A few years ago during a visit to London Brian and I took a day trip to Canterbury. Our intent on the trip was to visit an ancient cathedral and see the spot where a famous Archbishop was murdered. What we discovered was an ancient walled village alla Dickens, with tudoresque buildings and cobbled streets, this village was dominated by a cathedral that is one of the oldest active churches in the world. Now the history in Canterbury is epic, anyone recall high school English class ? The recommended readings by Chaucer ?? Well this is that city, a city countless pilgrims walked hundreds of miles to pay homage to a murdered Archbishop, who has since become a saint.
We didn't really understand what old was until we entered the cathedral and saw this plaque. Humbling to say the least, these are names that passed through our heads as we walked through those hallowed halls. Goderic ??? Hey didn't he go to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ?
There are too many highlights to cover in a short and fluffy blog post but two that really stand out are the spot where Saint Thomas Becket was hacked down by King Henry II's free ranging knights. After being overheard to say "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest ?" These said knights took it upon themselves to storm the Cathedral and cut him down on this very spot.
We were left speechless by this next highlight. A grouping of stain glass depicting the miracles preformed by Saint Thomas Becket. Staring into craftsmen ship from the 12th century was very moving, this pane especially brought the Canterbury Tales to life for me, pilgrims headed to Canterbury to pay homage to the fallen Saint.
Each year around this time it is inevitable that the topic is raised, "Christmas in Canterbury ?". We had vowed after hearing vespers sung by the choir in that enormous medieval cathedral, and after walking through the storybook streets that this town would be the perfect place to spend Christmas.
I imagine a light snow falling, and the gas street lights sending halos of light through the falling snow, Christmas carols just barely audible in the background. Did I just see Bob Cratchet running home ? A warm thick mug of dark beer in the Blind Dog pub to wash down the piping hot steak and ale pie, perfection. Oh yes its on the bucket list. Not this year but its just within reach, right here in my imagination.
Happy Christmas !
God bless us, everyone !