Took a jaunt to Canterbury today and explored the town and the Cathedral. The library had an exhibition of the story of the Ladybird children’s books. Kathleen and I were impressed how the children, boys and girls were treated gender neutrally. Girls active, tomboyish even. After watching a program the night before on how most girl toys are pink these days it was a surprise. We have gone backwards!
The Cathedral is very impressive and I was further impressed by the art installations scattered around the interior.
It is of course a medieval church from 597 AD which became a place of pilgrimage after Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral in 1170 and soon after miracles were said to have occurred. At one stage 100,000 pilgrims came to visit in 1177. These pilgrims made the church wealthy and paid for the magnificent stained glass windows that tell the story of the miracles.
It is a massive construction and has a cloister and chapter house as well as the remains of the original Augustine monastery and its herb garden. There are extensive renovations being undertaken and it is an ongoing job conserving and repairing the building. It also has some of the oldest Christian wall paintings in the UK.
The art installations were all based around a theme of pilgrimage/refugees/unity. When we walked into the nave we saw a magnificent boat shaped ‘chandelier’ . It was awesome in the true sense of the word.
The installation of 100 clear glass amphorae, Boat of remembrance, commemorates 100 Years since 1918 and is a memorial for the people of all nationalities who died in the First World War. It also draws on the idea in Christianity that the Church is a place of sanctuary. The word nave comes from the Latin word for ship, navis.
Another impressive installation was the body of nails. Transport. The work is suspended above the first tomb of Thomas Becker. The body is less a thing but a place for feelings, thoughts, memory and introspection like the Cathedral.
The story of St Eustace painted on the wall
For my final night we went to dinner in a newish bistro in Deal. The food was well cooked but not very imaginative and the wait staff lacked polish. It was a bit disappointing. Then we went across the road to a little wine bar where the service was very good and the atmosphere was more relaxed.
Need to be away early tomorrow so it wasn’t a late night.