Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Friday, June 24, 2011

historical knowledge

Yesterday our study group went to Canterbury, where I wanted us to see not just the famous, enormous, and tourist-strewn cathedral — thank God we’re not tourists, huh? — but also the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey — a site which from a certain historical point of view is as important as that big old church.

But the coach park had been moved since my previous visit to Canterbury. The lot right next to the Abbey is now cars-only, and we had to park north of the city center. From there I wasn’t sure how to get to the Abbey, since Canterbury fails to follow a clear compass-point grid system. (Seems like the town’s founders could have used Manhattan or the Chicago Loop as a model. Thoughtless of them not to.) We didn't have a lot of time, so I ducked into a shop featuring historical trinkets to ask for directions — but the woman at the desk had no idea where the Abbey was, and suggested I ask the book dealer next door. Unfortunately, though the shop door was open, no one was inside. I tried another shop, then a café, but it appeared that no one in Canterbury had ever heard of St. Augustine’s Abbey.

I submit this little anecdote merely for your reflection.

3 comments:

  • According to Wikipedia, "The foundations of the main abbey building are located at 51°16′41.26″N 1°5′17.54″E"

  • How did you pronounce "Augustine"? Perhaps they couldn't understand you...

  • I had the same experience in Chicago once, driving to University of Chicago for the first time. No one knew where it was, or even that it existed. And it turned out that the people I asked lived only a few blocks away from the university..

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