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St. Martin's Church, Canterbury

The Church of St Martin in Canterbury, England, situated slightly beyond the city centre, is the first church founded in England, the oldest parish church in continuous use and the oldest church in the entire English-speaking world. As such, it is recognised, along with Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine's Abbey, as part of a World Heritage Site. Since 1668 the church has been part of the benefice of St Martin and St Paul Canterbury. Both St Martin's and nearby St Paul's churches are used for weekly services. The current rector of the parish is the Revd Mark Richard Griffin
St Martin's was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome. Queen Bertha was a Christian Frankish princess who arrived in England with her Chaplain, Bishop Liudhard. King Æthelberht of Kent, her pagan husband, allowed her to continue to practise her religion by renovating (ca. AD 580) an existing church which the Venerable Bede says had been in use in the late Roman period but had fallen into disuse. As Bede specifically names it, this church was dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, a city located near where Bertha grew up.
Upon Augustine's arrival he used St Martin's as his mission headquarters, immediately enlarging it (AD 597), and King Æthelberht was soon baptised here. With the quickly subsequent establishments of Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine's Abbey, St Martin's lost prestige but retains its priority and historical importance.
St. Martin's Church is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our international travel planner, Canterbury Edition.
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St. Martin's Church Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
165 reviews
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  • Sadly, we went there on the one day it was closed and were only about to explore the outside. Which was entirely our own fault. I understand its much more impressive inside, but still very much worth ...  more »
  • This was the church in existence when Saint Augustine arrived and he made it his headquarters. This is where the local queen, Bertha, worshiped. Her husband converted and gave Augustine the land for t...  more »
  • Small church with a HUGE history! St. Martin's is a lovely building with an overwhelming history. Knowing that the entire building is over 1000 years older than my country is just mind blowing! We wer...  more »
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