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 western 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.
High on the cliffs we got our first view of the Dover Castle. This was the first stop on our day trip from Dover.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Before we entered the church we wandered along the covered portico and looked out at the tranquil and green cloister area.
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.
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.
Entering the Quipe we found a set of pews on either side. When we reached the end we found yet another altar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you seen the White Cliffs of Dover? Did you visit Canterbury Cathedral?
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