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Tony Grist

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Canterbury [Mar. 25th, 2005|08:49 am]
Tony Grist
Back in the day- when going on pilgrimage was the most fun you could have with your tabard on- Canterbury cathedral was England’s grandest theme park and money making machine. Then Henry VIII destroyed the shrine of Thomas Becket- which was the heart of the enterprise- and it was as like kicking the Mouse out of Disneyland. Before the Reformation Canterbury was one of the capital cities of the Christian imagination and afterwards it was just a provincial town with a big jagged building at its centre for storing battle-flags and burying soldiers in.

There’s a ghostliness about the cathedral, an emptiness. A guide who looked like a gentler, kinder Peter O’Toole latched onto me and told me a couple of the miracles of Thomas Becket. How a blinded thief got his sight back and changed his life, how a woman came all the way from Cologne to be cured of insanity. These stories, once compelling, have become quaint. According to the leaflet we were handed at the door it costs £9000 a day to maintain the building. Only our will sustains it. If we stopped finding it interesting, if the visitors stopped coming, it would crumble- settle like a cloud of suspended dust- and after a couple of hundred years there’d be nothing left but a clutch of broken pillars.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: aellia
2005-03-25 02:28 am (UTC)
If I hadn't been working,I could have met you there,it's only 8 miles from where I live.
Oh,how they extol the virtues of the Cradle of Christianity,and oh how they keep you away from some grisly parts of the city,
You wouldn't find a guide to show you around Martyr's Field.
Hope you enjoyed your day,did you see the Starbucks right next to the cathedral entrance?

http://historybitskent.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 01:59 am (UTC)
We avoided the Starbucks. We went to Cafe Nero instead! :)
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2005-03-26 03:25 am (UTC)
It was a crime getting rid of the nice old cafe that used to be there.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 09:54 am (UTC)
I was looking for the Shakespeare Inn. Has it gone, or was I looking on the wrong street?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 02:52 am (UTC)
I was at the University of Kent for three years back in the early 70s, so this was a sentimental return visit. Of course, when I was living in the city, I never bothered to do the tour of the cathdral.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2005-03-26 03:25 am (UTC)
Didn't you graduate there though?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 09:49 am (UTC)
Yes I did. I've got a BA in English and American literature
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[User Picture]From: cybersofa
2005-03-25 08:04 am (UTC)
The view of Bell Harry Tower, framed in the great South windows of the Dining Halls of the first two colleges (Eliot and Rutherford) of the University of Kent at Canterbury, is quite impressive (and so it should be, for £9,000 a day). I'm looking forward to copping it again in a fortnight at the university's 40th anniversary reunion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 02:55 am (UTC)
You were at UKC? Me too- 1969-72!
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[User Picture]From: cybersofa
2005-03-26 03:08 pm (UTC)
I was indeed, 1966 to 1969, made me what I am today, probably. You're not planning to attend the reunion thing, then? Or visit the campus on your current Kent trip? Probably wise. I visited about five years ago, and it's a very different place now. Hesitate to say worse - the university would obviously disagree - but I didn't like it much.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-25 08:07 am (UTC)
and after a couple of hundred years there’d be nothing left but a clutch of broken pillars.

And perhaps some ghost priests looking for their vestments.

How evocative--I grew up with a series of framed illustrations from the Canterbury Tales hanging in our various houses, so I got to wondering about the Wife of Bath and her friends. To see Canterbury, no matter how diminished in our day, would be thrilling.

(My brother loved Bath. He brought us all souvenirs. I got a bottle of water.)

Jackie, American



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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-25 08:35 am (UTC)
To see Canterbury, no matter how diminished in our day, would be thrilling.


I have to agree. Funny,there is much in our collective...memory?...that we really don't remember, but we know anyway.

uh...did that make any sense?
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-25 08:37 am (UTC)
Sure! I understood you perfectly.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 02:57 am (UTC)
My favourite English cathedral is wells- closely followed by Durham. Canterbury is very grand, but I don't feel any affection for it.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-03-25 08:47 am (UTC)
I guess it's not possible to have redundant cathedrals, is it? Only redundant churches.

Our neighborhood is about to turn a church into condos. Better that than tearing it down to make condos, I think -- at least they're saving the facade and the stained glass, which will be part of an atrium.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-25 09:05 am (UTC)
Last week I had lunch in a new downtown place called "The Mission". Our downtown isn't much,I admit, and I stay as far away from it as I can. Anyway, this place is an old church turned daycare center turned Mexican Restaurant. It a cold, sunny day. The food was good, I've had people tell me it's great Mexican food for the area we are in. But what I remember most about it was the sun through the stained glass windows, and reading on one of them "Given in memory of John Merrick by..." and thinking that John Merrick was the name of the elephant man...

.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-26 03:00 am (UTC)
I don't see why cathedrals shouldn't be declared redundant- some of them must have a terrible job making ends meet. But I guess it would involve wholescale reorganisation of the Church.
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