St Andrew’s in Canterbury & Return of St Thomas Day

St Andrew’s Church at the east end of the High Street.

Today Wednesday 30 November is St Andrew’s Day which was a very special day on the Pilgrims’ Way at Botley Abbey, where there was a relic, and at the very last church before Canterbury Cathedral.

Arriving on foot in Canterbury to visit Thomas Becket’s shine in the Cathedral before the Reformation you would not have missed the turning in the High Street.

Straddling the road immediately beyond the Mercery Lane left turn was St Andrew’s Church.

In 1794 it was pulled down and rebuilt a few yards south to open up the main road. In 1956 the 18th-century church made way for the NatWest Bank. You can see the entrance where the cash machines are now.

The original church marked the end of the High Street with the wide street continuing behind the church as the Parade.

The first St Andrew’s Church was a Norman building, served from St Augustine’s Abbey, and known to Thomas Becket. Look on Hotter shoes shopfront for a plaque.

Today there will be a said Eucharist in the Cathedral’s St Andrew’s Chapel at 12.30pm and Evening Prayer will be said in the Crypt at 5.30pm.

But St Andrew’s Day was never been one of Canterbury Cathedral’s principal feasts. On 30 November the Cathedral would have been looking forward to the next day, the Vigil of the Return of St Thomas. The second day of December is the anniversary of Archbishop Becket’s return from exile to his cathedral in 1170.

This year on Return of St Thomas Day Friday 2 December the cathedral will be open with free admission from 2pm until Choral Evensong at 5.30pm. This will also mark the removal of covers and scaffolding on the 500 year old Christ Church Gate where pilgrims enter from the street. Restored and vibrant repainted carvings to be revealed will include the arms of Archbishop Becket.

Old St Andrew’s just before demolition.
The sweetshop to the left at the Mercery Lane entrance is the Checker Of The Hope inn mentioned by Chaucer.
Pret A Manger, a 15th-century building on the corner of Mercery Lane and the Parade, was Boots. Mercers sold their cloth in Mercery Lane.
Hotter shoe shop with the plaque and former entrance to the replacement church (left).
The plaque on Hotter shoe shop building.
St Andrew’s was in front of Pret A Manger.

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