25 December: Canterbury Cathedral

Every day throughout Advent, we'll be introducing a different cathedral from around the UK and occasionally beyond

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Denomination: Anglican

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Building began: 1070

About the cathedral

Impressive in terms of both size and aesthetics, Canterbury Cathedral is both the oldest place of Christian worship in England and also seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior bishop of the Church of England. The most celebrated Archbishop is undoubtedly Thomas à Becket, who was murdered in the building in December 1170. His shrine was the destination of the band of pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the late 14th century, and continues to attract visitors in their thousands to this day. Canterbury is not just about St Thomas, however, and other points of interest include the tomb of the Black Prince (the much admired son of Edward III) and the crypt, complete with 12th-century wall paintings.

Did you know?

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Among those to have sung as trebles in Canterbury Cathedral Choir is Harry Christophers, founder and director of The Sixteen, who was a chorister here in the 1960s. When, in 2000, The Sixteen went on its first ever Choral Pilgrimage tour, the route took in cathedrals across the country, beginning in York and ending, appropriately, in Canterbury itself.