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LIFE IN THE 17TH CENTURY - THINGS WHICH AFFECTED THE
RESIDENTS OF CANTERBURY

There was certainly a lot happening in the 17th century world. At the very dawn of the century, Queen Elizabeth I died and shortly afterwards, the gunpowder plot failed. In 1620 the Mayflower set off for the new world and the Spanish Inquisition was halfway through it's terrifying 400 year rampage.

Closer to home, which to my forebears at this time was Canterbury, huge events were taking place which certainly would have affected them all. Firstly there was the Civil War, although historians often divide the conflict into two or three separate wars. Most people were reluctant to take sides and wished to stay neutral, yet gradually they were sucked in.

A precursor to Kent's Second Civil War had come on Wednesday, 22 December 1647, when Canterbury's town crier had proclaimed the county committee's order for the suppression of Christmas Day and its treatment as any other working day. However, a large crowd gathered 3 days later to demand a church service, decorate doorways with holly bushes, and keep the shops shut. This crowd - under the slogan 'For God, King Charles, and Kent' - then descended into violence and riot, with a soldier being assaulted, the mayor's house attacked, and the city under the rioters' control for several weeks until forced to surrender in early January

Westgate Tower Canterbury famous in its own right for being the first defensive structure built (1380)specifically for defence with guns has an interesting collection of ECW armour on the walls of the main chamber.

Canterbury was occupied by Parliamentary forces soon after the outbreak of the Civil War in August 1642. The town muskets were repaired, the city defences strengthened and new supplies of gunpowder bought.

Colonel Sandy's troops were deployed in the Cathedral, despoiling images, monuments and service books. Then encouraged by Richard Culmer - a local churchman known as Blue Dick - they fetched poles to attack the stained glass.

Parliament sent General Fairfax with 3000 troops to canterbury, where they broke down the gates and breached the city walls in a show of strength to restore order.

On the King's execution in 1649, the City duly replaced the Royal arms with those of the Commonwealth in the Guild Hall and dined with Oliver Cromwell on his visit in 1651.

Also affecting the citizens of Canterbury was the plague. Although it had come and gone in waves over the preceding couple of centuries or so, in 1665 the plague ravaged England lasting from June until November -it reached it's peak in September.

The citizens of Canterbury would have been shocked at the news reaching them from London of the Great Fire in 1666.

On a smaller note, the Bank of England was established at the close of the century.

Every Day Life