Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the Age of Becket


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Peter Fergusson

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This fascinating book recounts the extensive building program that took place at Canterbury Cathedral Priory, England, from 1153 to 1167, during the time when Thomas Becket served as Royal Chancellor and then as archbishop of Canterbury. Masterminded by Prior Wibert, the renewal included the physical expansion of the cathedral's precinct, the construction of new buildings, and the installation of a pioneering pressurized water system. This ambitious undertaking utilized a Late Romanesque style, lavish materials, and sculpture, and drew on the optimism and creative energy of the young Angevin rulers of England, Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. 

Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the Age of Becket reassesses the surviving remains and relates them to important changes in Benedictine monasticism concerned with hospitality, hygiene, the administration of law, liturgy, and the care of the sick. It also restores to history a neglected major patron of unusual breadth and accomplishments. Peter Fergusson sheds fresh light on the social and cultural history of the mid-12th century.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Peter Fergusson is emeritus professor of art history at Wellesley College.

"The reader is invited to look at the precinct through the eyes and minds of 12th century monks, and while these are inevitably mediated through a modern scholar, there could be no better guide than Fergusson. His studies of Rievaulx Abbey have expertly displayed his ability to elucidate architectural remains and their contemporary meanings; here he does for the black monks what he has done for the Cistercians." Nicola Coldstream, Medieval Archaeology
ISBN: 9780300175691
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
288 pages, 8 1/2 x 11'
50 color + 100 b/w illus.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Reconstructing Urban Landscapes

Edited by Anita Berrizbeitia; Foreword by Paul Goldberger;

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