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Pictures of Canterbury Cathedral

a Cathedral in the town of Canterbury, in the county of Kent

About Canterbury Cathedral

This magnificent cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. It was the scene of Thomas a' Becket's murder in 1170, the spot is marked by a plaque, later he was made a Saint, there is a magnificent shrine to him in the Cathedral.

The building is renowned for its fantastic Norman crypt, believed to be the largest in the world; it is also known for its wonderful series of chapel's. The impressive Lady Chapel is quite possibly the best of these, it has fine stone screens - a gift of the Black Prince who wanted the chapel to be his final resting place. The Black Prince's Chantry is an early Norman chapel once used by the Huguenots; it takes its name from alterations made by the Black Prince. Two of the oldest chapels in the cathedral are opposite the north transept, these are dedicated to St.Mary Magdalene and St.Nicholas. St. Gabriel's chapel has Byzantine frescoes dating from the early 1100's in here visitors can see pillars carved with figures and animals. And in the great east crypt is yet another magnificent chapel of our Lady, this has a ceiling decorated with crowns carrying the letter "M".

Originally the cathedral was founded in the year 597, but nothing of these buildings remain. The buildings we see today are the product of early craftsmen following the Conquest. Much of the glory of Canterbury Cathedral rests with two men, William of Sens, who designed the choir and apse after the fire of 1174, and Henry Yevele, who designed the nave in 1374. Late in the 15th-century the central Bell Harry Tower was added.

Superb elaborate monuments can be seen throughout the cathedral, and in Trinity Chapel on the south side visitors can see the magnificent tomb of Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III, who died in 1376. On the north side lie the bodies of King Henry IV and his wife Joan of Navarre, they rest in a canopied tomb with splendid alabaster effigies.

Historically, Thomas a' Becket is Canterbury Cathedral's most famous Archbishop, but Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop here during the Reformation, it is he that compiled the early Prayer Books for what was to become the established Church of England. During the reign of Mary I when the Catholic religion was restored Cardinal Pole was anointed Archbishop. Of the men who served as Archbishop during the reign of Elizabeth I, the two best known are John Whitgift and Matthew Parker.

Most recently in the 20th-century, the late Pope John Paul, leader of the Roman Catholic Church met with Archbishop John Runcie in 1982 at Canterbury Cathedral. The two men knelt together in silent prayer at the shrine of Thomas a' Becket.

This is an awesome place which is undeniably beautiful, it's rich historic past is illustrated at every turn you make and this applies to the magnificent architecture of the exterior as much as it does to its glorious interior.

To visit Canterbury Cathedral is to part-take of one of life's most rewarding spiritual experiences.

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