Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine's Abbey and St. Martin's Church

Overview

Heritage Category: World Heritage Site

List Entry Number: 1000093

Date first listed: 1988

Date of most recent amendment: 2008

Map

Ordnance survey map of Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine's Abbey and St. Martin's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1000093 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 11:59:51.

Summary

Canterbury, in Kent, has been the seat of the spiritual head of the Church of England for nearly five centuries. Canterbury's other important monuments are the modest Church of St Martin, the oldest church in England; the ruins of the Abbey of St Augustine, a reminder of the saint's evangelizing role in the Heptarchy from 597; and Christ Church Cathedral, a breathtaking mixture of Romanesque and Perpendicular Gothic, where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170.

This site is a cultural site in England. It is located at N51 16 48 E1 4 60 and measures 18 hectares.

There is a World Heritage Site Management Plan (2001) for the site and there is a part time World Heritage Site coordinator responsible for implementing the objectives and action plan. A Steering Group made up of key stakeholders provides a strategic forum and oversees World Heritage activities.

Statement of Significance

St Martin's Church, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey, and Christ Church Cathedral together reflect milestones in the history of Christianity in Britain. They reflect in tangible form:

The reintroduction of Christianity to southern Britain by St Augustine, commencing at St Martin's Church where Queen Bertha already worshipped, and leading to the conversion of King Ethelbert.

The successive architectural responses to Canterbury's developing role as focus of the Church in England - adaptation of Roman buildings, the development of Anglo-Saxon building in mortared brick and stone, and the flowering of Romanesque and Gothic.

The development, under St Augustine and the monks from Rome, of early Benedictine monasticism, which spread from its cradle in Canterbury throughout Britain and had a profound impact on English society.

The Abbey scriptorium, which was one of the great centres of insular book production, and whose influence extended far beyond the boundaries of Kent and Northumbria. The development of literacy, education, and scholarship at the Abbey meant that Canterbury became the most important medieval centre of learning in the country.

Canterbury's importance as a pilgrimage centre based on Augustine and its other early saints was transformed by the murder and canonization of Archbishop Thomas Becket, whose Cathedral shrine attracted pilgrims from all over Europe.

The wealth and power of the Cathedral in the 12th century, when the offerings of large numbers of pilgrims helped the building of the magnificent enlargement of the east end, with its exceptional stained glass windows and the rebuilding of the choir and transepts following the fire of 1174. These features form one of the finest examples of Early Gothic art.

The Cathedral's rich panorama of Romanesque, early Gothic, and late Gothic art and architecture.

The establishment of Canterbury as the seat of the spiritual leader of the Church of England.

Criterion (i): Christ Church Cathedral, especially the east sections, is a unique artistic creation. The beauty of its architecture is enhanced by a set of exceptional early stained glass windows which constitute the richest collection in the United Kingdom.

Criterion (ii): The influence of the Benedictine abbey of St Augustine was decisive throughout the High Middle Ages in England. The influence of this monastic centre and its scriptorium extended far beyond the boundaries of Kent and Northumbria.

Criterion (vi): St Martin's Church, St Augustine's Abbey, and the Cathedral are directly and tangibly associated with the history of the introduction of Christianity to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Criteria

This entry is compiled from information provided by UNESCO who hold the official record for all World Heritage Sites at their Paris Head Quarters. This entry is provided for information only and those requiring further assistance should contact the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO.

Criterion (i): Christ Church Cathedral, especially the east sections, is a unique artistic creation. The beauty of its architecture is enhanced by a set of exceptional early stained glass windows which constitute the richest collection in the United Kingdom.

Criterion (ii): The influence of the Benedictine abbey of St Augustine was decisive throughout the High Middle Ages in England. The influence of this monastic centre and its scriptorium extended far beyond the boundaries of Kent and Northumbria.

Criterion (vi): St Martin's Church, St Augustine's Abbey, and the Cathedral are directly and tangibly associated with the history of the introduction of Christianity to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

End of official listing