Saint Augustine is sent by Pope Gregory the Great to re-establish Christianity in England. He becomes the first Archbishop of Canterbury, establishing Canterbury as his ‘seat’ or ‘Cathedral’.
- Find out more about Saint Augustine
Canterbury is besieged by Vikings who are spending the winter on the Isle of Thanet.
Thorkell the Tall
A Viking called Thorkell the Tall and his army besiege Canterbury and kidnap the Archbishop, Alphege. The city and Cathedral are plundered and burned. Archbishop Alphege is held hostage in Greenwich, and killed by the Vikings. He becomes a Christian martyr.
- Discover more about the Vikings at Canterbury
King Canute orders that the remains of Archbishop Alphege are moved to Canterbury Cathedral.
Battle of Hastings
The Anglo-Saxons are defeated by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy becomes King of England.
A fire destroys the Saxon Cathedral.
Archbishop Lanfranc – the first Norman Archbishop – orders the Cathedral be rebuilt in the Norman Style, with the project completed in 1077.
- Discover more about Archbishop Lanfranc
Archbishop Thomas Becket is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four of King Henry II’s knights. He is buried in the Crypt and soon after his death, numerous healings and other miracles are reported. He is later made a saint. Canterbury Cathedral becomes an important and very popular place of pilgrimage.
- Find out more about Thomas Becket
A fire destroys much of the Cathedral. A Frenchman called William of Sens is asked to rebuild it.
Magna Carta is agreed by King John and his Barons at Runnymede, establishing the first constitutional document that formed the foundation of modern democracy.
Thomas Becket’s Bones
Thomas Becket’s bones are moved from his tomb in the Crypt to a new shrine in the Trinity Chapel. Thousands of people from Britain and Europe attend the event.
The Black Death
A great plague – later called The Black Death – sweeps the country. The city’s burial ground has to be enlarged to take the dead but most of the monks survive.
The Black Prince
Edward, the Black Prince, son of Edward III, and heir to the throne, is buried in Canterbury Cathedral and his arms and armour are hung above his tomb, now on display in the Crypt.
The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer begins writing The Canterbury Tales, a series of stories shared by a group of pilgrims as they travel together from London to the shrine of Thomas Becket.
King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII breaks with the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, establishing himself as the Supreme Head of the Church in England.
Canterbury Cathedral’s monastery is dissolved by royal command during the English Reformation, and its monks are forced to leave
- Find out more about the Reformation
The Cathedral’s interiors are damaged and ‘blasphemous art’ destroyed by the Puritans during the English Civil Wars. The building itself is threatened with demolition.
North West Tower
The North West Tower of the Cathedral is built. The Cathedral building now looks much like it does today.
During World War Two the Cathedral is protected by brave teams of firewatchers, who patrol the roofs and deal with the incendiary bombs as they fall on the Cathedral.
- World War Two
Justin Welby becomes the new archbishop of Canterbury
A Walk Through Time activity sheets
Click here to find a programme of curriculum linked classroom activities and resources to support the ‘A walk through time’ resource.Download activity sheets