Lanfranc as Archbishop.
  • Upon Lanfranc's death, however, William II of England seized the possessions and revenues of the see, and made no new appointment. In 1092, at the invitation of Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester, St Anselm crossed to England. He was detained there by business for nearly four months and then refused permission to return to Bec by the king, who suddenly fell ill the following year, and nominated Anselm to the vacant see, on 6 March 1093. That month Anselm wrote to the monks of Bec, telling them to accept his nomination to the see. Over the course of the following months, Anselm tried to refuse, on the grounds of age and ill-health, and being unfit as a monk for secular affairs. On 24 August, Anselm gave William the conditions under which he would accept the see, which amounted to an agenda of the Gregorian Reform: that William return the see's land which he had seized; that William accept the pre-eminence of Anselm's spiritual counsel; and that William acknowledge Pope Urban II as pope (in opposition to Antipope Clement III). Anselm's professions of refusal aided his bargaining position as he discussed terms with William. William was exceedingly reluctant to accept these conditions; he would only grant the first. A few days after this, William tried to rescind even this; he suspended the preparations for Anselm's investiture. Under public pressure, William was forced to carry out the appointment. In the end, Anselm and William settled on the return of Canterbury's lands as the only concession from William. Finally, the English bishops thrust the crosier into his hands and took him to the church to be inducted. He did homage to William, and on 25 September 1093 received the lands of the see, and was enthroned, after obtaining dispensation from his duties in Normandy. He was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury on 4 December.
  • It has been argued whether or not Anselm's reluctance to take the see was sincere. Scholars such as Southern maintain that his preference would have been to stay at Bec. However, reluctance to accept important ecclesiastical positions was a medieval trope. Vaughn states that Anselm could not have expressed a desire for the position, because he would be regarded as an ambitious careerist. She further states that Anselm recognised William's political situation and goals, and acted at the moment that would gain him the most advantage in the interests of his expected see, and of the reform movement.
  • One of Anselm's first conflicts with William came the very month he was consecrated. William was preparing to fight his elder brother, Robert II, Duke of Normandy, and needed funds for doing so. Anselm was among those expected to pay him, and he offered £500; rather less than anticipated. William refused the offer, insisting on a greater sum. Later on, a group of bishops suggested that William might now settle for the original sum, but Anselm told them he had already given the money to the poor. In this episode, Anselm was careful, and managed to both avoid charges of simony, and appear generous.
  • Anselm continued to agitate William for reform and the interests of Canterbury. His vision of the Church was one of a universal Church with its own internal authority, which countered with William's vision of royal control over both Church and state. Consequently, He has been viewed alternatively as a contemplative monastic or as a man politically engaged, committed to maintaining the privileges of the episcopal see of Canterbury.
  • The Church's rule stated that metropolitans could not be consecrated without receiving the pallium from the hands of the pope. Anselm, accordingly, insisted that he must proceed to Rome to receive the pallium, but William would not permit it; he had not acknowledged Urban as pope and maintained his right to prevent a pope's acknowledgment by an English subject.
  • On 25 February 1095, the bishops and nobles of England held a council at Rockingham to discuss the issue. The bishops sided with the king, with the bishop of Durham even advising William to depose Anselm. The nobles chose Anselm's position, and the conference ended in deadlock.
  • Immediately following this William sent secret messengers to Rome. They prevailed on Urban to send a legate (Walter of Albano) to the king bearing the archiepiscopal pallium. Walter and William then negotiated in secret. William agreed to acknowledge Urban as pope, and secured the right to give permission before clerics could receive and obey papal letters; Walter, negotiating for Urban, conceded that Urban would send no legates without William's invitation. William's greatest desire was that Anselm be deposed and another given the pallium. Walter said 'there was good reason to expect a successful issue in accordance with the king's wishes'. William then openly acknowledged Urban as pope, but Walter refused to depose Anselm. William then tried to extract money from Anselm for the pallium, and was refused. William also tried to hand over the pallium personally to Anselm, and was refused again. He compromised, and Anselm took the pallium from the altar at Canterbury on 10 June 1095.
  • Over the next two years, no overt dispute between Anselm and William is known. However, William blocked Anselm's efforts at church reform. The issues came to a head in 1097, after William put down a Welsh rebellion. He charged Anselm with having given him insufficient knights for the campaign and tried to fine him. Anselm resolved to proceed to Rome and seek the counsel of the pope because William had refused to fulfil his promise of Church reform, but William denied him permission. The negotiations ended with William declaring that if Anselm left, he would take back the see, and never again receive Anselm as archbishop. If Anselm were to stay, William would fine him and force him to swear never again to appeal to Rome: Anselm was given the choice of exile or total submission.
  • As an exile, in October 1097 Anselm set out for Rome. William immediately seized the revenues of the see and retained them until his death, though Anselm retained the archbishopric. Anselm went into exile to defend his vision of the universal Church, displaying William's sins against that vision. Though he had done homage to William, Anselm qualified that homage by his higher duty towards God and the papacy. Anselm was received with high honour by Urban at the Siege of Capua, where he garnered high praise from the Saracen troops of Roger I of Sicily. The pope, however, did not wish to become deeply involved in Anselm's dispute with the king.
  • At a large provincial council held at Bari in 1098, in which 183 bishops attended, Anselm was asked to defend, against representatives of the Greek Church, the Filioque and the practice of using unleavened bread for the Eucharist.
  • In 1099, Urban renewed the ban on lay investiture and on clerics doing homage. That year Anselm moved to Lyon.
  • William was killed on 2 August 1100. His successor, Henry I of England, invited Anselm to return, writing that he committed himself to be counselled by Anselm. Henry was courting Anselm because he needed his support for the security of his claim to the throne; Anselm could have thrown his support behind Henry's elder brother instead.
  • When Anselm returned, Henry requested that Anselm do him homage for the Canterbury estates, and receive from him investiture in his office of archbishop. The papacy had recently banned clerics doing homage to laymen, as well as banning lay investiture; thus started Anselm's conflicts with Henry.
  • Henry refused to relinquish the privilege possessed by his predecessors, and proposed that the matter be laid before the pope. Two embassies were sent to Pope Paschal II regarding the legitimacy of Henry's investiture, but Paschal reaffirmed the papal rule on both occasions. In the meantime, Anselm did work with Henry. Henry was threatened with invasion by his brother, and Anselm publicly supported Henry, wooing the wavering barons and threatening Curthose with excommunication. For his part, Henry granted Anselm authority over all the Church in England, and agreed to obey the papacy.
  • Because Paschal had reaffirmed the papal rules on lay investiture and homage, Henry turned against Anselm. In 1103, Anselm himself and an envoy from the king (William Warelwast) set out for Rome, Anselm in exile. In response, Paschal excommunicated the bishops whom Henry had invested.
  • Exiled from England, Anselm withdrew to Lyon after this ruling and awaited further action from Paschal. On 26 March 1105 Paschal excommunicated Henry's chief advisor (Robert of Meulan) for urging Henry to continue lay investiture, as well as prelates invested by Henry and other counsellors, and threatened Henry with the same. In April Anselm threatened to excommunicate Henry himself, probably to force Henry's hand in their negotiations. In response, Henry arranged a meeting with Anselm, and they managed a compromise at Laigle on 22 July 1105. Part of the agreement was that Robert's (and his associates') excommunication be lifted (given that they counsel the king to obey the papacy); Anselm lifted the excommunications on his own authority, an act which he later had to justify to Paschal. Other conditions of the agreement were that Henry would forsake lay investiture if Anselm obtained Paschal's permission for clerics to do homage for their nobles; that the revenues of his see be given back to Anselm; and that priests not be allowed to marry. Anselm then insisted on having the Laigle agreement sanctioned by Paschal before he would consent to return to England. By letter, Anselm also asked that the pope accept his compromise on doing homage to the king, because he had secured a greater victory in Henry's forsaking lay investiture. On 23 March 1106 Paschal wrote Anselm accepting the compromise, though both saw this as a temporary compromise, and intended to later continue pushing for the Gregorian reform, including the custom of homage.
  • Even after this, Anselm still refused to return to England. Henry travelled to Bec and met with him on 15 August 1106. Henry made further concession, restoring to Anselm all the churches that had been seized by William; he promised that nothing more would be taken from the churches; prelates who had paid his controversial tax (which had started as a tax on married clergy) would be exempt from taxes for three years; and he promised to restore all that had been taken from Canterbury during Anselm's exile, even giving Anselm security for this promise. These compromises on Henry's part strengthened the rights of the Church against the king. Anselm returned to England following this.
  • By 1107, the long dispute regarding investiture was finally settled. The Concordat of London announced the compromises that Anselm and Henry had made at Bec. The final two years of Anselm's life were spent in the duties of his archbishopric. As archbishop, Anselm maintained his monastic ideals, which included stewardship, prudence, and fitting instruction to his flock, as well as prayer and contemplation. During his service as archbishop, Anselm maintained a habit of pressing on his monarchs at expedient times (when they needed his help, and when he would have public support) to advance his Church reforms. Anselm died on Holy Wednesday, 21 April 1109.
  • Vaughn judges Anselm's motivation in the lay investiture conflict as advancing the interests of the see of Canterbury, rather than those of the Church at large. Other historians had seen Anselm as aligned with the papacy against the English monarchs, but Vaughn asserts that he acted on his own, as a third pole in the controversy, his aim being to promote the primacy of the archdiocese of Canterbury. His view of Canterbury's primacy is demonstrated in his charter of c. 3 September 1101, in which he called himself Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of Great Britain and Ireland and vicar of the High Pontiff Paschal. By the end of his life, he had secured the primatial status of Canterbury in relation to the papacy, and he had freed Canterbury from submission to the English king. In addition to securing the archbishop of Canterbury's role as primate of the English bishops, Anselm also initiated Canterbury's permanent control over the Welsh bishops, and gained strong authority over the Irish bishops during his lifetime.
  • He continued to work for the primacy of Canterbury, managing to force Paschal into sending the pallium for the archbishop of York to himself, so that the archbishop-elect would have to profess obedience to Canterbury before receiving it. From his deathbed, he anathematised all who failed to recognise Canterbury's primacy over York, as Thomas II of York was doing. This anathema forced Henry to order Thomas to confess obedience to Canterbury. During Henry's reign, St Anselm tried to advance another part of the Gregorian reform (which Henry actually supported): clerical celibacy. At Michaelmas of 1102, Anselm held a council in London in which he prohibited marriage and concubinage to those in holy orders (as well as condemning simony and reforming regulations on clerical dress and sobriety). In the previous two centuries, attempts at enforcing clerical celibacy had been made, but with little success. Anselm's council was disobeyed en masse as well. In 1106 Henry levied a tax on married clergy, ostensibly to enforce the council's canons, but really in an effort to raise money for his war in Normandy. Another council was held in 1108, which focused on enforcing the canons of the 1102 council by creating incentives for the archdeacons who in practice were in charge of enforcing such rules.
  • Anselm is the first scholastic philosopher of Christian theology. His great predecessor, Johannes Scotus Eriugena, was more speculative and mystical in his writings. Anselm's writings represent recognition of the relationship of reason to revealed truth, and an attempt to elaborate a rational system of faith.
  • Anselm sought to understand Christian doctrine through reason and develop intelligible truths interwoven with the Christian belief. He believed that the necessary preliminary for this was possession of the Christian faith. He wrote, 'Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that, unless I first believe, I shall not understand'. He held that faith precedes reason, but that reason can expand upon faith.
  • The groundwork of Anselm's theory of knowledge is contained in the tract De Veritate, where he affirms the existence of an absolute truth in which all other truth participates. This absolute truth, he argues, is God, who is the ultimate ground or principle both of things and of thought. The notion of God becomes the foreground of Anselm's theory, so it is necessary first to make God clear to reason and be demonstrated to have real existence.
  • Anselm's world-view was broadly that of Neo-Platonism, which he inherited from his primary influence, Augustine of Hippo, as well as from Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and possibly Scotus. He also inherited a rationalist way of thinking from Aristotle and Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius.
  • Anselm wrote many proofs within Mon logion and Pros logion. In the first proof, Anselm relies on the ordinary grounds of realism, which coincide to some extent with the theory of Augustine. He argues that things are called good in a variety of ways and degrees, which would be impossible were there not some absolute standard and some good in itself, in which all relative goods participate. The same applies to adjectives like great and just, whereby things involve a certain greatness and justice. Anselm uses this thought process to state that the very existence of things is impossible without some one Being, by whom they come to exist. This absolute Being, this goodness, justice and greatness, is God. Anselm is not thoroughly satisfied with this reasoning, however, because it begins from a posteriori grounds, meaning that the reasoning is inductive. The philosophy also contains several converging lines of proof.
  • In his Pros logion, Anselm put forward a proof of the existence of God called the ontological argument; although this type of proof had been produced by Avicenna some time before. The term itself was first applied by Kant to the arguments of 17th and 18th Century rationalists. Anselm defined his belief in the existence of God using the phrase 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'. He reasoned that, if 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' existed only in the intellect, it would not be 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived', since it can be thought to exist in reality, which is greater. It follows, according to Anselm that 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' must exist in reality. The bulk of the Pros logion is taken up with Anselm's attempt to establish the identity of 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' as God, and thus to establish that God exists in reality. Anselm's ontological proof has been the subject of controversy since it was first published in the 1070s. It was opposed at the time by the monk Gaunilo, in his Liber pro Insipient, on the grounds that humans cannot pass from intellect to reality. Anselm replied to the objections in his Response.
  • Gaunilo's criticism is repeated by several later philosophers, among who are Thomas Aquinas and Kant. Anselm wrote a number of other arguments for the existence of God, based on cosmological and teleological grounds.
  • In Anselm's other works, he strove to state the rational grounds of the Christian doctrines of creation and the Trinity. He discussed the Trinity first by stating that human beings could not know God from Himself but only from analogy. The analogy that he used was the self-consciousness of man. The peculiar double-nature of consciousness; memory and intelligence represent the relation of the Father to the Son. The mutual love of these two (memory and intelligence), proceeding from the relation they hold to one another, symbolises the Holy Spirit. The further theological doctrines of man, such as original sin and free will, are developed in the Mon logion and other treatises.
  • The Satisfaction (or Commercial) theory of the atonement was formulated by Anselm of Canterbury in his book, Cur Deus Homo (lit. Why the God Man). He has introduced the idea of satisfaction as the chief demand of the nature of God, of punishment as a possible alternative of satisfaction and equally fulfilling the requirements of justice thus opening the way to the assertion of punishment as the true satisfaction of the law. In his view, God's offended honour and dignity could only be satisfied by the sacrifice of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Anselm undertook to explain the rational necessity of the Christian mystery of the atonement. His philosophy rests on three positions-first, that satisfaction is necessary on account of God's honour and justice; second, that such satisfaction can be given only by the peculiar personality of the God-man Jesus; and, third, that such satisfaction is really given by this God-man's voluntary death.
  • According to this view, sin incurs a debt to Divine justice, a debt that must be paid somehow. Thus, no sin, according to Anselm, can be forgiven without satisfaction. However, the incurred debt is something far greater than a human being is capable of paying. All the service that a person can offer to God is already obligated on other debts to God. By Anselm's time the suggestion has been made that some innocent person, or angel, might possibly pay the debt incurred by sinners. That, however, would put the sinner under obligation to that deliverer and the sinner would become indebted to a 'mere creature'.
  • The only way in which the satisfaction could be made so that humans could be set free from their sin, was by the coming of a Redeemer who is both God and man. He himself would have to be sinless, thus having no debt that he owed. His death is something greater than all the sins of all humanity. His death makes a superabundant satisfaction to the Divine Justice. Anselm's theory persisted for eight centuries.
  • Anselm's formulation differs markedly from Reformation views. For Anselm, Christ obeyed where we should have obeyed; for John Calvin, he was punished where we should have been punished. While Anselm's interpretation permitted man to offer Christ to God, the Protestant Faith insists that it is God, not man, who reconciles fallen humanity by sacrificing His son.
  • Critics of Anselm assert that he puts the whole conflict on merely a legal footing, giving it no ethical bearing, and neglects altogether the consciousness of the individual to be redeemed. In this respect, it contrasts with the later theory of Peter Abelard. By way of criticism, theologian George Foley writes that the traditional statement of St Anselm's doctrine has undoubtedly inspired the development of much devout and consecrated life. However, its religious power has come from the fact that it is an emotional witness to the fundamental reality of incarnate love and sacrifice. Foley says it does not represent the faith of either the universal Church or the continuous and unvarying formula of Christian thinkers.
  • Foley claims that the fact that the doctrine is not a positive theory has brought grievous harm down through the centuries. It likely influenced the church fathers to think more of being dwelling of God and humanity than of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ on behalf of humanity. The satisfaction theory of the Reformation, however, owed its existence to Anselm. It was made the test of orthodoxy and continued to be so until near the end of the 19th Century. He also criticises the fact that those tests of orthodoxy required one to subscribe to a rationalistic and metaphysical formula, in the place of the Scriptural doctrine from which it had been derived. Foley finds it no accident that the Scriptures avoid any explanation of the process of redemption. He says that Anselm's adoption of a purely objective interpretation of Christ's work, and his assumption of and ability to penetrate into the esoteric relations of the Trinity, made him primarily responsible for the intrusive prying into Divine mysteries, and for the confident familiarity with the unrevealed portions of truth that issued in the dogmatic tyranny so conspicuous in the Protestant churches.
  • Anselm denied the belief which is now referred to as the Immaculate Conception, though his thinking laid the groundwork for the doctrine's development in the West. In De virginali conceptu et de peccato originali, he gave two principles which became fundamental for thinking about the Immaculate Conception. The first is that it was proper that Mary should be so pure that no purer being could be imagined, aside from God.
  • The second innovation in Anselm's thinking which opened the way for the Immaculate Conception was his understanding of original sin. Anselm affirmed that original sin is simply human nature without original justice, and that it is transmitted because parents cannot give original justice if they do not have it themselves; original sin is the transmission of fallen human nature. In contrast, Anselm's contemporaries held that the transmission of original sin had to with the lustful nature of the act of sexual intercourse. Anselm was the first thinker to separate original sin from the lust of intercourse. This enabled later thinkers to see that God might keep Mary free from original sin, even though she was conceived through normal sexual intercourse.
  • It was reported that Anselm wrote many letters to monks, male relatives and others that contained passionate expressions of attachment and affection. These letters were typically addressed 'dilecto dilectori', sometimes translated as 'to the beloved lover'. While there is wide agreement that Anselm was personally committed to the monastic ideal of celibacy, some academics, including Brian P. McGuire and John Boswell have characterized these writings as expressions of a homosexual inclination. Others, such as Glenn Olsen and Richard Southern describe them as representing a 'wholly spiritual' affection, 'nourished by an incorporeal ideal'.
St Thomas Becket
  • Thomas Becket was born c. 1118 in Cheapside, London, to Gilbert Beket of Thierville and Matilda (with a familiar name of Roheise or Rosea) of Mondeville near Caen. Gilbert, a knight's son, had taken the trade of mercer but in London was a property-owner, living on his rents. They were buried in old St Pauls Cathedral.
  • A rich friend of Thomas father, Richer de L'Aigle, was attracted to Thomas's sisters. He often invited Thomas to his estates in Sussex. There, Thomas learned to ride a horse, hunt, behave like a gentleman and engage in popular sports, such as jousting. Beginning when he was 10, Becket received a brilliant education in civil and canon law at Merton Priory in England and then in Paris, Bologna and Auxerre. Richer was later a signatory at the Constitutions of Clarendon against Thomas.
  • Upon returning to the Kingdom of England he attracted the notice of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who entrusted him with several important missions to Rome and finally made him Archdeacon of Canterbury and Provost of Beverley. He so distinguished himself by his zeal and efficiency that Theobald recommended him to King Henry II when the important office of Lord Chancellor became vacant. Henry accordingly appointed Becket as Chancellor in 1155.
  • Henry desired to be absolute ruler of his dominions, both Church and State, and could find precedents in the traditions of the throne when he planned to do away with the special privileges of the English clergy, which he regarded as fetters on his authority. As Chancellor, Becket enforced the king's traditional medieval land tax that was exacted from all landowners, including churches and bishoprics. This created both a hardship and a resentment of Becket among the English Churchmen. To implicate Becket further as a secular man, he became an accomplished and extravagant courtier and a cheerful companion to the king's pleasures. Thomas was devoted to Henry's interests with such a firm and yet diplomatic thoroughness that scarcely anyone except perhaps John of Salisbury doubted his allegiance to English royalty.
  • King Henry even sent his son Henry to live in Becket's household, it being the custom then for noble children to be fostered out to other noble houses. The younger Henry was reported to have said Becket showed him more fatherly love in a day than his father did for his entire life. An emotional attachment to Becket as a foster-father may have been one of the reasons the younger Henry would turn against his father.
  • He achieved his final position of power as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several months after the death of Theobald. Henry intended to further his influence by directing the actions of Thomas, his loyal appointee, and diminish the independence and influence of the Church in England. The famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic occurred at this time.
  • A rift grew between Henry and Thomas as the new Archbishop dropped his Chancellorship and consolidated the landed revenues of Canterbury under his control. So began a series of legal conflicts, such as the jurisdiction of secular courts over English clergymen, which accelerated antipathy between the two great offices. Attempts by King Henry to foment the opinion and influence of the other bishops against Thomas began in Westminster in October 1163, where the King sought approval of stated royal privileges. This led to Clarendon, where Thomas was officially asked to sign off on the King's rights or face political repercussions.
  • King Henry II presided over the assemblies at Clarendon Palace on 30 January 1164. In sixteen constitutions, he sought less clerical independence and a weaker connection with Rome. He employed all his skills to induce their consent and was apparently successful with all but the Primate.
  • Finally, even Becket expressed his willingness to agree to the substance of the Constitutions of Clarendon, but he still refused to sign the documents. This meant war between the two powers. Henry summoned Becket to appear before a great council at Northampton Castle on 8 October 1164, to answer allegations of contempt of royal authority and malfeasance in the Lord Chancellor's office. Convicted on the charges, Becket stormed out of the trial and fled to the Continent.
  • Henry pursued the fugitive archbishop with a series of edicts, aimed at Becket and all his friends and supporters; but Louis VII of France received him with respect and offered him protection. He spent nearly two years in the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, until Henry's threats against the order obliged him to move to Sens again.
  • Becket sought to exercise the prerogatives of the Church, particularly the weapons of excommunication and interdict, but Pope Alexander III, though sympathising with him in theory, favoured a more diplomatic approach. Differences thus arose between Pope and Archbishop and legates were sent in 1167 with authority to act as arbitrators.
  • Becket's firmness seemed about to meet with its reward when, in 1170, the Pope was on the point of fulfilling his threats and excommunicating Henry II. At that point, Henry, alarmed by the prospect, held out hopes of an agreement that would allow Thomas to return to England and resume his place.
  • In June 1170, the archbishop of York and the bishops of London and Salisbury held the coronation of Henry the Young King in York. This was a breach of Canterbury's privilege of coronation. In November 1170, Becket excommunicated all three. While the three bishops fled to the king in Normandy, Becket continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church. Soon word of this reached Henry.
  • After these reports of Becket's activities, Henry is said to have raised his head from his sickbed and roared a lament of frustration. The King's exact words are in doubt and several versions have been reported. The most commonly quoted, as handed down by oral tradition, is 'Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?', but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us 'What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?' Many variations have found their way into popular culture. Whatever the King said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four knights, Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton, set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury. On 29 December 1170, they arrived at Canterbury. According to accounts left by the monk Gervase of Canterbury and eyewitness Edward Grim, they placed their weapons under a sycamore tree outside the cathedral and hid their mail armour under cloaks before entering to challenge Becket. The knights informed Becket he was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king's will that they retrieved their weapons and rushed back inside for the killing. Becket, meanwhile, proceeded to the main hall for vespers. The four knights, wielding drawn swords, caught up with him in a spot near a door to the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the stairs leading up into the quire of the cathedral, where the monks were chanting vespers.
  • Several contemporary accounts of what happened next exist; of particular note is that of Edward Grim, who was himself wounded in the attack. This is part of the account from Edward Grim: The burial of Becket
  • ...The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next, he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' Nevertheless, the third knight inflicted a terrible wound, as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.
  • Following his death, the monks prepared his body for burial. According to some accounts, it was discovered that Becket had worn a hairshirt under his archbishop's garments - a sign of penance. Soon after, the faithful throughout Europe began venerating Becket as a martyr, and in 1173 - barely three years after his death - he was canonised by Pope Alexander III in St. Peter's Church in Segni. On 12 July 1174, in the midst of the Revolt of 1173-1174, Henry humbled himself with public penance at Becket's tomb which became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England.
  • Becket's assassins fled north to Knaresborough Castle, which was held by Hugh de Morville, where they remained for about a year. De Morville held property in Cumbria and this may also have provided a convenient bolt-hole, as the men prepared for a longer stay in the separate kingdom of Scotland. They were not arrested and neither did Henry confiscate their lands, but he failed to help them when they sought his advice in August 1171. Pope Alexander excommunicated all four. Seeking forgiveness, the assassins travelled to Rome and were ordered by the Pope to serve as knights in the Holy Lands for a period of fourteen years.
  • The monks were afraid that Becket's body might be stolen. To prevent this Becket's remains were placed beneath the floor of the eastern crypt of the cathedral. A stone cover was placed over the burial place with two holes where pilgrims could insert their heads and kiss the tomb; this arrangement is illustrated in the 'Miracle Windows' of the Trinity Chapel. A guard chamber (now called the Wax Chamber) had a clear view of the grave. In 1220, Becket's bones were moved to a new gold-plated and bejewelled shrine behind the high altar in the Trinity Chapel. The shrine was supported by three pairs of pillars, placed on a raised platform with three steps. This is also illustrated in one of the miracle windows. Canterbury, because of its religious history, had always seen a large number of pilgrims. However, after the death of Thomas Becket, the number of pilgrims visiting the city grew rapidly.
  • Becket's bones remained in the shrine in Trinity Chapel until it was destroyed in 1538, around the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, on orders from King Henry VIII. The king also destroyed Becket's bones and ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated. The pavement where the shrine stood is today marked by a lit candle. Modern day archbishops celebrate the Eucharist at this place to commemorate Becket's martyrdom and the translation of his body from his first burial place to the new shrine.
  • Becket's last public act of defiance was a sermon to the Augustinian foundation at St. Mary's Priory at Southwark on 23 December, now the Cathedral. He then left for Canterbury by the principal route to Kent from there, now the A2 road. The pilgrimage started shortly after the murder, encouraged by the Augustinian orders at both Southwark and Canterbury, as a retracing of Becket's last journey. This was given added impetus with Becket's canonisation in 1173. The Pilgrimage had very strong advantages to those participating as it was relatively a short distance, between two major cities across a well policed area, convenient and affordable by a larger class of penitents. This contrasted with, for example, pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Saint-Denis, Paris or St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, or Santiago de Compostella across the Pyrenees, and the 'indulgences' and other religious benefits were as great. So successful was the procession that it led to the reconstruction of London Bridge, firstly in timber and then in stone, which included a chapel dedicated to Thomas on it. The pilgrims both began and ended their journey with devotions there. The new traffic generated economic development in Southwark, increasing its urban density and creating the long line of inns and hostelries along the High Street. Furthermore, due to the number of sick pilgrims hoping for a miraculous cure and arriving too unwell to continue, an infirmary was created by the Augustinians at St. Mary's Priory. It became dedicated to Becket, and was relocated from the precincts to a site now called St Thomas Street, a little to the south, not later than 1212. This is the origin of St Thomas' Hospital.
  • As the scion of the leading mercantile dynasty of later centuries, Mercers, Becket was very much regarded as a Londoner by the citizens and was adopted as the City's co-patron saint with St Paul: both their images appeared on the Seals of the City and of the Lord Mayor. The Bridge House Estates seal used only the image of Becket, while the reverse featured the depiction of his martyrdom.
  • Local legends regarding Becket arose after his canonisation. Though they are typical hagiographical stories, they also display Becket's particular gruffness. Becket's Well, in Otford, Kent, is said to have been created after Becket had become displeased with the taste of the local water. Two springs of clear water are said to have bubbled up after he struck the ground with his crozier. The absence of nightingales in Otford is also ascribed to Becket, who is said to have been so disturbed in his devotions by the song of a nightingale that he commanded that none should sing in the town ever again. In the town of Strood, also in Kent, Becket is said to have caused the inhabitants of the town and their descendants to be born with tails. The men of Strood had sided with the king in his struggles against the archbishop, and to demonstrate their support, had cut off the tail of Becket's horse as he passed through the town.
  • The saint's fame quickly spread throughout the Norman world. The first holy image of Becket is thought to be a mosaic icon still visible in Monreale Cathedral, in Sicily, created shortly after his death. Becket's cousins obtained refuge at the Sicilian court during his exile, and King William II of Sicily wed a daughter of Henry II. The principal church of the Sicilian city of Marsala is dedicated to St. Thomas Becket. Over forty-five medieval chasse reliquaries decorated in champlev - enamel showing similar scenes from Becket's life survive, including the Becket Casket in London (V&A Museum). He is commemorated by a statue in niche 196 of the west front of Salisbury Cathedral.