Title ID 962Collection ID420
TitleCathedral City
ThemeUrban Life
KeywordsBuilding Construction Children Interiors Music Religious Activities Religious Buildings Schools Tourism Trades Urban Areas
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJ. Arthur Rank Organisation Ltd Gaumont British Instructional Ltd
CameraJames Allen
DirectorDon Chaffey; John Goodman (Assistant Director)
ProducerFrank Wells (Associate Producer)
DistributorGaumont British Instructional
EditorMichel Boyd
WriterDerek Mayne; Don Chaffey
NarratorRonald Simpson
SoundPeter Birch
Other creditsKenneth Talbot (Director of Photography); G.J Cons (Educational Adviser); GB Equipments Ltd (Distributor)
Format16mm Black & White Sound
Duration21 min. 30 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This professional film was produced as an educational record of Canterbury Cathedral. It has a commentary which supplies historical facts about the images captured on film.


Canterbury Cathedral is filmed from a great distance - it sits proudly amongst the smaller buildings which encircle it. The camera approaches, filming the architectural details of the imposing building. A congregation of pilgrims watch a procession of clergy walk past the nave of the Cathedral. The interior and exterior spaces of the Cathedral are explored - tourists tour the crypt and the grounds which contain the cloisters, the chapter houses and King's School. The city of Canterbury lies beyond the Cathedral's walls and the camera captures images of Mercery Lane, the Falstaff Chorus Hotel and shops in the High Street. Visitors enter the Cathedral through the West Gate (?), passing below the scaffolding erected on its facade - stonemasons are filmed busily renovating part of its exterior. The Dean walks with the verger to the Cathedral - he conducts a service and the choir sing exaltations. The choristers are later seen in school, being taught maths and music, playing cricket and practising with the choirmaster. As the sun sets over the Cathedral, interior and exterior shots of the darkened building bring the film to a close.


A Still from 'Cathedral City' (1949?) showing Canterbury Cathedral

Contextual information

Cathedral City (1949?) was made by Gaumont British Instructional (GBI), one of the filmmaking arms of Gaumont British. GBI produced documentaries and specialized in making films for the educational market. Cathedral City (1949?) would therefore have been exhibited in formal and informal educational settings and institutions, providing information on the history, architecture and activities of the country's foremost cathedral city. Screen Archive South East houses two other films which tour Canterbury and its cathedral, namely [The Canterbury Tour] (ca. 1923) and [Canterbury and Miscellaneous Scenes] (1929).

The rich history of Canterbury Cathedral dates back to 597 AD. Screen Archive South East holds several films that record notable 20th century events which took place at the Cathedral, including The Lambeth Conference (1948) and Lambeth 1958 (1958) and The Pope's Visit to Canterbury (1982), an amateur record of the first ever visit by a pontiff to Canterbury Cathedral.

The Cathedral has undergone various rebuilds throughout its life and the conservation of its architecture and artefacts remains a central concern today. In the Screen Archive South East film The Making of Kent (1976) apprentice stonemasons are seen working on the Cathedral's facade.

The temporal history of King's School, Canterbury mirrors that of the Cathedral. Today this public school offers a co-educational environment to almost 800 pupils. In 1972 the schooling for the Cathedral's choristers, who are typically 8-14 year olds, shifted slightly when they were integrated into St Edmund's School in Canterbury. The choir itself is internationally renowned - in the 1980s an amateur film-maker captured the choir on tour in North America in the Screen Archive South East film Canterbury Cathedral on North America Tour (1987 - 1989).

Related titles

Related resources


Babington, Margaret Agnes. Canterbury Cathedral. n.p.: Dent, 1948

Copies of this book are available at various Kent libraries.

Collinson, Patrick. A History of Canterbury Cathedral. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995

Copies of this book are available at various Kent libraries.

Rousham, Sally. Canterbury, The Story of a Cathedral. Carlton Cleeve Ltd: London and Canterbury, 1975

Copies of this book are available at various Kent libraries.

Shirley, Frederick Joseph John. The Pictorial History of Canterbury Cathedral. London: Pitkins Pictorial Ltd, 1962

Copies of this book are available at various Kent libraries.

Willis, Robert. Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral. n.p.: Longman, Pickering and Bell, 1845

Copies of this book are available at various Kent libraries.


Canterbury Cathedral Archives

"In the Canterbury Cathedral Archives, you can find out more about the Cathedral, its history, its buildings and its community. You can explore the history of Canterbury and the surrounding area, and you can research East Kent family history".

Kent History and Library Centre

Manuscript and printed records for the County of Kent including books, pamphlets, maps, illustrations and microfilm, reflecting Kent's local history.

Lambeth Palace Library

"Lambeth Palace Library is the historic library of the archbishops of Canterbury and the principal library and record office for the history of the Church of England."

Museum of Canterbury

The Museum of Canterbury has exhibits detailing the history of Canterbury from pre-Roman times to the present.


British History Online (BHO)

This is the website for British History Online, "the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles." It includes material from Victoria History of the County of Kent and Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae which details the history of Canterbury Cathedral. Copies of the books are available at Canterbury Library.

The King's School, Canterbury

The website for King's School, Canterbury.