Saturday, June 9, 2012

Excursion to Canterbury

After having an excursion to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the group followed up with an excursion out to Canterbury Cathedral and surrounding medieval points of interest, in the County of Kent in the South of England. Amazingly enough the areas of Canterbury we visited were full of people wishing to examine one of Britain’s premier Cathedrals, and the shrine to St. Thomas Becket.
The recreation of a pilgrimage started at St. Dunstan’s Church, the site where the head of Sir Thomas More is entombed in the crypt, and apparently it smells quite sweet, attesting to his saintliness. The church itself is a perfect example of a medieval parish church, and contains a very well made baptismal font and a chapel that takes up approximately a third of the church.  After visiting St. Dunstan’s the group visited the ruins of the Abbey of St. Augustine and its attached museum.
At the site of the Abbey we walked through the ruins of the crypt of the church, its chapel, and the burial sites of the early Archbishops of Canterbury and other saints. Interestingly enough in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey, there were faint traces of artwork on the walls. Coincidentally, at the Cathedral of Canterbury, in the Chapel of St. Gabriel there was art work decorating its altar wall which was saved, from the Puritan campaign to remove all idols or human figures from church decoration.
                  The Canterbury Cathedral is home to many more great historical artifacts and sites, one example being the stained glass of Adam in the middle of the bottom row stained glass windows at the end of the nave and narthex. The Cathedral is also a prime example of the shift of the Romanesque style of architecture to the Gothic, featuring flying buttresses, pointed arches, and pointed arches. Besides the amazing architecture like the amazing stone screen that separates the choir and the important crypts/sarcophagi, there is the fact that many of the great pieces of religious art were destroyed or painted over by the Puritans during their emergence under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, or was taken away when King Henry VIII converted the whole country to Anglicanism.
Evan Heib

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