Susie, the guide for our walking tour said “If you join the service which starts at 3:15pm, you do not need to pay for the entrance. You can hear the chorus, too. The service lasts only about 40 minutes”.
We could not take any photos during the service and wanted to look around, so we bought the tickets to get in anyway.
It was £12.50 per person, which was not cheap considering there was a lot of scaffolding inside because they were in the middle of a big scale renovation work.
This cathedral has got a very long history.
The missionaries from Rome came here and converted the king of Kent to Christianity in 597 AD.
The leader of the missionaries, Augustine, was consecrated as Archbishop and since then the Cathedral has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
There are so many stories during this long history, but the most dramatic one is about Thomas Becket.
Susie told us about it: Becket was born in the early 12th century and in the early days, he and the King of England, Henry II, were good friends and Becket helped Henry to expand his power.
But as soon as Becket was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1161, he started following Rome rather than the King.
The relationship between the two men became very foul and Becket moved away to France for a while, but because a compromise was worked out in 1170, he came back to Canterbury.
But the reality had not changed and in the end, Henry ordered Becket’s arrest.
On the 29th December in the same year, Becket ran into the Cathedral from his palace next to it, thinking that nobody would do anything harmful in God’s house.
But the pursuers did not hesitate coming into the Cathedral and the heavy sword was blown on top of his head and he was killed.
The last thing he said was apparently “For the name of Jesus and the defence of the Church, I am ready to embrace death”.
Soon after his death, he was acclaimed as a martyr.
Henry II regretted what he did and came to Canterbury to be scourged by 80 monks at Becket’s tomb in 1174.
In 1220, a shrine was made within the Cathedral and this was the destination for pilgrims for a long time.
A bit more than 300 years later, in 1536, the then King of England , Henry VIII, established the English Protestant Church, separating from Rome just because he wanted to divorce.
He destroyed the shrine of Becket in 1538.
We saw the portrait of Henry VIII the other day in Greenwich.
He was not a good looking man, with a fat face and small eyes, like Boris Yeltsin, the former Russian president.
It is a mystery how he could get married as many as 6 times!
Anyway, a candle was burning now at the place where the shrine used to be.
Among the gorgeous decorations in the Cathedral, this place was very simple and I will remember that with this dramatic story.
Apart from that, we saw many things here.
For example, the pulpit used by the Archbishop at special occasions like Christmas and Easter, the gorgeous ceiling at the Bell Harry Tower in the middle, and the crypt.
Then we went out to the cloister.
The ceiling here has a lot of late medieval English heraldry.
The ceiling of the Chapter House, which we could enter from the cloister, was beautiful, too.
According to the information booklet, this is made from oak and built around 1400.
There was a mirror to see the detail of it.