The Rev. Dr Thomas Coombe (1747–1822) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his father was health officer of the port of Philadelphia. He was educated at the Academy and College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) taking his bachelor’s degree in 1766 and master’s degree in 1768. The College’s founding president was Benjamin Franklin, a friend of Coombe’s father.
Thomas Coombe then travelled to England to seek ordination in the Church of England, staying for a time in London with Benjamin Franklin at his house at 36 Craven Street (near present-day Trafalgar Square) when Franklin was serving as the London agent for the Pennsylvania Assembly and then as Postmaster for the British North American colonies. Continue reading “From prison in Philadelphia to a canonry at Canterbury Cathedral”
On 10 June 1647 the Westminster Parliament passed an ordinance declaring that the celebration of Christmas was a punishable offence. There had been long-standing opposition on the part of the Puritans to the festivities of the twelve nights of Christmas and to special church services to mark Christmas Day. Continue reading “The Canterbury Christmas Day riots, 1647”
The Byble in Englyshe. [London]: Edward Whitchurch, 1540/1541(Dean and Chapter of Canterbury)
Sir Hans Sloane MD, FRS, FRCP (1660–1753), was a celebrated 18th-century physician and scientist. He was a royal physician to Queen Anne, George I and George II, and President of the Royal Society from 1727 to 1740. He was also President of the Royal College of Physicians. More importantly (if that is possible) he accumulated one of the largest collections of books of his time, particularly strong in scientific and medical works. In his will, Sloane offered his collection to the nation on provision of £20,000 for his heirs which was much less than the real value of the books. Parliament accepted the offer and in 1759 his library became one of the founding collections in the library of the newly established British Museum, together with the library of Sir Robert Cotton and the Old Royal Library, given by King George II. Sloane’s contribution to this new national library has been estimated at about 50,000 volumes.
In 1674, the Treasurer’s Book at Canterbury Cathedral records an ongoing problem in dealing with rats who were nesting in the organ bellows.
In the days before electric motors, the wind for a church organ had to be produced by human muscle in the form of a mechanical bellows made of wood and leather, a perfect home (and food) for a family of rats. Continue reading “Rats in the organ”
Cornetts and sackbuts in Canterbury Cathedral at the Restoration (1660)
In May 1660, the monarchy was restored in England after the period of Cromwell’s Commonwealth. On his return from exile in France, King Charles II stopped overnight in Canterbury on his way from Dover to London and attended a service at Canterbury Cathedral. Only two of the twelve canons were still alive at the Restoration and new appointments had to be made but the Cathedral administration was soon up and running again and its liturgy and music were revived.