Decision : 32 COM 8B.99
Revision of Statements of Signifiance and Statements Outstanding Universal Value - Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church (UK)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B.Add and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Adopts the following Statement of Significance for Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church, United Kingdom:

St Martin's Church, the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey, and Christ Church Cathedral together reflect milestones in the history of Christianity in Britain. They reflect in tangible form:

The reintroduction of Christianity to southern Britain by St Augustine, commencing at St Martin's Church where Queen Bertha already worshipped, and leading to the conversion of King Ethelbert.

The successive architectural responses to Canterbury's developing role as focus of the Church in England - adaptation of Roman buildings, the development of Anglo-Saxon building in mortared brick and stone, and the flowering of Romanesque and Gothic.

The development, under St Augustine and the monks from Rome, of early Benedictine monasticism, which spread from its cradle in Canterbury throughout Britain and had a profound impact on English society.

The Abbey scriptorium, which was one of the great centres of insular book production, and whose influence extended far beyond the boundaries of Kent and Northumbria. The development of literacy, education, and scholarship at the Abbey meant that Canterbury became the most important medieval centre of learning in the country.

Canterbury's importance as a pilgrimage centre based on Augustine and its other early saints was transformed by the murder and canonization of Archbishop Thomas Becket, whose Cathedral shrine attracted pilgrims from all over Europe.

The wealth and power of the Cathedral in the 12th century, when the offerings of large numbers of pilgrims helped the building of the magnificent enlargement of the east end, with its exceptional stained glass windows and the rebuilding of the choir and transepts following the fire of 1174. These features form one of the finest examples of Early Gothic art.

The Cathedral's rich panorama of Romanesque, early Gothic, and late Gothic art and architecture.

The establishment of Canterbury as the seat of the spiritual leader of the Church of England.

Criterion (i): Christ Church Cathedral, especially the east sections, is a unique artistic creation. The beauty of its architecture is enhanced by a set of exceptional early stained glass windows which constitute the richest collection in the United Kingdom.

Criterion (ii): The influence of the Benedictine abbey of St Augustine was decisive throughout the High Middle Ages in England. The influence of this monastic centre and its scriptorium extended far beyond the boundaries of Kent and Northumbria.

Criterion (vi): St Martin's Church, St Augustine's Abbey, and the Cathedral are directly and tangibly associated with the history of the introduction of Christianity to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

3. Recommends that assessment for statements of authenticity and integrity / statements of protection and management should be postponed to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee (2009) awaiting adoption of a methodology and an agreed format for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for inscribed properties.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
Year: 2008
Decision Code: 32 COM 8B.99