Like our trip to Scarborough, we spent a few weeks in London because Derek was working on a client there. Since we were already two hours further south, we took a train from London to the southeast thereby saving us some time, taking advantage of our situation, and giving us the chance to see something we may not have seen.
The white cliffs of Dover are stunning, but I’m pretty sure on top of them wasn’t the best view. However, our little memory-building family hike in the sun by the sea was great. We walked from the cliffs to the castle. Dover Castle has tunnels carved out of the chalk cliffs that were used in several wars, but the multimedia tour in the tunnel focuses more on their strategic usage in WWII.
I find this photo so powerful. Pictured are Nazi soldiers looking at the White Cliffs (near the top of the photo) just waiting for Hitler’s command to attack Britain. He called them off from being this close to focus their efforts elsewhere. It was the beginning of the end for Germany.
We didn’t have a lot of time after taking the tours of the tunnels before the buildings closed (although if that’s what we get for sitting in the sun by the sea, I’ll take it), but we did run through the great tower and some other parts of the castle.
We meandered our way back through the city center, grabbed our stuff from our B&B and hopped on a train to Canterbury.
The next morning we started our day at St. Augustine’s Abbey. We’ve learned a lot about Benedictine and Cistercian monks at Fountain’s abbey and others, so we only listened to some of the audio guide. I know Henry VIII is responsible for the ruin of a lot of the abbeys because of the role he played in the Reformation in England, but I hadn’t really understood why he tore every thing down (aside from money) until listening to this audio guide. Unfortunately now that I have sat down to write about it I can only remember that I finally learned about it and have now forgotten. This is why you should keep a journal, people! Oh well.
We walked through the main part of Canterbury to attend church as it was Sunday, then hurried back to the Cathedral as it was only open to tourists for a few hours.
Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral by 4 knights doing the bidding of Henry II, though there is as always some speculation as to what Henry really wanted to happen. oops. Though I think it played a big part in Canterbury’s fame.
By the way, I know of Canterbury best because of the tales, but it was also because it was a poor person’s Jerusalem. A pilgrimage point. If you were really wealthy, you’d go to Jerusalem, kinda rich you went to Rome (England was Catholic then), less than rich and you trekked to Canterbury as it was the seat of the Archbishop.
When doing some research for this weekend I read about a place that tells some of the Canterbury Tales. I’m not particularly familiar with the actual stories by Chaucer, but as we were in Canterbury this was the time to hear them! The Canterbury Tales as it’s called (descriptive, I know) had people acting as the storytellers, had some videos, some wax figures, and so on. It was totally cheesy, but we really enjoyed “going back in time” and hearing a few of the tales.
There were other things we easily could have taken the time to do in both Dover and Canterbury like the city museum or heritage center, but we took it slowly and had a really nice time overall.
WWII photo of Dover source.