The Cathedral is the great ornament to the city, and the object of attraction to
visitors. It was founded on the palace in which Ethelbert, Britwald and King of
Kent, resided, when persuaded to become a Christian by Bertha, his Queen, and
St. Augustine, afterwards the first Archbishop of Canterbury. The King gave the
palace to the saint, who converted it into a cathedral and monastery, which,
being dedicated to Christ, obtained the title of Christchurch. It has therefore
palatial honours, as well as those due to the chief basilica in the country. It
was subsequently to its foundation much enlarged, but plundered by the Danes,
and Archbishop Alphage martyred. Archbishop Lanfranc, after the Norman
accession, repaired the cathedral, and rebuilt it on a magnificent scale. In the
reigns of Henry I. and II. it suffered from fire. Part of the crypt or
undercroft is supposed to be part of Archbishop Lanfranc's building. On the 7th
July, 1220, a new shrine was erected for St. Thomas-a-Becket, who was massacred
at the high altar on December 29th, 1170. At subsequent periods the cathedral
and greatly extended. Lately, considerable restorations in good taste have been
carried out. The cathedral is in the form of a double cross, with a central
tower and pinnacles rising to a height of 235 feet, and having two west towers
130 feet high. The interior contains many relics of its ancient splendour, and
the tombs of the kings, princes, and prelates who have been interred within its
walls. Around the cathedral are numerous chapels, most of which are interesting
and deserving of attention. In the church are interred St. Augustine, St. Anselm
1107, St. Alphage, St. Thomas-a-Becket, King Henry IV. and Queen Joan of
Navarre, Edward the Black Prince, Thomas Duke of Clarence and his Duchess;
Archbishops Theobald, Richards, Peckham, Warham 1534, Courtnay 1396, Winchelsea
(who was considered as a saint), Reynolds, Walker, Kemp 1451, Stratford 1341,
Sudbury 1381, Meophan, Bradwarden 1389, Chicheley; Cardinal Coligny 1571, the
Cardinal Archbishop Langton, the Cardinal Archbishop
Bourchier, Cardinal Archbishop Morton, the Cardinal Archbishop Pole, the learned
Casaubon, Orlando Gibbons, the musician, died 1662; Sir John Buss, Colonel John
Stuart, Doctor Chapman, Prior, and Thomas Goldstone; Deans Rogers, Fotherbye
Buss, Turner, Powys, Bargrave, Oxenden, Hathbrand, Wotton, Bishop Waderburn,
Archdeacon Bourchier; John Beaufort, Marquis of Dorset; Lady Mohun of Dunster
Admiral Sir George Rooke, etc. The north cross aisle is the scene of St.
Becket' s martyrdom, where his altar first stood. Here, in 1299, Edward I. was
married to Queen Margaret. The great south window is a patchwork of ancient
glass, but magnificent.
The chapel of the Holy Trinity contains the tombs of Kings and Princes. In the
centre of this chapel once stood the sumptuous shrine of St Thomas. enclosing
his coffin of Gold; eastward of this chapel is an elegant part of the edifice,
called Becket's Crown. Here is the Patriarchal throne of grey marble, on which
the Lord Primate is enthroned.
St Peter and St Paul's chapel contained the shrine of St Anselm. St Andrew's
Chapel contains the ancient charters, of which some are before the Norman
accession. In the north aisle are two fine painted windows. The crypt is
appropriated to the worship of the Walloons and French refugees, who were
formerly numerous, but now nearly extinct. The congregation is only about a
score. Some French names are to be found in the City - as Delahaye,
De Lasaux, Duthoit, Dombrain, Lefevre, Pettit, Poiteven.
In the crypt no less than ten archbishops are buried. Here is At Thomas's
original tomb, where King Henry II, came barefoot to do penance, and King Louis
VII, of France (St Louis) watched a whole night.
The dimensions of the cathedral are - nave, 178 feet long; Cathedral, from east
to west inside, 514 feet long; choir, 180 feet long. The Cathedral precincts
contain some relics of antiquity, being the remains of the former Priory. The
fine Gothic gateway was built by Prior Goldstone in 1517. The library contains
some valuable MSS, and books; the MSS of Isaac Casaubon, William Sumner the
antiquary, and others; a collection of Greek and Roman coins, and an extensive
collection of Bibles.
In the Green Court is the Deanery, formerly the Priory, and containing portraits
of the Deans of Canterbury. The Sermon House, or Chapter House, 82 feet long, 37
broad and 54 high, is curious. Here, King Henry II was flogged by the monks in
penance for the murder of St Thomas. In the precincts is a Grammar school for
two masters and fifty scholars, founded by Henry VIII. The precinct of the
Cathedral, called Christchurch Precinct is under the jurisdiction of the Dean
and Chapter, and is in Blean Union. The Dean of Canterbury is well endowed. The
Dean and Chapter have extensive patronage, and their own courts.
All Saints' Church has been rebuilt; St. Mary and St. Mildred are united with
it, and form a rectory, valued at £117 per ann. in the gift of the Lord
Chancellor. St. Dunstan's Church is an ancient building. The Roper chancel has
several tombs, and here was at one time exhibited the skull of Sir Thomas More,
Lord Chancellor, which was interred here after his decapitation. The living is a
discharged vicarage, valued P.R. £107 per annum in the gift of the Archbishop.
St. Alphage's parish is united with St. Mary's Northgate; the living, a rectory
and vicarage, is valued P.R. at £189 per annum, in the gift of the Archbishop.
St. Andrew's and St. Mary's Bredman, High street, form now one parish; the
.living is valued P.R. £224 per annum, the Archbishop having the patronage twice
out of thrice, and the Dean and Chapter once. The church was rebuilt in 1764.
St. Peters and Holy Cross are now united; the living is a rectory and vicarage,
valued £161, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter and Archbishop alternately. St.
George and St. Mary Magdalen are united; the living is a rectory, valued P.R.
£150 per annum, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter. St. Margaret's is another
parish ; the living is a curacy, valued P.R. £87, and in the gift of the
Archdeacon. On St. Martin's Hill stands the parish church, which is remarkable
for being the most ancient Christian church in England, and for its having been
the first place of worship used by St Augustine when sent over by Pope Gregory
to preach Christianity. It was here also Bertha, the Queen of Ethelbert,
performed her devotion. It has undergone a thorough
repair, regard having been paid to the preservation of its antiquities as far as
It is supposed to have been first built about A.D. 187. The chancel walls are
almost entirely of Roman bricks. According to tradition, Queen Bertha was buried
here. The living is a rectory; presentation vested in the Archbishop and the
Dean and chapter alternately. St Martin's and St Paul's are united; the living
is a vicarage and recory valued P.R. £300 per annum, and alternately in the gift
of the Archbishop nd Dean and Chapter. St Mary Bredin is another parish; the
living is valued P.R. £149 per annum, and in the gift of Henry Lee Warner, Esq.
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