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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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'Goodbye to Canterbury' the Archbishop's film on BBC2 on New Year's Day

Tuesday 1st January 2013

As he steps down from the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams reveals how the art and architecture of Canterbury Cathedral have been a spiritual touchstone throughout his ministry; how ancient stones and relics are signposts in the modern world; and what this extraordinary building has to teach his successors.

The film was broadcast on BBC2 on New Year's Day, and is available on BBC iplayer in the UK until 6:30pm on 8th January. 

Dr Williams reveals how the struggle between the established Catholic Church and the new forces of the Reformation shaped the cathedral and, even today, mean it is a divided building. He also reveals how the brave deeds of the ordinary people of Canterbury saved their church from the carpet bombing of the Luftwaffe in 1942 – and most recently, how the ancient stones have taught him how to respond to the pressures of being a modern Archbishop.

This is a journey through 2000 years of English art and architecture: most spectacularly, the exotic tombs of his predecessors, the Archbishops’ throne itself, the oldest illustrated book in England, a casket that once held remains of the most famous saint in the medieval world, and the Miracle Windows showing pilgrims restored to health.

The Archbishop reveals how the tensions between Church and State (which led to the murder of an archbishop in 1170, inside the cathedral) continue today as both the cathedral building and the individual holding the office of Archbishop must struggle to resolve twin loyalties to country and to God.

“This is the mother church of England… throughout history, any battle about how this space was going to be used was in part a battle for the very soul of England… even today, it is the point of intersection between the kingdom of God, the values of God, and all the skill, the art, the problems, the politics of human beings.”

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