The Saxon Cathedral at Canterbury and The Saxon Saints Buried Therein/Preface

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THIS account of the Saxon Cathedral at Canterbury, and of the Saxon Saints buried therein, was written primarily for new members of Archaeological Societies, as well as for general readers who might desire to learn something of its history and organization in those far-away days. The matter has been drawn from the writings of men long since passed away. Their dust lies commingled with that of their successors who lived down to the time when this ancient Religious House fell upon revolutionary days, who witnessed its dissolution as a Priory of Benedictine Monks after nine centuries devoted to the service of God, and its re-establishment as a College of secular canons. This important change, taking place in the sixteenth century, was, with certain differences, a return to the organization which existed during the Saxon period. From the time of St. Austin, about the year 602, to that of Lanfranc at the time of the Conquest, the Cathedral was served by a staff of clergy who lived a common life but were not monks, as they followed no monastic rule, though they used a common dormitory and a common refectory. At the Reformation, when the Cathedral was re-founded by Henry VIII, the clergy were to be seculars, not living a common life, but canons living in separate houses and governed by a Dean, as in all the Cathedral establishments of the old foundation.

If any of my archaeological confrères should honour me by reading this volume, I trust that they will read the Appendix before venturing upon the text. In it will be found a narrative—extracted from the writings of mediaeval historians—which has led me to put forward the opinions I have formulated, first, as to whether there is any portion of the Saxon church visible above ground; secondly, whether any portion of the Saxon domestic buildings remain above ground; and thirdly, whether access to the ambulatory or passage leading to the crypt was by a north and south entrance from the transept, or by a west to east passage only in the centre of the steps leading up from the nave to the presbytery. I have followed Professor Willis, as a sure guide in most of his interpretations. He was the first archæologist to measure up and survey our cathedrals in a scientific manner; and he combined the study of ancient muniments with a vast historical knowledge, which enabled him to take first place within the ranks of his archæological brethren. Much, doubtless, has been learnt since Professor Willis's time, but his masterly treatise on Canterbury Cathedral remains the key to most of the problems which arise concerning it, and all later writers are indebted to his industry, and the methods he used to elucidate its results. I also desire here to offer my homage to the memory of the late Sir William St. John Hope, and at the same time to express my admiration of his genius. To his learning and accuracy, I, in common with many others, owe much. He was a kind and considerate friend, ever ready to bestow the benefit of his great knowledge upon those who sought it. To Lieut.-Col. S. H. Page, C.M.G., architect, of Ramsgate, I owe special thanks; he took upon himself the trouble of typing my MS., thereby making its revision an easy matter, and also very kindly turned my rough draughts of the plans into finished drawings; his intimate knowledge of the crypt of the Cathedral and its measurements will, I hope, be given to students ere long, and they will be surprised and interested at the result of his investigations.

Thanks also are due to the Council of the Kent Archæological Society for permission to reproduce the picture of Queen Ediva; to the British Archæological Association for a like permission with regard to the plan of Durovernum; to the Society of Antiquaries for permission to use the plan illustrating the early Christian Church at Silchester; and to the Committee of the Public Museum and Art Gallery of the Corporation of Reading for permission to use photos of the foundations of the same church; and lastly to the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury for permission to make use of the MSS. preserved in their Library.

Amongst the biographies of the Saxon Saints interred within the Cathedral, some new material with reference to their anniversaries will be found. No laudatory inscriptions mark their last resting-places— time, aided by the wanton neglect of man, and the ruthlessness of the so-called restorer, has obliterated the last traces of their sepulture; and it is the local antiquary only, who knows where their dust probably lies. But the good they did lives after them, and we can best praise them in the words of Ecclesiasticus, as in the Vulgate version:

"They were rich in vertue, studying beautifulness, living in peace in their house; They were men of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed; Their bodies are buried in peace, and their name liveth from generation to generation. Let the people shew forth their wisdom and the Church declare their praise."

Authorities quoted and references to authors will be found in the Notes and in the Text; the most important of which will be found in the Bibliography.


The Precincts,