THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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CANTERBURY, a city and county of a city, the metropolis of an archdiocese of the Church of England, and a municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Kent, England, 62 m. E.S.E, of London by the South-Eastern & Chatham railway. Pop. (1901) 24,889. It lies on the river Stour, which here debouches from a beautiful narrow valley of the North Downs, the low but abrupt elevations of which command fine views of the city from the west and south, while the river presently enters upon the flat belt of land which separates the elevated Isle of Thanet from the rest of Kent. This belt represents the existence, in early historic times, of a sea-strait, and Fordwich, little more than 2 m. north-east of Canterbury, was once accessible for shipping. The city surrounds the precincts of the great cathedral.

The Cathedral.—It was to Canterbury, as the capital of Aethelberht, the fourth Saxon king of Kent, that in 597 Augustine and his fellow-missionaries came from Rome, and their settlement by Aethelberht in his capital became the origin of its position, held ever since, as the metropolis of the Church of England. Aethelberht, whose queen, Bertha, was already a Christian, gave the missionaries a church whose mythical founder was King Lucius. Augustine was a Benedictine and established the monastery of that order attached to the cathedral; this foundation was set upon a firm basis after the Norman Conquest by Archbishop Lanfranc, who placed its charge (as distinct from that of the diocese) in the hands of a prior.

Preparatory to the description of the cathedral, the principal epochs in the history of its erection may be noted. The Romano-British church occupied by St Augustine, of basilica form, remained long in use, though it was largely History of the building. rebuilt by Archbishop Odo, c. 950; after further vicissitudes it was destroyed by fire in 1067. Archbishop Lanfranc, taking up his office in 1070, undertook the building of an entirely new church, but under Anselm (c. 1100) Prior Ernulf rebuilt the eastern part, and his successor Conrad carried on the work. A fire destroyed much of this part of the building in 1174, and from that year the architect, William of Sens, took up the work of rebuilding until 1178, when, on his suffering serious injury by falling from a scaffold, another William, commonly distinguished as the Englishman, carried on the work and completed it in 1184. In 1376 Archbishop Sudbury entered upon the construction of a new nave, and Prior Chillenden continued this under Archbishop Courtenay. The building of the central tower was undertaken c. 1495 by Prior Goldstone, with the counsel of Selling, his predecessor, and Archbishop Morton.

This Perpendicular tower is the most notable feature of the exterior. It rises in two storeys to a height of 235 ft. from the ground, and is known variously as Bell Harry tower from the great bell it contains, or as the Angel steeple Exterior. from the gilded figure of an angel which formerly adorned the summit. The Perpendicular nave is flanked at the west front by towers, whose massive buttresses, rising in tiers, serve to enhance by contrast the beautiful effect of the unbroken straight lines of Bell Harry tower. The south-western of these towers is an original Perpendicular structure by Prior Goldstone, while the north-western was copied from it in 1834-1840, replacing a Norman tower which had carried a spire until 1705 and had become unsafe. The north-west and south-west transepts are included in Chillenden’s Perpendicular reconstruction; but east of these earlier work is met with. The south-east transept exhibits Norman work; the projecting chapel east of this is known as Anselm’s tower. The cathedral terminates eastward in a graceful apsidal form, with the final addition of the circular eastern chapel built by William the Englishman, and known as the Corona or Becket’s Crown. St Andrew’s tower or chapel on the north side, corresponding to Anselm’s on the south, is the work of Ernulf. From this point westward the various monastic buildings adjoin the cathedral on the north side, so that the south side is that from which the details of the exterior must be examined.

When the nave of the cathedral is entered, the complete separation of the interior into two main parts, not only owing to the distinction between the two main periods of building; but by an actual structural arrangement, Interior. is realized as an unusual and, as it happens, a most impressive feature. In most English cathedrals the choir is separated from the nave by a screen; at Canterbury not only is this the case, but the separation is further marked by a broad flight of steps leading up to the screen, the choir floor (but not its roof) being much higher than that of the nave. Chillenden, in rebuilding the nave, retained only the lower parts of some of the early Norman walls of Lanfranc and the piers of the central tower arches. These piers were encased or altered on Perpendicular lines. In the choir, the late 12th-century work of the two Williams, the notable features are its great length, the fine ornamentation and the use of arches both round and pointed, a remarkable illustration of the transition between the Norman and Early English styles; the prolific use of dark marble in the shafts and mouldings strongly contrasting with the light stone which is the material principally used; and, finally, the graceful incurve of the main arcades and walls at the eastern end of the choir where it joins the chapel of the Trinity, an arrangement necessitated by the preservation of the earlier flanking chapels or towers of St Anselm and St Andrew. From the altar eastward the floor of the church is raised again above that of the choir. The choir screen was built by Prior de Estria, c. 1300. The organ is not seen, being hidden in the triforium and played from the choir. There are several tombs of archbishops in the choir. The south-east transept serves as the chapel of the King’s school and exhibits the work of William of Sens in alteration of that of Ernulf. Anselm’s chapel or tower, already mentioned, may be noticed again as containing a Decorated window (1336). This style is not common in the cathedral.

Behind the altar is Trinity Chapel, in the centre of which stood the celebrated shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury. The priory owed its chief fame to the murder of Archbishop Becket (1170) in the church, his canonization as St Becket’s shrine. Pilgrimages. Thomas of Canterbury, and the resort of the Christian world on pilgrimage to his shrine. Miracles were almost immediately said to be worked at his grave in the crypt and at the well in which his garments had been washed; and from the time when Henry II. did his penance for the murder in the church, and the battle of Alnwick was gained over the Scots a few days afterwards—it was supposed as a result—the 211 fame of the martyr’s power and the popularity of his worship became established in England. On the rebuilding of the cathedral after the fire of 1174, a magnificent shrine was erected for him in Trinity Chapel, which was built for the purpose, and became thronged for three centuries by pilgrims and worshippers of all classes, from kings and emperors downward. Henceforward the interests of the city became bound up in those of the cathedral, and were shown in the large number of hostels for the accommodation of pilgrims, and of shops containing wares especially suited to their tastes. A pilgrimage to Canterbury became not only a pious exercise, but a favourite summer excursion; and the poet Chaucer, writing in the 14th century, gives an admirable picture of such pilgrimages, with the manners and behaviour of a party of pilgrims, leisurely enjoying the journey and telling stories on the road. The English language even preserved two words originating in these customs—a “canterbury,” or a “canterbury tale,” a phrase used for a fiction, and a “canter,” which is a short form for a “canterbury gallop,” an allusion to the easy pace at which these pilgrimages were performed. The shrine with its vast collected wealth was destroyed, and every reminiscence connected with it as far as possible effaced, by King Henry VIII.’s commissioners in 1538. But some of the beautiful old windows of stained glass, illustrating the miracles wrought in connexion with the saint, are preserved. The north-west transept was the actual scene of Becket’s murder; the spot where he fell is shown on the floor, but this part of the building is of later date than the tragedy.

Close to the site of the shrine is the fine tomb of Edward the Black Prince, with a remarkable portrait effigy, and above it his helmet, shield and other equipment. There is also in this chapel the tomb of King Henry IV. The Corona, at the extreme cast of the church, contains the so-called St Augustine’s chair in which the archbishops are enthroned. It is of marble, but its name is not deserved, as it dates probably from c. 1200. The western part of the crypt, beneath the choir, is the work of Ernulf, and perhaps incorporates some of Lanfranc’s work. The chapel of St John or St Gabriel, beneath Anselm’s tower, is still used for service, in which the French language is used; it was devoted to this purpose in 1561, on behalf of French Protestant refugees, who were also permitted to carry on their trade as weavers in the crypt. The eastern and loftier part of the crypt, with its apsidal termination, is the work of William the Englishman. Here for some time lay the body of Becket, and here the celebrated penance of Henry II. was performed.

The chief entrance to the precincts is through an ornate gateway at the south-west, called Christchurch gateway, and built by Prior Goldstone in 1517. Among the remains of the monastic buildings there may be mentioned the Monastic buildings. Norman ruins of the infirmary, the fine two-storeyed treasury and the lavatory tower, Norman in the lower part and Perpendicular in the upper. The cloisters are of various dates, containing a little rich Norman work, but were very largely rebuilt by Prior Chillenden. The upper part of the chapter-house is also his work, but the lower is by Prior de Estria. The library is modern. The site of the New Hall of the monastery is covered by modern buildings of King’s school, but the Norman entry-stair is preserved—a magnificent example of the style, with highly ornate arcading.

The principal dimensions of the cathedral arc: length (outside) 522 ft., nave 178 ft., choir 180 ft. The nave is 71 ft. in breadth and 80 ft. in height.

The archbishop of Canterbury is primate of all England; the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury covers England Province and diocese. and Wales south of Cheshire and Yorkshire; and the diocese covers a great part of Kent with a small part of Sussex. The following is a list of archbishops of Canterbury:—

 1. Augustine, 597 to 605. 49. John Peckham, 1279 to 1292.
 2. Lawrence (Laurentius), 605 to 619. 50. Robert Winchelsea, 1293 to 1313.
 3. Mellitus, 619 to 624. 51. Walter Reynolds, 1313 to 1327.
 4. Justin. 624 to 627. 52. Simon de Meopham, 1328 to 1333.
 5. Honorius, 627 to 653. 53. John Stratford, 1333 to 1348.
 6. Deusdedit (Frithona), 655 to 664. 54. John de Ufford, 1348 to 1349.
 7. Theodore, 668 to 690. 55. Thomas Bradwardin, 1349.
 8. Brethwald (Berhtuald), 693 to 731. 56. Simon Islip, 1349 to 1366.
 9. Taetwine. 731 to 734. 57. Simon Langham, 1366 to 1368.
10. Nothelm, 734 to 740. 58. William Whittlesea, 1368 to 1374.
11. Cuthbert, 740 to 758. 59. Simon Sudbury, 1375 to 1381.
12. Breogwine, 759 to 762. 60. William Courtenay, 1381 to 1396.
13. Jaenberht, 763 to 790. 61. Thomas Arundel, 1396 to 1414.
14. Aethelhard, 790 to 803. 62. Henry Chicheley, 1414 to 1443.
15. Wulfred, 803 to 829. 63. John Stafford, 1443 to 1452.
16. Fleogild, 829 to 830. 64. John Kemp, 1452 to 1454.
17. Ceolnoth, 830 to 870. 65. Thomas Bourchier, 1454 to 1486.
18. Aethelred, 870 to 889. 66. John Morton, 1486 to 1500.
19. Plegemund, 889 to 914. 67. Henry Dean (Dene), 1501 to 1503.
20. Aethelm, 914 to 923. 68. William Warham, 1503 to 1532.
21. Wulfelm, 923 to 942. 69. Thomas Cranmer, 1533 to 1556.
22. Odo, 942 to 959. 70. Reginald Pole, 1556 to 1558.
23. Aelsine, 959. 71. Matthew Parker, 1559 to 1575.
24. Dunstan, 960 to 988. 72. Edmund Grindal, 1575 to 1583.
25. Aethelgar, 988 to 989. 73. John Whitgift, 1583 to 1604.
26. Sigeric, 990 to 994. 74. Richard Bancroft, 1604 to 1610.
27. Aelfric, 995 to 1005. 75. George Abbot, 1610 to 1633.
28. Alphege (Aelfeah), 1005 to 1012. 76. William Laud, 1633 to 1645.
29. Lyfing, 1013 to 1020. 77. William Juxon, 1660 to 1663.
30. Aethelnoth, 1020 to 1038. 78. Gilbert Sheldon, 1663 to 1677.
31. Eadsige, 1038 to 1050. 79. William Sancroft, 1678 to 1691.
32. Robert of Jumièges, 1051 to 1052. 80. John Tillotson, 1691 to 1694.
33. Stigand, 1052 to 1070. 81. Thomas Tenison, 1694 to 1715.
34. Lanfranc, 1070 to 1089. 82. William Wake, 1716 to 1737.
35. Anselm, 1093 to 1109. 83. John Potter, 1737 to 1747.
36. Ralph de Turbine, 1114 to 1122. 84. Thomas Herring, 1747 to 1757.
37. William de Corbeuil (Curbellio), 1123 to 1136. 85. Matthew Hutton, 1757 to 1758.
38. Theobald, 1139 to 1161. 86. Thomas Secker, 1758 to 1768.
39. Thomas Becket, 1162 to 1170. 87. Frederick Cornwallis, 1768 to 1783.
40. Richard, 1174 to 1184. 88. John Moore, 1783 to 1805.
41. Baldwin, 1185 to 1190. 89. Charles Manners-Sutton, 1805 to 1828.
42. Reginald Fitz-Jocelyn, 1191. 90. William Howley, 1828 to 1848.
43. Hubert Walter, 1193 to 1205. 91. John Bird Sumner, 1848 to 1862.
44. Stephen Langton, 1207 to 1228. 92. Charles Thomas Longley, 1862 to 1868.
45. Richard Wethershed, 1229 to 1231. 93. Archibald Campbell Tait, 1868 to 1882.
46. Edmund Rich (de Abbendon) 1234 to 1240. 94. Edward White Benson, 1882 to 1896.
47. Boniface of Savoy, 1241 to 1270. 95. Frederick Temple, 1896 to 1903.
48. Robert Kilwardby, 1273 to 1278. 96. Randall Thomas Davidson.

The archbishop has a seat at Lambeth Palace, London. There are fragments in Palace Street of the old archbishop’s palace which have been incorporated with a modern palace.

Other Ecclesiastical Foundations.—Canterbury naturally abounded in religious foundations. The most important, apart from the cathedral, was the Benedictine abbey of St Augustine. This was erected on a site granted by King Aethelberht outside his capital, in a tract called Longport. Augustine dedicated it to St Peter and St Paul, but Archbishop Dunstan added the sainted name of the founder to the dedication, and in common use it came to exclude those of the apostles. The site is now occupied by St Augustine’s Missionary College, founded in 1844 when the property was acquired by A.J.B. Beresford Hope. Some ancient remnants are preserved, the principal being the entrance gateway (1300), with the cemetery gate, dated a century later, and the guest hall, now the refectory; but the scanty ruins of St Pancras’ chapel are of high interest, and embody Roman material. The chapel is said to have received its dedication from St Augustine on account of the special association of St Pancras with children, and in connexion with the famous story of St Gregory, w hose attention was first attracted to Britain 212 when he saw the fair-faced children of the Angles who had been brought to Rome, and termed them “not Angles but angels.”

There were lesser houses of many religious orders in Canterbury, but only two, those of the Dominicans near St Peter’s church in St Peter’s Street, and the Franciscans, also in St Peter’s Street, have left notable remains. The Dominican refectory is used as a chapel. Among the many churches, St Martin’s, Longport, is of the first interest. This was the scene of the earliest work of Augustine in Canterbury, and had seen Christian service before his arrival. Its walls contain Roman masonry, but whether it is in part a genuine remnant of a Romano-British Christian church is open to doubt. There are Norman, Early English and later portions; and the font may be in part pre-Norman, and is indeed associated by tradition with the baptism of Aethelberht himself. St Mildred’s church exhibits Early English and Perpendicular work, and the use of Roman material is again visible here. St Paul’s is of Early English origin; St Dunstan’s, St Peter’s and Holy Cross are mainly Decorated and Perpendicular. The village of Harbledown, on the hill west of Canterbury on the London road, from the neighbourhood of which a beautiful view over the city is obtained, has many associations with the ecclesiastical life of Canterbury. It is mentioned by Chaucer in his pilgrimage under the name, appropriate to its site, of “Bob up and down.” The almshouses, which occupy the site of Lanfranc’s hospital for lepers, include an ancient hall and a chapel in which the west door and northern nave arcade are Norman, and are doubtless part of Lanfranc’s buildings. The neighbouring parish church is in great part rebuilt. Among the numerous charitable institutions in Canterbury there are several which may be called the descendants of medieval ecclesiastical foundations.

City Buildings, &c.—The old city walls may be traced, and the public walk called the Dane John (derived probably from donjon) follows the summit of a high artificial mound within the lines. The cathedral is finely seen from this point. Only the massive turreted west gate, of the later part of the 14th century, remains out of the former six city gates. The site of the castle is not far from the Dane John, and enough remains of the Norman keep to show its strength and great size. Among other buildings and institutions there may be mentioned the guildhall in High Street, of the early part of the 18th century; the museum, which includes a fine collection of local, including many Roman, relics; and the school of art, under municipal management, but founded by the painter T. Sidney Cooper (d. 1902), who was a resident at Harbledown. A modern statue of a muse commemorates the poet Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a native of the city; and a pillar indicates the place where a number of persons were burnt at the stake in the reign of Mary.

The King’s school, occupying buildings adjacent to the cathedral, developed out of the early teaching furnished by the monastery. It was refounded by Henry VIII. in 1541 (whence its name), and is managed on the lines of ordinary public schools. It has about 250 boys; and there is besides a junior or preparatory school. The school is still connected with the ecclesiastical foundation, the dean and chapter being its governors.

A noted occasion of festivity in Canterbury is the Canterbury cricket-week, when the Kent county cricket eleven engages in matches with other first-class teams, and many visitors are attracted to the city.

Canterbury has a considerable agriculture trade, breweries, tanneries, brickworks and other manufactures. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The city is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 3955 acres.

History of the City.—The existence of a Romano-British town on the site of Canterbury has already been indicated. It was named Durovernum, and was a flourishing county town on the road from the Kentish ports to London. Mosaic pavements and other remains have been found in considerable abundance. The city, known by the Saxons as Cantwaraburh, the town of the men of Kent, was the metropolis of Aethelberht’s kingdom. At the time of the Domesday survey Canterbury formed part of the royal demesne and was governed by a portreeve as it had been before the Conquest. In the 13th and 14th centuries, two bailiffs presided over the burghmote, assisted by a larger and smaller council. Henry II., by an undated charter, confirmed former privileges and granted to the citizens that no one should implead them outside the city walls and that the pleas of the crown should be decided according to the customs of the city. In 1256 Henry III. granted them the city at an annual fee farm of £60, also the right of electing their bailiffs. Confirmations of former charters with additional liberties were granted by later sovereigns, and Henry VI. incorporated Canterbury, which he called “one of our most ancient cities,” under the style of the mayor and commonalty, the mayor to be elected by the burgesses. James I. in 1609 confirmed these privileges, giving the burgesses the right to be called a body corporate and to elect twelve aldermen and a common council of twenty-four. Charles II., after calling in the charters of corporations, granted a confirmation in 1684. Canterbury was first represented in parliament in 1283, and it continued to return two members until 1885, when the number was reduced to one. A fair was granted by Henry VI. to the citizens to be held in the city or suburbs on the 4th of August and the two days following; other fairs were in the hands of the monasteries; the corn and cattle markets and a general market have been held by prescription from time immemorial. Canterbury was a great centre of the silk-weaving trade in the 17th century, large numbers of Walloons, driven by persecution to England, having settled there in the reign of Elizabeth. In 1676 Charles II. granted a charter of incorporation to the Walloon congregation under style of the master, wardens and fellowship of weavers in the city of Canterbury. The market for the sale of corn and hops was regulated by a local act in 1801.

See A.P. Stanley, Historical Memorials of Canterbury (London, 1855); J. Brent, Canterbury in the Olden Time (Canterbury, 1879); J.W. Legg and W.H. St J. Hope, Inventories of Christchurch, Canterbury (London, 1902); Victoria County History, Kent.


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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