Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Monday, July 7, 2014

A visit to Canterbury


7 July, 2014, London: The name Canterbury was introduced early in life thanks to Chaucers's Canterbury Tales. Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city in south east England, some 87 kilometres from London, in Kent district close to river Stour. Canterbury is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside Canterbury Cathedral
We decided to go to Canterbury on Sunday the 6th of July. During my earlier trips to London the idea of visiting Canterbury was always there in my mind but it somehow never happened. This time it was my resolve to end the jinx. Thanks to Rinku Dutt and her husband Rane who made our Canterbury trip a memorable one. Rane aka Nilan is a doctor in Canterbury and Rinku invited us to Canterbury when we met her at Dartington a week or two back.
We took to the road and drove from London to Canterbury. It was pouring when we got down at Canterbury and had to buy an umbrella just before entering the church.
I visited the Canterbury Cathedral which is one of the oldest and most famous Christian edifices in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site
It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, and the symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The formal title is Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury.
Founded in 597 AD when St Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great, as a missionary, established his seat (Cathedra) in Canterbury. 
In front of the famous candle that burns perpetually
The Cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. In 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and ever since, the Cathedral has attracted thousands of pilgrims, as told famously in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
In late fourteenth century, parts were demolished to make way for the present structures.
A major conservation effort has been on to maintain the cathedral in its pristine form. The cathedral is full of history and fascinating stories abound. 
In 2000 an International Study Centre was opened in the precincts. The cathedral has over 2000 square metres of stained glass and also houses a stained glass studio. There is a candle that burns perpetually as "A reminder of prisoners of conscience and all those who suffer unjustly for their beliefs and and action."
In front of Five Bells Inn
A library with huge collection of books on church history, theology and other old Christian publications. Canterbury Cathedral Archives holds a wealth of manuscripts, photographs, maps and other records dating back to the late 8th century. These make up an extraordinarily rich resource.
After the visit to the church we went for a half-an-hour drive into the rural interiors and to a small village in a remote hillside location called Brabourne.  
We had lunch in a pub called Five Bells Inn. The place epitomises the old-world charm of English country side folk culture and living i.e., fire place, wood-fired baking, local village produce and so on.
Pub of the year
This pub, despite being so much in the interiors, received the Pub of the Year Award 2013 by Kent Life. When we entered, the pub was full to its capacity. The menu was also very nicely designed. Meanwhile, the weather forecast came true and there was clear sunshine.
The Wimbledon fever was on and a television had its share of viewers inside the pub. So we decided to sit outside. The food served was excellent and made our day. The menu was also very unique.
While returning, I was thinking about the ghost stories linked to this old church town. There aren't many Indians in Canterbury, but thanks to Rinku and Rane and to Soumilya and Sangeeta Datta who not only drove us from London to Canterbury but were also instrumental in initiating the trip that was long due.
ess bee

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