Hello, Blog Fans. We've just returned from a quick visit to Canterbury and Dover in the county of Kent (SE corner of England). Today (Monday) is a Bank Holiday so the extra day gave us the chance to venture out for the weekend.
We left on Saturday and drove to Canterbury (B). We stayed at a very nice B&B (Bluebells Guesthouse). We toured Canterbury the rest of the day. On Sunday, we spent the day in Dover (C). Normal people would have taken in some sites on Monday, but, alas, we simply returned home as laundry, chores, homework and shopping beckoned prior to starting the new week.
The drive back was just over 3 hours. Unfortunately, a key section of the M25 was closed on the way down. Given the warnings of delays on the M1, we picked a more easterly route that cost us about an hour. Oh well.
Canterbury -- what comes to mind? For me, it is the Canterbury Tales and having to memorize the first 20-odd lines of the prologue in 12th grade English.
|WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote|
|The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,|
|And bathed every veyne in swich licour,|
|Of which vertu engendred is the flour;|
Right. What the heck is that? Ultimately, I'm a knuckle-dragging engineer who doesn't have the time or interest for that. But, being the curious sort, I did happen to notice a new "modern" version that I picked up for £4.99:
Sacrilege for sure, but it's making some sense now (and funny too). For those that may not remember, the Canterbury Tales tell the story of a motley crew on a Pilgrimage to visit the grave of St. Thomas (Becket) in Canterbury. More to the point, it is a tale of their tales (Miller, Knight, Wife of Bath, etc.)
Thomas Becket was a clerk who worked his way up to the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury. King Henry II thought he was on his side but found that Thomas was very much on the Church rights side. They quarreled over many things including the right to try crimes by the Church (see the Constitutions of Clarendon). The King uttered something to the effect of "can anyone help me get rid of this guy?" and it was taken quite literally (1170).
So, clerk --> Archbishop --> Martyr --> Saint
Tales of his healing powers (in death) grew and Canterbury's popularity grew as many made the pilgrimage to see for themselves.
Alrighty then, enough from me. On to some photos.
Note: parents don't forget (like me) to print out your voucher for your kids to get into the Cathedral for free (link). General visit info here..
at the entrance Gate to the courtyard of the Cathedral
in the nave, looking down towards the quire
a view of the Cloister
back down the Nave
in the quire
the symbolic candle left burning to mark the spot of his shrine (that Henry VIII had destroyed)
stained glass above the Corona Chapel
We enjoyed the Cathedral and learning more about Thomas Becket since we were fairly ignorant to begin with. We've seen quite a few the last 2 years and they do tend to run together a bit though this one has the whole Becket thing going for it.
We still hold the Yorkminster in high regard and I remember the tour there talking about how York was equal or ahead in the church power struggle, but then Canterbury lucks out by having its Archbishop murdered and the rest is history.
After the Cathedral, we walked over to the Canterbury Heritage Museum. What a great find! We really enjoyed this museum which walks you through from the Stone Age to present day Canterbury.
Canterbury during Roman times (AD 300 or so)
post-Roman, deserted Canterbury; the early Anglo-Saxons opted for a more rural life
Note: in 597 Augustine was sent by the Pope (in Rome) to Kent to spread the word among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. (As you can see from the map up top and as a re-occurring theme, this area is the closest point to the continent so is a likely landing spot). King Aethelbert allowed the mission and Christianity began to spread -- over 10,000 were baptized on Christmas Day!
circa 700 AD -- the Anglo-Saxons begin to set up home inside the city walls
I didn't note the date, but it's obviously later with the Cathedral now built up
My favorite part of the museum was this modern, simple 60-ft frieze that tells the tale of Thomas Becket.
Thomas struck down
King Henry's penance
the early tomb/shrine up top (and the early selling of relics down below)
We stopped off at an old bookstore (Chaucher's Bookshop) and found a 1962 OS map of Derby and an early 1900's travel book for the Peak District. I didn't purchase either though. We then went to Waterstones though and I did buy the revised Canterbury Tales along with a book for Alex.
On our way back to our B&B, we also made a quick stop at
the Canterbury Castle -- Norman, after the Battle of Hastings (1066)
After a quick rest, we walked back into town for dinner. We ate very well on this trip (as you know, this is a key part of my research). On the first night, we ate at Deeson's -- excellent British cuisine (no, it's not an oxymoron). Service was also very good -- I'm beginning to think we are simply getting the short end of the stick here in Derby.
Kuk's seafood platter starter
The meal was very good. I pride myself on trying everything, but I should have pulled up short on this one. I saved the ball on the right for last. It's a duck "faggot". Faggots are made from meat "off-cuts" and offal (i.e. stomach lining). You usually get a bonus of a few extra organs mixed in there. Duck haggis I guess. Interesting, yes; tasty, not so much. I'll chalk that one up to cultural differences. That was an exception, however, as the rest of the food was fantastic.
Sunday -- Dover Castle and the Cliffs
We awoke Sunday to a glorious day. Sunny and in the mid-60s. Perfect. First stop, was Dover Castle. It was about 25 minutes from Canterbury. We got there slightly before opening (10) and had to wait to park but we got in. After getting our (free, thanks English Heritage membership) tickets, we headed straight for the Operation Dynamo tunnel.
ready to enter -- unfortunately we are at the front as we just missed the last tour
No photos allowed inside. I really enjoyed the tour and learned quite a bit (never thought I'd get so much WW II history along the way).
Backing up a bit, the castle site dates way back to the Iron Age. There is also a lighthouse still standing from Roman times. Work began shortly after William the Conqueror but the castle really took off under Henry II in 1160.
In Napoleonic times (end of 18th century), significant rebuilding took place which included "building" tunnels underneath the castle to be used as barracks and storage. Further tunnels were made during the early stages of WW II and they were used extensively during that time.
The multi-media tour through the tunnel taught us about Operation Dynamo which involved evacuating soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940. Now, you don't tend to think of a massive retreat as being a success; however, the British Expeditionary Force had been cut off. Over 300,000 were evacuated.
lone seagull on the rooftop outside the tunnel exit
view of the cliffs and the port of Dover from the Admiralty Lookout
view of the main castle and Great Tower -- one of the last rectangular keeps
Alex manning the lookout
and on the throne
looking back at the church and pharos
strong seaside breeze snapping the Union Jack
up on the roof top, looking out
After the castle, we headed to the National Trust Visitor's Centre (link) for a walk along the cliffs. Now, as you can imagine, the best way to see the cliffs is not to walk on top of them. That would be from the sea or air like the photos (snagged from the web) below:
However, it was such a nice day and I figured we see a little bit of the cliffs so off we went. Our destination was the South Foreland Lighthouse 2 miles down.
ready, set, go
to prove that I actually went as well
a little hard to tell, but this is a fairly significant "crater" along the way (we took that route on the way back)
different cliff (same family)
and the lighthouse -- notice all the kites to the right (those aren't bugs)
Father and Son and a rare moment to soak up some Vitamin D -- ah, the good life
my view from my resting spot
after a rest and some ice cream, we are on our way back
one of the better cliff views along the walk
Funny note: both Kuk and Nicole's mobile phones sent them a text while on the walk. Kuk was welcomed to France; Nicole, Belgium. I guess the international border isn't too far out in the water and the phone coverage got confused.
We had another nice meal once we made it back to Canterbury. This was at Pinocchio's. Good food, good service. Two for two.
veal and eggplant for me
pasta with clams for Kuk
As always, we wish we had more time but we were glad to go even with a 3-day weekend. The weather was great and we had a good time. We realize that there is so much more to see in Kent, but we can't see it all, at least not this weekend. Hopefully, we can return.
Thanks for reading and have a good week everyone. I've got some Canterbury Tales to read . . .