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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 GriffinEarly 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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St. Martin's Church Reviews
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  • Hidden gem is an overused term but fits this church perfectly as it's off the main part of Canterbury but is well worth a visit. 'The oldest parish church in the English speaking world' is the descrip...  more »
  • Definitely old is the St. Martin's Church. ... Also it is characteristic the cemetery surrounding the Church and some headstones are seen even if you walk in the trail to go from the walls to the Center. Little gem of Canterbury!
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  • Visited today on a warm sunny day. Very quiet and tranquil grounds but sadly the church was not open. Limited access.  more »
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  • Possibly the oldest continuously used place of Christian worship in England. Large sections of the original Roman and Saxon walls are intact and the church exudes history from its stones.
  • Thanks to the Lord that I could see the first church of England.
  • 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.

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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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19 days in United Kingdom & Bruges BY A USER FROM CZECH REPUBLIC June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Canterbury BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 30 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM CANADA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 30 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM CANADA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Canterbury BY A USER FROM VIETNAM July, kids, popular PREFERENCES: July, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM NETHERLANDS April, teens, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: April, teens, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 22 days in Kent BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM October, culture, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: October, culture ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 9 days in Southeast England BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND March, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 21 days in United Kingdom & Ireland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, culture, relaxing, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: May, culture, relaxing, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 39 days in Ireland & United Kingdom BY A USER FROM CANADA July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 3 days in Kent BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM February, teens, outdoors, historic sites, wildlife, hidden gems PREFERENCES: February, teens, outdoors, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium
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