After tea we set off down the high street and ambled slowly towards the cathedral. Set within its own grounds, Canterbury Cathedral was an ornate, gray-stoned edifice surrounded by patches of green lawn and clumps of trees. Of course, this cathedral is most famous for the archbishop who was murdered near its altar at the implied request of Henry II, who famously cried out, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
Although Henry the Eighth dismantled the shrine around the place of martyrdom, the spot where Thomas a Beckett was murdered is still marked. Or so we were told. On the big, black, studded doors, a little typed notice informed us the cathedral was closed for some event of a religious nature. Lew found it most galling.
“Bloody unlucky, that is! I mean, it’s not as if it’s Sunday, is it? Coming all this way!”
Lew sounded more than a bit miffed, convinced all religious events should only happen on the day of rest. But the weather was pleasant, if a little cold, so we decided to walk around the cathedral’s precincts. The soaring towers, ornate windows, and perching gargoyles were still worth seeing. I could easily imagine how, upon its completion seven hundred years ago, this building would have had a profound impact on the pilgrims of the day. Especially since practically all the buildings in the immediate vicinity were squat and lowly dwellings of thatch and clay and cow dung. How imposing, yet how incongruous this towering edifice must have appeared, with its walls of windows and sweeping stonework: the physical manifestation of God’s glory, or man’s folly.
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