Late Friday evening, November 4th, 2011 Canterbury
Music filled the air under the vaulted ceilings in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral tonight and Nancy and I were enthralled by the sounds. It’s nearly midnight as I sit in my attic room on the third floor of the old building with a view of the spires of the Cathedral outside my window. Nancy and Barbara are in the new main building tonight, much the same view, but being on the first floor of their building just doesn’t give them the same perspective that I’m enjoying.
Our day began early this morning when we met for breakfast in the dining room; the largest selection of food that we’ve seen on this entire trip all set out buffet style. The only thing that wasn’t perfect was the hot chocolate for the girls…it wasn’t on the menu and therefore wasn’t quite what they’d expected. My coffee was delicious!
About 10 am we all walked over to the Cathedral for our first view of the inside; the fee for entrance is included in our room fees. Nancy and I walked the length of the Cathedral…longer than any other we think…maybe not as wide but definitely longer. We’ve discovered that the Archbishop of Canterbury is actually like the Pope and head of the Anglican Church. He doesn’t have any part of running this particular church; most of his time is spent in London.
Back to the hotel to sort our laundry…yes…it’s laundry day finally! We dropped Barbara at the hairdressers and we walked to the Laundromat; about ten minutes away. Along the way we walked part of the wall that surrounds the old city. Doing three loads of laundry took twenty two pounds and a little over two hours but it sure is nice to have some clean clothes. A small dog (a Jack Russell I think) with his owner kept us entertained as we all did our laundry.
At three we all headed out of the church grounds (remember our hotel is located within the church grounds) and enjoyed a delicious late lunch at the Old Butter Market restaurant before having some fun in the Cooking Shop next door. Both of these are located in the square outside of the Church Gate. The Fudge Shop was next for some desserts and then Nancy and I hurried back to the Cathedral to finish our touring. We walked the Cloister, stopping in the Chapter House; and then finished the Crypt before leaving the Cathedral at the closing time of 4:30 pm. As we were leaving we saw a man who looked just like the Archbishop of Canterbury. I asked a clerk and she said possibly it could be him as he has been in town this week. We were very excited.
At 5:30 we were all back in the Cathedral for Evensong Service in the Quire of the church. It was a forty five minute service complete with a full choir of a dozen men and eighteen boys from ages 8 (or so) to probably fourteen. They were all decked out in their choir robes and it was so difficult not to sneak a photo but I was good and controlled by urges. Accompanied by the massive organ their voices soared up into the high vaulted ceilings. We did see our possible Archbishop again and on the way out Nancy spoke to him. Not the Archbishop we discovered; he’d grown his beard so that he would look like Brahms. Oh well….
Back to our rooms and then a quick trip to McDonalds that is about four blocks away for some fast dinners for all of us. Then back to the Cathedral for Nancy and myself; we decided to attend the Advent Concert in the Crypt this evening.
Hanging in the Crypt is the body of a man made of nails that were recovered during repair work in the original part of the Cathedral. Definitely square nails, handmade, and according to a parishioner next to us…traceable back to medieval times. The artist is Anthony Gormley and the piece was done in 2010 and is called Transport.
The Advent Concert tonight featured a young girl in her late teens that played the violin, the harp and sang like an angel. Her mother was the featured Soprano and there were two other singers with them plus the piano player. The program featured various selections from “The Marriage of Figaro”, “La Boheme” and other operas. The pianist played “Automne” as a solo. We had Christmas Carols and more. The program was a fund raiser for one of the churches charities and lasted about an hour and a half; a wonderful way to spend an evening.
An added touch of excitement happened just before the Intermission; we heard loud booming noises. We were told that they were fireworks being set off in the Cricket Field in honor of tomorrow, November 5th, to celebrate the date that Guy Fawkes tried to burn down parliament hundreds of years ago. At Leeds Castle yesterday we saw them preparing for a fireworks display there so it must be happening all over England this weekend!
Now you can see why I didn’t rush to type this tonight. It was an exciting and wonderful day in Canterbury and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our special day. Tomorrow we move further south for our final “unplanned” day and then it’s Sunday in Rye at the Mermaid Hotel.