White Cliffs Of Dover – Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral

Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

The White Cliffs Of Dover Were Our Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral

We finished our visit to Amsterdam and headed for our first port on the next leg of our cruise along the Northern coast of Europe. The White Cliffs of Dover were our gateway to visit Canterbury Cathedral.

We did not spend much time in Dover but headed right for Canterbury. The Canterbury Cathedral played an interesting role in history in England. But it was the stunning interior of the church that we will always remember.

Landing Under The White Cliffs Of Dover

When we opened the curtains we knew we reached the White Cliffs of Dover. They were ghostly white in the mist of the morning. We watched as the sun came up across the bow of the Oceania Cruises ship. The sunrise caused the cliffs to shimmer pink.

Dover White Cliffs.jpg

Dover White Cliffs Oceania Cruises.jpg

Dover White Cliffs Oceania Cruises.jpg

High on the cliffs we got our first view of the Dover Castle. This was the first stop on our day trip from Dover.

Dover White Cliffs and Dover Castle.jpg

A Quick View Of The Dover Castle

The bus picked us up and drove slowly into the small town of Dover. Our guide pointed to the white cliffs. We learned that the chalk white cliffs were lined with black flint stone. As we passed one point, she talked about the defensive tunnels created in the cliffs. We saw a few of the caves that came out of the cliff.

Dover White Cliffs and Dover Caves.jpg

The bus climbed up to the top of the cliff. We got a view of the Dover Castle perched high above the cliffs. It was a massive fortress. Our guide said it would take most of a day to explore it all.

Dover Castle - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

The bus parked so people could get a closer view. Many people walked down the hill and got a closer look at the sheep as they grazed on the hill below the castle. After a short stop in Dover we were on our way to visit Canterbury Cathedral

We Strolled Through Canterbury To The Cathedral

The bus parked on the outskirts of the town. We followed our guide into the older part of town along the cobblestone streets. The first part of the town was the newer part that was largely re-built after it was bombed in WWII.

Canterbury Town.jpg

Canterbury Town.jpg

The narrow streets of the older part of town led to the cathedral. We saw the cathedral as it peeked up over the buildings. And then we found the gate into the cathedral

Canterbury Town View of Canterbury Cathedral - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Entrance Gate - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Entrance Gate.jpg

Our guide provided us with some history of this historic cathedral. She talked about Thomas Becket (also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury). Becket was murdered in the church by knights of King Henry II. The great shrine that was erected to Becket was confiscated by Henry VIII and only a candle remained in his memory.

This was the first Church of England. It was converted from a Catholic church when Henry VIII created his own church so he could get an annulment from Catherine of Aragon when it was denied by Pope Clement.

Canterbury Cathedral From The Outside

Our visit to Canterbury Cathedral started on the outside. The cathedral was massive. As with many monuments we visited, a large amount of the outside and some of the inside was covered with scaffolding.

Outside View.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Outside View - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

We walked around and saw the building from different angles. The vast number of stained glass windows were evident as we walked around. We knew we were in for a treat when we went inside.

Canterbury Cathedral Outside View - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Outside View - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Outside View.jpg

There were actually three different structures on the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral – Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church. When we walked around we saw some of the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey.

Canterbury Cathedral Outside View Abbey Ruins.jpg

Before we entered the church we wandered along the covered portico and looked out at the tranquil and green cloister area.

Canterbury Cathedral Outside View Abbey Cloister - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

The walk around the outside was just the gateway to visit Canterbury Cathedral. We were excited to discover the inside.

Amazing Inside Views When You Visit Canterbury Cathedral

We entered the cathedral at the Nave end. This was a massive open area filled with folding chairs. An altar was at one end. Behind this we saw the carved wall of the Choir Screen.

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Nave.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Nave Choir Screen.jpg

The ceilings were decorated with coat of arms. Floor tiles showed the wear of many generations of worshippers. We saw the Compass Rose on the floor that was a symbol of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The pulpit was intricate in design but we found the organ much simpler in comparison.

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Nave Ceiling - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Inside Nave Floor.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Nave Compass Rose - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Inside Nave Pulpit.jpg

Entering the Quipe we found a set of pews on either side. When we reached the end we found yet another altar.

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Nave Quipe - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Nave Altar.jpg

While we were in the church, the minister came on the PA system and asked people to pause in their visit. He took a moment of silence, said his blessings and then talked us through the Lord’s Prayer. Almost everyone stopped snapping pictures for our religious moment in the church.

The Tombs At Canterbury Cathedral

Around the side of the Nave we found a number of areas with dedications or small altars for worship. Many of them were tributes to the world wars.

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Canterbury Cathedral Inside Side Altars - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

The cathedral hosted memorials and tombs for famous and influential people dating back to 1205. These tombs generally had ornate statues of the tomb occupants. We stopped several times and checked these out as we walked around Canterbury Cathedral.

Inside Tombs.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Tombs - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Inside Tombs.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Tombs - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Far at the end we found the small area where the candle to St Thomas Becket sat in the middle of the floor. This represents the shrine that stood for 300 years before it was destroyed by Henry VIII.  In this area we found tombs for a couple. And a fascinating tomb with a dog statue at the feet.

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Tombs Thomas Beckett.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Tombs - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

As we walked through Canterbury Cathedral we got a real sense of the history of this church.

Stained Glass Windows

We wandered around the inside of the Canterbury Cathedral. As promised on the outside we found such an enormous display of colourful stained glass windows. The windows told tales all around the church.

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Stained Glass - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Inside Stained Glass.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Stained Glass - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Inside Stained Glass.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Stained Glass - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Canterbury Cathedral Inside Stained Glass - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

Inside Stained Glass.jpg

But we were not quite done. A door led us into the Chapter House. There we discovered yet more intricate stained glass and a beautiful ceiling.

Inside Stained Glass Chapter House - Port of Dover - Gateway To Visit Canterbury Cathedral.jpg

As gawked our way through Canterbury Cathedral we got a real sense of the beauty of this church.

We Headed Back To Dover

The tour group was left to enjoy the cathedral or the small town of Canterbury. David and I managed to get separated in the church. So we both wandered around the cathedral and the town in search of each other. It was not the first time we wished we brought walkie talkies with us!

It was great to visit Canterbury Cathedral. As Canadians we learned lots of English history including the antics of Henry VIII. It was an amazingly beautiful cathedral inside. This church reminded us of our visit to the Salisbury Cathedral.

We were sp glad we got to visit Canterbury Cathedral on this stop. This was one more of the great day trips from London for a return trip.

From Dover we headed back across the English Channel and cruised along the northern coast in Europe. Our next port stop was the lovely seaside port town of Honfleur, France.

Have you seen the White Cliffs of Dover? Did you visit Canterbury Cathedral?

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About TravelAtWill 592 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

49 Comments

  1. The Canterbury Cathedral’s stained glass windows remind me so much of a church I visited while in the north of France. All your photos are so lovely! I had no idea this was the first church of England, what a lovely and historic site!

  2. Dover and Canterburry make me think of Bretagne and Normandy in France: the houses look quite similar and the white cliffs are just like Etretat (maybe due to their geographical proximity, you were probably able to compare). We hope to make it there on our next campervan trip to the British Isles.

  3. I remember visiting the White Cliffs of Dover via boat as a child and all I can remember is how cold I was! I wish I could go back now and fully appreciate it, and visit the Canterbury Cathedral as well. Love the beauty of the stained glass windows.

    • The White Cliffs of Dover had been on my wish for so long. It was great to get a view from sunrise through to sunset. I hope you do go back and get to see the Canterbury Cathedral as well. So much in this are to explore.

  4. Gone are the days when Calais was connected with Dover by ferry and continental teenagers come on that route to exciting England. I was one of them, but at that time, I didn’t care for either cliffs or cathedral. Today, it’s a whole different story and one of my future trips will go criss cross the UK – I think there are so many underrated places to explore.

  5. I have toured through Dover Castle and wandered the cobblestone streets of Cantebury. Cantebury is one of my all-time favourite quaint towns! The Cathedral is absolutely stunning. I have very fond memories of both these areas.

  6. Wow I never knew just how stunning canterbury cathedral is. I have seen the exterior before when working in the work and many pictures of it but the interior is stunning.

  7. I have been hearing a lot about Dover recently! I am reading a book about an Englishman who swam around the entire UK, and we came across the part about Dover and he totally mentioned the White Cliffs. I am unsure how this place flew under my radar for so long, but now hearing about it so much makes me really want to visit. The city itself looks really charming too

  8. Oooohhh.. you’re coming closer to London now in your travel blog posts, Linda. Nice!!

    I must have crossed the English Channel well over a hundred times over the years (I regularly commuted between London and Frankfurt for years), but I only crossed it twice on a boat: when I was visiting England from Germany with my sister and my parents at the age of 12.

    Your report brought up some fond memories of that trip. I’m not even going to start going on about Canterbury, where I proposed to Ellie 12 years ago haha…

    You clearly like the cathedral as much as Ellie & I do. Some great pictures of the details of this marvellous gem of architecture here.

    I’m hoping to visit Dover again soon for some open water swimming. Thank you for sharing this lovely post.

  9. There are many old churches in Goa, India. But this one is magnificent. I studied Canterbury Tales during my graduation days and now after reading your post, I wish I had been more attentive to the book. This must have been quite an experience to be in the oldest house of prayers.

  10. It’s so amazing and stunning to see the white cliffs of Dover. I love Canterbury as well. I’ve been there a couple of times around the Christmas period. It’s really nice for Christmas shopping and to get that fairytale atmosphere.

  11. Waking up to the White Cliffs of Dover sounds dreamy! I have only seen them from a bit of a distance and wasn’t aware of the caves. I have been to Canterbury
    On a day trip and loved the old town. The cathedral is incredible. It was under construction when I was there also, I imagine the upkeep is ongoing.

  12. Two trips to England for me but I still have not been to the White Clilffs or Canterbury! I can’t wait to get back to the UK…such beautiful place. Especially after I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett I have been dying to get back and tour more cathedrals!

    • We have spent most of our time in London. So it was good to get a taste test of places outside the big city. Lots to send us back to the Dover area on another trip.

  13. What a stunning view you had when you get to Dover! The stained glasses in Canterbury Cathedral are just amazing. When seeing places like this I always wonder how they maintain the place, such as how do they clean the windows, those intricate sculptures, etc. Definitely a great place to learn about Henry VIII.

  14. Wow, what a view. It seems more impressive from the deck of a cruise ship. The cathedral is much bigger than I imagined and the stained glass is impressive. Curious what the tomb with the dog statue was about.

    • There were so many interesting tombs and there was not a lot of info about the various tombs and history. But fascinating to see the wide variety and what history was showcased at Canterbury Cathedral. A great day after our beautiful start with the White Cliffs of Dover.

  15. I have always wanted to visit cliffs of dover just for the dramatic cliffs I had seen in so many movies and show, but had no idea about this Cathedral! What a marvel, and it is so well kept. The detail of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows is absolutely stunning. Also, it was interesting to know the place makes a point to remember the old structure that was destroyed. Loved the post! 😀

    • We were happy we got to see such different facets of this part of England. The White Cliffs of Dover were great to see as we arrived and left. Cool to get a close up view too.

  16. I have fond memories of both these places. I visited both Dover and Canterbury in 2 different day trips from London. Indeed white cliffs of Dover looks so fascinating from the sea. Whenever we were on the ferry on English channel, I always go to the deck to see those white cliffs. Its just wow. It is really nice to walk along the cliffs. Too bad you didn’t have much time to do that. Next time! Canterbury is a charming town indeed.

    • I think that two different day trips from London is a good idea. I would love to spend more time in the town of Canterbury and explore the Dover castle. But a great teaser for us!

  17. A very stunning cathedral indeed. Those stained glass windows are real work of art. Pity you could not get more of the Dover castle but then I understand time was a constraint. I loved the view you woke up to. That truly was a good start to your day.

  18. The Canterbury Cathedral is rather impressive and beautiful. As for the stained glass windows! They are magnificent. I was fortunate to see the White Cliffs of Dover many years ago but never got to see the cathedral, so thanks for sharing!

  19. Wow! I love history and read so much about the England and Scotland. And Henri VIII is of course one characters it’s hard to miss. And the Canterbury Cathedral is part of that history but besides its historical value, I am stunned how beautiful the church is. These stained glass panels are simply mind-blowing! If we ever make it to Dover, we will for sure stop to visit and soak into the grandiose architecture.

    • We too loved the history surrounding the Canterbury Cathedral. But the inside architecture and design beauty kept us entranced on our visit. All great reasons to visit if you make it to the Dover area.

  20. This sounds like a really special day – first the cliffs, and then the castle, and then the cathedral, then the town. Such a rich experience. And those windows are so beautiful.
    Alison

  21. We love those stunning White Cliffs of England! It must have been such a lovely sight to see them when you opened the curtains from your boat. We spent two days in Dover and explored the Dover castle as well. However we did not spend much time in Canterbury. The cathedral was under renovation. You have captured some lovely images of the inside of the Cathedral! We must spend more time at the cathedral and the city of Canterbury next time. Bookmarking your blog! 🙂

  22. What a view over to the Dover cliffs first thing in the morning! I can imagine that feeling of anticipation as you walked through the town and saw the castle towering behind the buildings in the street. I just love the stained glass windows – beautiful!

    • It was indeed exciting to see the Cathedral getting closer over the town. And the gates were a fun portal to the site. We were glad we got to see this beauty.

  23. Canterbury Cathedral is one of my all-time favorite cathedrals I’ve been to. It’s SO beautiful, and the history is fascinating! And the town itself is adorable. I tried to squeeze in a trip to the cliffs, but ran out of time. But those are definitely on my list for when I get to go back to England!

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