The Oldest Church in England

>>  Wednesday, August 21, 2013

St Martin's in Canterbury is the oldest church building in England, still functioning as a church and the oldest church in continuous use in the English speaking world.   It was already an old church when Augustine came in AD 597.

 It is about a 15 minute walk out of Canterbury centre out past the Abbey.  It is only open at certain times,  so check the website before going. This is a 'working' parish church so I'd put money on (or at least into their collection box) that if you are coming a long way and are mad keen to get in, they would see if a church warden would open up at an agreed time or you could go at a service time and enjoy experiencing it's intended purpose.

It was the chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived. Queen Bertha was the wife of King Æthelberht of Kent. He was converted to Christianity.
This is a Chrismatory, it is a 14th century container for holy oils.  It was hidden in St Martins during the reformation and only found again in 1849.  Only 2 survived the Reformation.  It is a replica in the church, the original is on display in the cathedral crypt .
The font is such a key point in a church. It could tell you a thousand family stories.  King Ethlebert was probably baptised here.  Just shut your eyes, touch the stone and feel the history.  This actual font was made from a well head in the cathedral cloister some time between 1155 and 1165 so in terms of the life of the church, I guess it's quite new!

Do you ever sit in the pew of a church and imagine the people that went before you.  Through the last wars, though the Victorians, Georgians, the civil war, back to the plague years, all the prayers and thoughts that have welled up in those walls.

It's quite incredible.




We had a long wander around the church yard.  Mary Tourtel (Rupert bear) is buried here, and Hilare Countess Nelson (who married Horatio Nelson's brother and Jane Austin's Nephew but not at the same time.)
From the top of the churchyard you can see the daughter church of St Martin's - yes, that's Canterbury Cathedral. 


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