Published: 13:02, 21 July 2021
| Updated: 13:05, 21 July 2021
With centuries of tradition inside its walls, Canterbury Cathedral is one of Kent's most famous landmarks. But have you ever been inside? This summer could be the perfect time...
The Cathedral's history is often described as ‘England in stone’ as its history is linked so closely 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.
Last year was a significant year in its history as it marked 850 years since the dramatic murder of Archbishop, Thomas Becket and 800 years since his body was moved from a tomb in the Cathedral's Crypt to a shrine.
After his death miracles were said to take place, and Canterbury became one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage centres.
You may not be on your own pilgrimage, but you can still visit the site where such extraordinary events took place.
Despite the history, the Cathedral has also moved with the times, and this summer there are a range of family-friendly activities, and themed tours to try too.
And it's also a great time to visit in the summer holidays and beyond as there's a Kids Go Free offer running until Sunday, October 31.
Kids' activities include Gregory’s Hidden History Hunt. Gregory Gargoyle has hidden 10 of his favourite facts around The Precincts for young visitors to find.
Using Gregory’s map to track them down and answer Gregory’s Cathedral quiz. Completed quizzes returned to the shop can be used to claim a free Canterbury Cathedral pencil.
There will be stone masonry demonstrations in the Precincts on weekends from Monday, August 16 to Friday, August 27 to see carving skills in action up close, and there will be storytelling on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Tuesday, August 3 to Thursday, August 26.
Discovery days on Wednesdays from 10am to 3pm include learning about archaeology; medieval foods; shields and symbols, and animals within the archives.
There will also be three new exhibitions to see. The Oakeley Models in the Viewing Gallery will feature 1:720 scale replicas of famous cathedrals, crafted in cardboard and wood between 1840-1850, by model maker William Gorringe.
There will also be The Great British Fish and Chips Exhibition by artist Olivier Kugler and writer Andrew Humphreys, looking at one of the nation's favourite dishes.
You can also take a guided tour for £5 per person and new this year will be a 60-minute Precincts Tour on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, looking at the Cathedral's time during the reigns of Ethelbert, Bertha and our current Queen and
Monks, Maladies and Gardens on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday looking at the public gardens created over centuries.
Audio tour app
Discover the Cathedral’s unique history with a self-guided audio tour that you download to your phone. You will need to use your own headphones
With interactive activities, and unique behind-the-scenes material – including interviews with clergy, craftspeople and heritage specialists - the guide allows visitors to discover the Cathedral’s story like never before.
You can also stay for Choral Evensong between 5.30pm and 6.15pm. For more than 1,400 years, religious services have been held at the Cathedral and Evensong is a daily centuries-old tradition, with a world-class choir. All are welcome to attend.
There are longer opening hours during the summer, from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 12.30pm to 5pm on Sundays.
All events are in line with any guidelines in place at the time and could be subject to amendment or cancellation. Check the website for details here.
* Did you know Canterbury is a World Heritage city?
While there are less international visitors in the city, after visiting the Cathedral, head to the two other parts of Canterbury’s UNESCO World Heritage Site - St. Martin’s Church, the oldest church in England, and St Augustine’s Abbey, originally created as a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent, and a key site in the rebirth of Christianity after the departure of the Romans.