Canterbury, Kent, England

[ Photo Blog #58 ]

Canterbury is a cathedral city of great historical importance in the history of the British Isles.  It is situated in the county of Kent in south-east England, and, following the murder of Thomas à Becket in the cathedral in 1170, it has been a highly significant place of pilgrimage.  Ancient walls, originally built by the Romans, encircle the medieval centre of the city, and many cobbled streets and timber-framed houses remain.  The Cathedral, founded in 597 A.D., is the headquarters of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.  It incorporates both Gothic and Romanesque elements in its stone carvings and stained-glass windows.  The photographs below were all taken by me in and just off the main High Street on a visit in May 2003.

Canterbury 001

Queen Elizabeth’s Guest Chambers: The ornamental plaster work on the front of the building was done c. 1698.  The date of 1573 noted on the front of the building refers to the time Queen Elizabeth supposedly stayed here.

Canterbury 005

The old cemetery gate of Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury 006-River Stour

Canterbury’s Historic Tours on the River Stour – from the High Street Bridge

Canterbury 007

Canterbury’s Historic Tours on the River Stour

Canterbury 008

Canterbury’s Historic Tours on the River Stour – View

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Canterbury’s Historic Tours on the River Stour – View

Canterbury 012

View on the Canterbury’s Historic Tours on the River Stour

Canterbury 014-Bulkhead by Sculptor Rick Kirby

‘Bulkhead’ by Sculptor Rick Kirby outside the Marlowe Theatre

 

Canterbury 015-The Marlowe Mask

‘Bulkhead’ by Sculptor Rick Kirby outside the Marlowe Theatre

 

Canterbury 021-Plane Tree

Plane tree in the Westgate Gardens in Canterbury’.  The girth of the tree, measured at a height of 1.50 m, in May 2013, was 8.83 metres

Canterbury 023-Horse-drawn Carriage

Horse-drawn Carriage awaiting passengers just off the High Street, Canterbury

 

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The Man In The Iron Mask

maninmask-canterburyThis huge sculpture, with the name ‘Bulkhead’, was created in metal by Rick Kirby.  It first came to Canterbury as part of a sculpture festival called Blok.  The sculpture was so popular that Canterbury council bought it.  

At the time of my photograph, it stood outside Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre, until the theatre was demolished in 2009.  It has recently been returned to the new theatre in The Friars, but now stands by the river in the theatre’s newly-created outdoor seating area.  

The theatre takes its name from the fact that Christopher Marlowe, (1564 – 1593), the Elizabethan playwright, poet and translator, also known as Kit Marlowe , was born in the city of Canterbury.

The sculpture, of course, references  Greek Drama’s ‘Mask Of Tragedy’, this being pertinent to Marlowe’s great tragic dramas.  In subsequently thinking of the sculpture purely as a mask of iron, it then suggested to me Alexander Dumas'(1802 – 1870)  fictionalised story of ‘THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK’.   This is Dumas’ version of the story of  the unidentified prisoner who, in the 17th Century was arrested, made to wear an iron mask, and subsequently imprisoned for 34 years.   As a nod to Dumas, if not to Marlowe, I have taken the liberty of inserting a ‘man’ into the eye of the Bulkhead sculpture  (see below).  

maninmask