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Uncovering the Secrets of the Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is an iconic part of English history and well worth a visit and a tour. Let us tell you why.


No one told me that Canterbury in July is a sweltering hot pot with no way to escape the heat; that is unless you head into the depths of the famous Canterbury Cathedral. Melting and ready to lean up against some cool stone crypts, Jim and I almost turned around when the ticket lady told us how much it was to enter–10.50 British Sterling each. What?

Yes, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yes, it some important people have been buried there such as kings, queens, archbishops…But really? 10.50? It seemed a bit steep to me. Don’t let the negativity stop you, I’m always cranky when I get hot. We love Canterbury!

Canterbury Cathedral.

It didn’t really matter, though. We had bypassed the cathedral too many times, and this time we planned to stop. We planned it.  We don’t often plan stops, but when we do, we like to follow through. Canterbury is a charming, walled city and we were lucky enough to find decent parking.

School children on a field trip.
Exterior of Cantebury Cathedral.

Even though we were a mere ten minutes from the cathedral, and even though the half-timbered buildings, decorative cake shops, ubiquitous pubs, and a few cute chippies kept us interested, we were more than a bit sweaty as we approached the ticket booth.  With four of us looking to enter, the sales clerk was a bit apologetic when she found out we had no way of getting a discount.  42 pounds later, we were now hot, sweaty, and more than a bit grumpy.

There is plenty of info to read inside the cathedral.

We did perk up a little once we opened the ornate double doors and stepped back in time.  One thing I wasn’t expecting was the size of the cathedral. It was huge…not to mention, old! Its history dates back to 597 when the very first Archbishop of Canterbury arrived and set up shop.

Interior of Canterbury Cathedral,
A beautiful fresco inside the cathedral.

It goes without saying that a place of worship this old and important has had a tumultuous history.  Officially closed by King Henry VIII in 1540, the cathedral still was a place of prayer and proudly states it has been for over 1400 years.

Choir rehearsal room.

We spent about an hour and a half wandering through the various naves and rooms, but to be fair, you could spend at least double that amount of time there.  The cathedral has so many stories to share, and there were docents just standing around waiting for someone to ask them a question. From murder to treason and everything in between, much of English history took place within its walls.

Marble dog.

I was talking to one lady not far from the grave of the Black Knight, and she told me about how the cathedral had townspeople standing on the roof during the Battle of Britain. When the bombs fell, the people kicked them off the side of the building to protect it.  What a sight that would have been.

A list of organists dating back 500 years.
The arches inside the cathedral.

One little detail that we found was a sign that named all the organists from the beginning of the cathedral, which was a pretty impressive list.

Have you been to the Canterbury Cathedral?  What is your favorite story?

Other Things to Do in England

Take the tour at Cantebury Cathedral.

Mark Baldwin

Tuesday 31st of January 2017

Don't forget though, your ticket can be extended to 12 months free entry, but you have to ask at the visitors centre. Also, there are free guides that you just have to ask, wearing yellow sashes. They try not to bother you but are very willing to help.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 31st of January 2017

Mark, I didn't know this. Great tip, thanks.

Ruth - Tanama Tales

Monday 23rd of November 2015

Wow! That is one amazing cathedral. I think I will never get tired of visiting places like this.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 24th of November 2015

Ruth, It was an amazing cathedral. Well worth the time and money. Go!

samiya selim

Sunday 22nd of November 2015

Wow! It is so beautiful inside Canterbury Cathedral! I have never been and now wish we had during our 10 years in England! Price is steep but seems it was worth it, and as you said it was cool inside...it can get really hot some days in the summer, always takes me by surprise :-) Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 24th of November 2015

Samiya, Well, the one thing I love about England when traveling with kids is they have a family rate. It just doesn't work when your kids are all grown up!

Anda

Sunday 22nd of November 2015

Ever since I studied Chaucer and his "Canterbury Tales" I felt attracted to this place. And no matter how steep the price, I'd still love to visit the Cathedral.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 24th of November 2015

Anda, I'm 100% sure you would love it! I hope you get there someday soon.

Marcia

Sunday 22nd of November 2015

Thanks for the tour, Corinne! I'm so bummed that I missed this. I thought I had booked it as part of a tour but unfortunately I picked the wrong tour. Was too late when I caught on.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 24th of November 2015

Marcia, You never know when you'll get another chance. Just keep it in mind. We loved it.