The Cathedral has been a place of worship for more than 1,400 years. There is much to discover and explore, and on these pages we can only give you a glimpse into the Cathedral’s rich history, its collections and the conservation of this great holy place.
The Cathedral is often described as ‘England in stone’ as its history is intrinsically linked to the country’s history. From its first Archbishop, Augustine, who established Christianity in England to Archbishop Langton’s role in the Magna Carta negotiations and the power struggle between King Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket, Canterbury Cathedral’s history is as rich as it comes.
St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 597AD. He came from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory the Great. It is said that Gregory had been struck by the beauty of Angle slaves he saw for sale in the city market and despatched Augustine and some monks to convert them to Christianity.
Augustine was given a church at Canterbury (St Martin’s, after St Martin of Tours, still standing today) by the local King, Ethelbert whose Queen, Bertha, a French Princess, was already a Christian.
This building had been a place of worship during the Roman occupation of Britain and is the oldest church in England still in use.
For more information, visit the website