Canterbury: The ecclesiastical jurisdiction

Pages 208-209

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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The Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction

THE CITY OF CANTERBURY IS within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of the same.

As TO the several parish churches which have been, or now are within this city or its suburbs; the first of them that is found mentioned, excepting that of St. Martin, is that of the four crowned martyrs, taken notice of upon this occasion by Bede, who says, that a little before the year 624, great part of this city was burnt, and the slames raging vehemently near this church, archbishop Mellitus put a stop to them by his prayers. The four crowned saints gave title to an antient church in Rome, and was probably given to this church by one of our three first archbishops, who were Romans. The place where this church was situated, cannot now be marked out, but as far as can be guessed by Bede's short narrative, it was not far from the archbishop's palace, and not improbably on the same spot of ground where St. Alphage's church now stands; for the flames were driven by a south wind towards the north side of the city, and the archbishop was carried near to this church of the four crowned martyrs, where a stop was put to the fire; the wind suddenly turning to the north, as the venerable historian relates it. (fn. 1) Another church is mentioned in a charter of Cænulph, king of Mercia, and Cuthred, king of Kent, anno 804, being a gift to the abbess and her nuns of Liminge, of a piece of land, which belonged to the church of St. Mary, situated in the west part of this city. But as no such church is now, or is read of, to have been standing since the conquest, it may be safely inferred, that from the face and condition of the city having suffered an utter change since that period, especially when the Danes made such havoc of both place and people in king Ethelred's days, both by fire and sword; the church above-mentioned, as well as all others within it, were then totally destroyed and annihilated; so that all that we know of (except St. Martin's) must have been erected since that time, and the names of the saints to which several of the churches are dedicated, as St. Alphage, St. Dunstan, and St. Edmund the King and Martyr, serve to confirm the truth of it.


  • 1. Bede, lib. ii. c. 7.