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16 May 2010

A Canterbury Tale

Filed under: Events — marilyn @ 10:19

This post describes a visit to Canterbury in Kent, one of Hazle Ceramics’ 20th Anniversary Events in 2010. As well as being a city of great beauty and history, five buildings here have been modelled by Hazle. Only London and Windsor have more but they have been much visited by collectors. The article features ceramics from Canterbury and the event.

When Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170 by four knights it was probably the gruesome way it happened – and within the sanctity of the Cathedral itself – that created such enormous outrage across European Christendom. And then the pilgrimages started … encouraged by reports of miracles in and around the murder site.

Cathedral Gate Hotel Cathedral gate Hotel Ceramic

On a sunny Sunday in March 2010 Chris and I did our very own pilgrimage. Due to pay homage to Thomas later, our first stop was morning coffee. The big appeal was having it in the Cathedral Gate Coffee House modelled by Hazle Ceramics, next to Christchurch Gate. And we were also in the company of Hazle, guide Carla and other collectors.

Starbucks 1 Starbucks 2

Starbucks on the ground floor has been sympathetically converted, with old brick and stone walls exposed as above. Formerly part of The Sun Inn, this was the only pilgrims’ hostelry with Cathedral views – at the back. Charles Dickens is said to have stayed here. While we ate and drank, guide Carla on Hazle’s right, talked about the murder’s impact.

Old Buttermarket Sign Steamer Trader Cookshop

Then it was back outside to The Buttermarket, a triangular space that is a honeypot for tourists today. One of the other main pilgrims’ lodgings where several shared a room or even a bed was The Bull Inn, now The Steamer Trading Cookshop above. It is still similar to medieval times, especially the middle beamed floor with its small window panes.

Priest's House Priest's House Priest's House Gargoyle Balthazar's Baubles

We saw remains of the third main pilgrim lodging The Chequer of Hope inn including old beer cellars in Debenhams’ basement, then set off for Palace Street with three more Hazle buildings – commissioned by the same owners in 2009. Dated 1250, the Priest’s House at No 8 has gargoyles to ward off evil spirits! Balthazar’s Baubles is first of the 2009 Christmas Set.

Conquest House Palace Street Poulterer

Dated c1100 with a Tudor front, Conquest House at No 17 is said to be where Henry II’s knights lodged before the murder. It is ideal for the Palace Street Poulterer, second Christmas Set theme, as it was one once. Long wanting to portray the old custom of hanging meat outside, Hazle created the hand-pressed poultry add-ons and painted all pieces herself.

Kings' English Daily Star King's English with hazle Collectors

We visited this lovely, light bookstore that sells Hazle’s Palace Street models. Upstairs is the chimney door that caused the 1800s lean, stabilised in the 1980s. The Christmas Set’s Daily Star has a Church Shop, with a local newspaper on the top floors. Far right Hazle snaps our group at No 28, dated 1647 and former shop of The King’s School.

Collectors outside King's English King's English Gargoyle

Hazle is in the doorway. Above a quote from Dickens’ David Copperfield, partly set here, is of “a very old house bulging out over the road …”. The first UK image of a US Indian may be above. In London 1623, The Mayflower was broken up for timber. With the ship’s owner from Canterbury, might some of the wood have been used for this “masthead”?!

Saunders Saunders (Real) Saunders (Gold)

Next on our route was 50 St Peter Street which when modelled by Hazle in 1995 was Saunders bakery and confectionery with two side doors, as it had been for over 100 years. An 1899 sepia postcard and the early 1900s photo below inspired the colours and main window. Only one final colourway was intended but event goers voted for both!

Book of Shops Saunders

Saunders served lunches and teas and this Confectioner’s & Tearooms by F D Bedford shows how it may have looked at the turn of the 20th century. Its triticumina bread from malted wheatflour was noted in the 1893 British Medical Journal for the highly soluble carbohydrate! Saunders also photographed and mono-printed local scenes onto postcards.

Muder in the Cathedral Becket Murder Site

Then it was time for the Cathedral. The Martyrdom is where Thomas died after defying King Henry II. In contrast to the soaring 12th century choir at the top of the page,  this is a place for quiet meditation – with seating provided. The modern sculpture integrates The Crucifixion with the three swords that struck Thomas according to eyewitness accounts.

Thomas Becket Louvre

In just three years Thomas was made a saint. Everyone wanted “bits of Becket” as bone or cloth. This amazing gold enamelled panel is from a Limoges Chasse for such relics. Of the 50 still existing, this one in The Louvre is a two-knight version. As the Cathedral once had a similar casket on display, painter Iona put one in The Canterbury Tales piece below.

Cathedral Shop Rupert Bear Museum

Afterwards our group gathered in the Cathedral Gift Shop on Burgate, off The Buttermarket. We then went our separate ways for a short time before meeting up for tea. This beautiful store includes work from local craftspeople. It is nice to think that the sale of Hazle Ceramics here helps towards the £12,000 weekly cost to keep the Cathedral going.

Canterbury Tales Canterbury Tales Ruperts

Two event pieces were based on local attractions. The Rupert Bear Museum in Stour Street marks the city as home of creator Mary Tourtel. The Rupert ceramic is by Hazle and Carol. Iona’s added frieze in The Canterbury Tales Study Centre shows story characters, with the real Visitor Centre in St Margaret Street’s former church having talking tableaux.

Canterbury Pilgrims

While Iona depicted people in the tales of Chaucer’s vivid portrayal of medieval life, Ezra Winter’s glorious 1939 mural at the Congress Library in Washington shows many pilgrims on horseback. From the front, this section illustrates the Knight, his son the young Squire, a Yeoman and the Doctor of Physic, with Chaucer turned away talking to the Lawyer.

Cathedral Hotel View Tea

Around 4pm our pilgrims met again in the same building we started in, but now in the hotel above. A sort of Upstairs, Downstairs affair! The left window shows the Cathedral from the hotel’s Reception. To picture how the city looked to previous travellers, displays in the Canterbury Museum trace the history right back to Roman times …

Tea and Cakes Cathedral Gate Hotel

High Tea, inside the right bay window above, helped satisfy our hunger. Our walking tour with Carla might not have taken in all Canterbury’s sights but it did do justice to Hazle’s work here. Whether seeing, visiting, shopping or eating and drinking in the actual buildings, living and breathing the ceramics doesn’t get much closer, or better, than this!

Hazle Ceramics featured on this page:

Cathedral Gate Hotel Priest’s House Balthazar’s Baubles
Palace St Poulterer Daily Star Saunders Bakery
Saunders (Green & Gold) Canterbury Tales Rupert Bear


Comment by Louise Evans — 19 May 2010 @ 01:32

The Canterbury Walk looked like a fantastic day – wish I had been able to come!!

Comment by Chris Craig — 29 May 2010 @ 11:38

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Comment by sharon romary-rorabaugh — 20 June 2011 @ 03:28

Would love to see and visit my ancestors’ place of living even though I don’t know if I’m able to go to England or Ireland, because of my physical body. It’s been very hard for me to get around now. I would love to hear from my different ancestors. Thanks.

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