14th June 2008 – Visit to Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral - AltarOn a fine June day, 22 members of the Society made their way as modern pilgrims to Canterbury Cathedral. St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 597 AD and he built a cathedral on the site. Augustine’s original building lies beneath the floor of the nave – it was extensively rebuilt and enlarged by the Saxons, and was rebuilt completely by the Normans in 1070 following a major fire. There have been many additions to the building over the last nine hundred years, but parts of the quire and some of the windows and their stained glass date from the 12th century. By 1077, Archbishop Lanfranc had rebuilt it as a Norman church, described as “nearly perfect, with stone imported from Caen. The architecture varies from Romanesque to Gothic Perpendicular with the largest quire in England, which was extended and rebuilt by Archbishop Anselm. Canterbury Cathedral - CryptThe gruesome murder of Beckett was told in historical detail although nothing remains now of his magnificent shrine which once drew thousands in pilgrimage. A few medieval stained glass windows survive, protected from the elements.

Following a fascinating tour, members joined in the celebration of Mass in the East Crypt at which Father Nicholas Kavanagh from St James, Spanish Place officiated. The collection was donated to the Cathedral. The day concluded with luncheon at the Cathedral Lodge, which is a new building in the precincts.