Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most magnificent churches in the world. It was built over a period of a thousand years, something, which is reflected in its wonderful mixture of architectural styles. St Augustine's church, the original church on the site, was plundered and pillaged by the Danes in 851 and again in 1011, acts which were accompanied by the sacking of the town itself. King Canute restored the Cathedral but it suffered a destructive fire in 1067after which the Normans set about rebuilding it. Although the present Cathedral was largely constructed between 1970 and 1180, it wasn't until 1832 when the north-west tower was built that construction on the Cathedral ended.
Today the Cathedral is a genuine architectural wonder as well as an historical time capsule. Upon entering through the west door, the visitor is struck by the magnificent Perpendicular nave at the end of which is the stone scene, or Pulpitum, erected in the 14 th century, which separates the nave from the choir that was built 200 years earlier. Across the north-west transept behind the High Altar, lies Trinity Chapel, which embraces the place of Martyrdom, where in 1170, Thomas a Becket, the then archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered on the alleged orders of King Henry II for his refusal to accept the state's regulation of Church affairs. The murder reverberated heavily throughout Europe and turned Canterbury into one of the greatest places of pilgrimages in Christendom.
Becket was declared a saint in 1172. At the top of the steps leading to Trinity Chapel lies the tomb of the son of Edward III, Edward, the Black Prince, the captor of the French king at the battle of Poitiers in 1356 during the Hundred Years War. Edward's epithet is supposedly derived from his black armour. He died in 1376. On the other side of Trinity Chapel is the tomb of Henry IV, who died in 1413, the only English king to be buried in the Cathedral. On the south side of the Pulpitum is the entrance to the crypt, the largest Norman crypt in Europe, at the centre of which sits the Chapel of Our Lady that was built by the Black Prince as his final resting place. Around the walls of the Cathedral are some of the finest examples of stained glass work in the world dating back to the late 12 th century. Outside the Cathedral are several buildings such as the Great Cloister, originating from the early Norman era, but rebuilt in the 14 th century. In the north-west of the Cloister is the doorway to the stewards lodgings leading to the Cathedral through which Becket himself entered for the last time, having to make a detour because his usual route through the West door was blocked by armed men.