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St. Martin's Church, Canterbury

4.5
#6 of 26 in Sightseeing in Canterbury
Church Tourist Spot
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 Canon Noelle Hall.Early historySt 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.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
117 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • We were so amazed at this old church and the cemetery. It is so steeped in history and a must to see. It is the oldest church in England that still provides church service.  more »
  • Interesting church. Smaller than I thought and was hoping for a few more ancient artifacts but interesting all the same. Free entry.  more »
  • This Saxon church with many later additions is built on the site of a Roman temple to Siluris (the spring still wells up and floods the church occasionally), and may have been a Celtic shrine before t...  more »
Google
  • The first church founded in England and the oldest church in the entire English-speaking world. A special, ancient place.
  • Tiny little church. This is the oldest open church in United Kingdom. Interesting to see and it has very nice overview to the city of Canterbury.
  • Very very old church and beautiful cemetry . Short walk from abbey.
  • Beautiful place
  • Oldest UK church still in use

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Where to stay in Canterbury

To explore Canterbury at your own pace, book your rooms at a family-run hotel in the heart of this historical city. Staying in this area keeps you close to all of the city's main historical sites, as well as its major shopping center. Family-run hotels offer traditional values, warm hospitality, and fully-licensed bars and restaurants, all at a fraction of the cost of the big hotel chains. For an equally comfortable and affordable stay, consider one of many centrally located guesthouses, which feature elegant rooms and covered courtyards.
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