Bubblewrap and England's Oldest Church
But the past week hasn't just been a tale of bubblewrap and boxes. On Wednesday I went to the Franciscan Study Centre, Canterbury to speak to the English Catholic Historical Association on St Augustine and the Conversion of England. I enjoyed researching the talk although everyone seemed rather tired after an intensive three day conference and the discussion afterwards was mercifully short! The audience included the new Abbot of Downside, Dom Aidan Bellenger, who is thankfully continuing his historical pursuits despite his new appointment - I spent a very enjoyable evening chatting to him and Dr Stella Fletcher, with whom he has written books on England's Cardinals and the Archbishops of Canterbury.
Before giving my talk we were treated to a tour of Christian Canterbury. It was especially good to visit St Martin's, the oldest functioning church in England. Its origins are uncertain - some say it was a Roman mausoleum and others, following St Bede, suggest it was a Romano-British church. The building is to a large extent Saxon and built on Roman foundations. It was certainly dedicated to the Gaulish St Martin by the Merovingian Queen Bertha, the wife of King St Ethelbert, and her chaplain, St Liudhard. When St Augustine and his band of forty monks arrived in Kent in 597 St Martin's became their first base and it was here that the King was probably baptised.
Worth visiting - not only to honour the cradle of English Christianity but to take a picture of the famous 'keyhole' view of the Cathedral tower (above).