From whichever direction you enter the city, the skyline is dominated by the cathedral. At 557 feet high it presides over Canterbury. It is the mother church of the Anglican Faith throughout the world, and has held pilgrimage status since 1170 when Thomas Beckett was martyred.
The cathedral spans the centuries – the earliest part being the Romanesque Crypt circa 1100, the rebuilt Gothic Quire circa 1200 and the Nave built in the 14th and 15th centuries. See the famous stained glass windows and visit the tomb of Henry IV and the Black Prince.
In 597, Pope Gregory of Rome sent Augustine to England to reconvert the English to Christianity. Ethelbert, King of Kent, granted land outside the city walls to build a monestry, and in 598 work began on what is now the oldest monastic site in Britain. A new museum was opened recently to commemorate the 1400th anniversary of the arrival of St Augustine.
In 1538 the monestry was surrendered to King Henry VIII who demolished the abbey and built, over a 15 year period, a royal palace. Today you can see the original ruins of the abbey and the Tudor brickwork of the palace.
St Martin’s is England’s oldest parish church, given by King Ethelbert to Queen Bertha.
It was here in 597 that Augustine came to pray whilst his monestry was being built.
It is believed to date back to Roman times, when the area was known as Durovernum.