Friday, June 21, 2013

A Pilgrimage to Canterbury

This morning Mom and I took a high speed train from St Pancras Station to Canterbury.  

There are lots of wonderful old houses in Canterbury.

I'm not sure how old most of them are, but they certainly look old!

This is the Christ Church Gate built in 1517.

Inside the gate, the cathedral appears.
Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt between 1070-1077. It was once again largely rebuilt - this time in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174.  

We walked around the outside first, admiring some of the architectural details.

Inside the building soars to the heavens literally and figuratively.

One of the smaller chapels is dedicated to a Kent military regiment. 

Thomas Becket, the archbishop under King Henry II, was famously murdered in the cathedral in 1170 by two knights who'd overheard the king exclaim in frustration, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" There were significant eastward extensions added to the cathedral in 1174 to accommodate the flow of pilgrims who came to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket.  Do you remember your Chaucer? 

Much to see and admire and contemplate.

Canterbury does have some lovely stained glass windows.

This is a detail showing the Magi coming to see the newborn babe.

Here's one with Noah and the dove.

How could I ever chose a favorite? 

 During World War II, the cathedral's beautiful stained glass windows were removed for safekeeping from Hitler's air raids. It was a wise decision - the replacement windows were blown in. A large area of the town of Canterbury was destroyed, as was the cathedral library, but the main body of the cathedral remained intact; in part due to the efforts of the Fire Watchers.

After a break for lunch, Mom and I set off on a three mile walk along the Great Stour Way from Canterbury to Chartham.

With a river, and marshes, and lakes along the walk, there were also lots of birds to enjoy.

Here's one of the buttercup-filled meadows.

And here's a selection of the many wildflowers.

To my west coast eyes, the Stour is small - I think we'd call it a stream rather than a river.
Here's one of the marshes we passed by.

The Stour is exceptionally clear chalk-bottomed river.

I got excited when I saw a cottontail bunny.  Then I realized I could see twenty or more bunnies munching grass.

Besides the bunnies there were sheep, Highland cattle, and donkeys.  We carefully went through several wooden 'kissing gates' used to keep the livestock from escaping from their areas of pasture.

This thatched roof cottage with its female garden scarecrow was hands-down the Most Charming House.

We arrived at the Chartham train station with ten minutes to spare and caught a train back to London Bridge station.  I was pleased to see several oast houses(right of photo) along the way. An oast house is a building designed for drying hops as part of the brewing process. They can be found in many hop-growing areas like Kent. It is now fashionable to convert a redundant oast house into a family domicile.


Ann at Beadlework. said...

The cathedral is beautiful - a lovely place to visit. We seem to have a profusion of buttercups at the moment, I just commented this week that I can't remember ever seeing them in such abundance.

Margaret said...

Wow, so cool! The famous Canterbury Cathedral too. Can you imagine standing where Thomas Beckett was killed? Wow.

Barb said...

The windows were so amazing!!Thank goodness they were saved. Such a very interesting post with the birds flowers, animals and all !

Angie Burrett said...

Beautiful post - the cathedral is truely magnificent with a wonderful overwhelming feeling of the past. Our lawn is an abundance of buttercups, they look so pretty! Enjoy your weekend Beth x

Marlene Jones said...

I am glad you loved Canterbury, it is a favorite place of ours, every thing side the walls is so very interesting.
You point out the most simple of sights, nature is a real joy xxx

cucki said...

So much fun x

Mouse said...

ooooo loved the tour today too ... what more can you ask for ... gorgeous stained glass windows aren't they ... and the scenery is simply gorgeous but then I am biased and had a giggle about the river
and cute bunnies and other four legged creatures you saw too :) where will you end up next i wonder :) love mouse xxxxx

Chris said...

Lovely day. I loved seeing the cathedral. It is an amazing place to visit. Thanks for taking me on the lovely walk too.

Vickie said...

Oh my goodness! Beth, I actually have goose bumps reading and looking today. GORGEOUS! You are going to have soooooooooooo many photos! ;)

Annette-California said...

Beth you deserve 2 awards. One for Great photography and another one for all the walking:) Love the old home's and the church. Those windows are amazing. Love the bunnies. What a dream trip you and your mom are having. Are you planning to visit Elizabeth Bradley's house of needlepoint? I'm not sure where in England she's located. love Annette

Melanie said...

So many amazing things to see. Just so so so many beautiful things. You really must put all these posts into a printed book to save for all time for yourself. It's not just the pictures, it's your impressions of things in the moment that really make us all feel like we were there. (Well, and leave you wanting you more. I feel like running out to get a passport ASAP now JUST IN CASE. lol)

Is that teapot signage.....all ceramic tile? It's such a small thing, in the midst of all the cathedral stuff but I really like it.

I have read about that cathedral quite extensively and I can't imagine how it is to see in person. Humbling, comes to mind straightaway.

Athena at Minervas Garden said...

What an amazing day you had, Beth! I'd love to ride the high-speed rail :) The gorgeous old houses, and the cathedral, and the hops houses at the end--what a beautiful part of a lovely country you got to visit, and thank you for sharing it with us!