At 11 am on each weekday morning (Monday to Saturday), visitors to the cathedral will hear six rings on the bell of HMS Canterbury, situated in the south east transept. It is usually a Verger who rings the bell but anyone who has served in the Royal Navy is entitled to ring it. His Majesty King George VI was one such man. Following prayers for all who have died in conflict, and for peace in the world, an ex-servicemen or sometimes a serving serviceman, will turn the page in the Buff’s Book of Remembrance. The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) have strong historical links to the cathedral in terms of monuments, regimental colours, services, etc. The book lists the names of over 7000 men who died during service after 1914. Similar books or remembrance and some regalia are held for other regiments. The nearby drum, for example, was presented in 1960 by the Queen’s own Rifles of Canada (in their centenary year) to mark 50 years of alliance between their regiment and the Buffs.
HMS Canterbury was a C-class light cruiser of the British Royal Navy. She saw World War I active service between 1916 and 1918, including participation in the battle of Jutland. When sold for breaking up in 1934, her ship’s bell was installed in Canterbury cathedral. The bell originally stood at the gate to St Michael’s chapel, which is currently under major restoration.
What to see:
- the bell of HMS Canterbury situated in the south east transept (Image 1)
- the Book of Life nearby (Image 2)
- drum of the Queen’s own Rifles of Canada, presented in 1960 to commemorate 60 years of alliance between the Buffs and the Queen’s own Rifles
Sources; see standard cathedral sources