As my aunt and uncle are living in Canterbury for the semester, I set off to go visit them! After a quick trip on the tube and a two-hour coach ride, I was in the land of Thomas Beckett and Chaucer’s Tales. And I couldn’t have had better tour guides! They told me the history of places before the docents in the Cathedral even had the chance. For being in the city only about three weeks, they’ve definitely learned a lot about its history and the story of many of its old buildings. I learned all about King Ethelbert and his wife Bertha (St Martin’s Church was built in the 6th century for her and remains as the oldest church in England!), saw the ancient Roman walls, and admired the oldest stained glass windows (found in Canterbury Cathedral).
The Cathedral was absolutely beautiful, and I’m so glad I had the chance to go there! Talking to the docents and getting history lessons from my aunt and uncle absolutely made the experience. They each added layers of meaning to every aspect of the church, making it a rich tour of the Cathedral. And it coincided perfectly with one of my classes! In my Medieval History course this week, we’d discussed the miracles of Thomas Beckett as well as the purposes of relics and reliquaries. So what better timing than to be in the Canterbury Cathedral itself only a day later?! Plus, I’m writing a paper on the religious uses of art and architecture in which I will definitely include my firsthand accounts!
We also went to the Canterbury Tales Museum, which felt like Disneyland for Chaucer. It’s an audio tour with moving scenes of some of the tales, including the Knight’s Tale, the Miller’s Tale, the Wife of Bath’s Tale, etc., where you feel as if you’re actually on the pilgrimage with them. It was definitely a crude version of Fantasyland! Afterward, we went back to the Cathedral for Evensong, where the voices of the boys in the choir were absolutely beautiful!
For dinner, I had steak and kidney pie – check plus for being super British!