Goodbye To Canterbury

5:30pm Tuesday 1 January on BBC TWO

On the eve of his retirement as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams gives BBC Two an exclusive insight into his thoughts after 10 years in one of the toughest jobs in Britain.

Goodbye To Canterbury 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 Archbishop 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.

Most importantly, 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.

As Archbishop Williams asserts: “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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