Thursday, May 12, 2016

#CanterburyTales A Day trip from London #PhotoFriday

April was a busy month, and a day away from chaotic London was just what the doctor had ordered.

A day away from my 9-5 work routine, a day amidst nature, getting caught in the rain, playing hide and seek with the sun, rejuvenating and getting inspired by medieval history.

So on a wet Saturday afternoon, instead of brooding and staying in in our pyjamas, we decided to hop on to the high speed javelin trains from St Pancras and head to the city that inspired Geoffrey Chaucer’s classic book - The Canterbury Tales.

Canterbury, famous for its ancient cathedral - a UNESCO World Heritage, is the first sight one sees as they enter the city. We were fascinated by the looming sights of the cathedral as we walked down the high street.

Founded in 597 AD by missionary St Augustine, and rebuilt by the Saxons and Normans over the years, the church offers curious tales both in terms of architecture and history. The most intriguing tale being the death of Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket by King Henry II.

In 1164, King Henry II had proposed the Constitutions of Clarendon - a composition of 16 articles which laid out the degree to which church members were subservient to the crown and the English legal custom. This attempt of his to exert state control over the Church in England was met with strong opposition by Thomas Becket who refused to sign the Constitutions of Claredon. King Henry's words of fury “Will no-one rid me of this turbulent Priest“? then compelled 4 loyal knights to head to Canterbury and murder Thomas Becket.

After his death, people traveled from far and wide to visit the spot of his death and pay tribute at his shrine. And thus rose the fame of Tomas Becket and the Canterbury church, and even today pilgrims visit the spot of martyrdom and the site of the former Shrine of Thomas Becket, now marked by a simple candle of remembrance.

Canterbury's Cathedral (as seen from entrance)
Shrine of Thomas Becket
An unusual clock on one of the walls, made to commemorate
the 1300th anniversary of St Augustine’s arrival in Anglo-Saxon England in 597AD

Beautiful stained windows
The gardens and precincts outside the church are as beautiful as the interiors. We spent about one and a half hours in the church admiring its magnificence.

Just outside the cathedral is the Old Buttermarket where I spotted a cute pottery shop. Established in 1963, Canterbury Pottery is run by Richard & Jan Chapman. We got a chance to speak to Richard who was in his workshop making pottery. He wasn't too keen on getting photographed but was friendly and welcomed us in to explore his shop.

They have a fantastic selection of handmade pots, tea cup planters, vases, cut out lanterns and other unique designs, all done in soft and earthy tones. For someone looking for a unique souvenir or wanting to add a dash of classic to their home decor, this shop is a must visit.

The rest of the evening was spent in walking along the River Stour and the city. We loved losing our way and walking into narrow streets and getting amazed by the colourful and interesting sights.

We also walked past the quirky bookshop, Catching Lives Books, which is famous for its 17th century crooked door. Also known as Sir John Boys House, the inscription on the top says,
"..a very old house bulging over the road…leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below..." Charles Dickens, 1849

Rings any bell? It is said that Dickens who penned the above lines in his novel David Copperfield, was inspired by the skewed facade of this building. The feeling that comes when one is standing before the very same building that might have been Charles Dicken's inspiration for the residence of Agnes Wickfield - priceless!

As we left the winding streets behind us and boarded the train back to London, I felt a day was not enough to explore this gem of a city. Many more hidden courtyards, secret passages, bits of Victorian stories lurking behind a wooden door and ancient ruins were waiting to be discovered, and I know there will be a second post on the Canterbury Tales soon.


  1. Nice to know the history of the place, I like to relate to such history. So many different frames from your trip, enjoyed seeing them all.
    Haapy PF!

  2. Lovely pictures, Aditi! And thank you for sharing all the history behind Canterbury.

  3. Canterbury Cathedral's on my bucket list, and I absolutely lovebthis preview! :D

  4. Canterbury Tales is one of my favorite books. It's nice to see the actual place.

  5. Aditi this was such a visual treat! Lucky girl you got to see this lovely place. The stained glass work, the cathedral, the pottery store and the crooked house....what treats dearie! Thanks for sharing this!

  6. I'm glad you could escape the daily grind for a few days and enjoy some down-time. These photos are lovely - the blossoms are gorgeous and I love that 'wonky' door - so cute! Thank you for the kind comments on my last post too. - Tasha

  7. What a great way to spend a Saturday! I cannot start to describe what I like most of this city because to be honest I like everything you have posted. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  8. Lovely images there. Glad you had a great trip. place looks interesting through your lens

  9. Wow, what a way to spend time. Looks like a trip out of a book. Fabulous Aditi! Those doors, the colors, the cathedral, the fallen petals - gorgeous is an understatement. This goes on my list when I visit London :)

  10. The weekend trips are better ways to explore a city and unknown places. Nice write up.

  11. Lovely shots of this historic place!

  12. Aahh.. these pictures make me want to visit the place right now. Thank you for sharing the history too. It was very interesting to know. :)

  13. Beautiful pictures Aditi and very interesting history.Can well imagine what an amazing experience this visit must have been

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