The House of the Greyfriars in Canterbury
|The House of the Greyfriars in Canterbury|
In the heart of Canterbury, very near to this ancient city's busiest thoroughfares, yet, in its peace, strangely removed from them, stands Grey Friars dreaming of bygone days.
Its image, now restored to something if not all of its original picturesque form, is reflected in the clear, tranquil waters of that arm of the Stour over which it has been built, and looking at it even with the eye of inexperience it is not difficult to recognize in Grey Friars a treasure of early English architecture dating back, to the middle of the 13th century.
St. Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Order of the Grey Friars - or Friars Minor as they were often called - from whom the little house takes its name. Not permitted to own worldly goods, these ill-clad, quiet brothers of the poor went out into the world at their leader's bidding to give comfort and succor where they could, begging their bread from door to door, sleeping among the outcast and living lives of extreme self-sacrifice.
On September 10, 1224, a little company of nine Friars landed at Dover, sent by St. Francis himself, and tramped their way to Canterbury.
Entering the city through the Roman Riding Gate, the Friars, Dr. Cotton writes, " proceeded as far as the ' Iron Cross,' where the four original streets of the Roman city met, and then passed up St. Margaret's Street and across the Middle Row at the West Front of St. Andrew's Church, which was then in the centre of the main street, continuing along the Mercerie and Palace Street to the Green Court Gate of the monastery, then known as the Priory of the Holy Trinity. Here they were hospitably entertained for two days by the monks."
A few days later they broke into two companies, four of them setting off for London while the remaining five stayed on at Canterbury to begin a ministry that went on for over 300 years.
These five, after their two days' entertainment at the Priory, were conducted to the Poor Priests' Hospice, an asylum endowed for Poor Priests. It is interesting to note that the Priests' Hospital is still standing, though most of it is of later date, having been rebuilt in 1373, and may be seen immediately in front of Grey Friars, on the further bank of the Stour and facing Stour Street.
|< Prev||Next >|