The Marlowe Society
20 February 2014

Happy Birthday!

Christopher Marlowe was baptised 450 years ago today

On this day 450 years ago, the parish records of St George the Martyr Church in Canterbury document that on "The 26th day of February [1564] was christened Christofer, the sonne of John Marlow":

Christopher Marlowe's baptism in the parish records of St George the Martyr, Canterbury

There is no record of his exact date of birth, but it is likely to have been no more than 2 or 3 days earlier; the high infant mortality rates of the time encouraged parents to christen newly born children very shortly after birth to ensure entry into heaven in the event of an early death.

The church of St George the Marytr in Canterbury before it was partly destroyed during a German bombing raid in June 1942.
This photograph taken westwards along St George's Street shows the church of St George the Martyr in Canterbury before it was largely destroyed by German bombs in 1942.

We are lucky that the parish records survive, since much of the church on St George's Street in Canterbury was destroyed in a Luftwaffe bombing raid on 01 June 1942. The clock tower defied the bombs, although the clock stopped at 02:18am, and the old bells fell to the ground.

Seven of his eight brothers and sisters were baptised in the same church, suggesting that the Marlowes lived in the parish for the first 10-12 years of Christopher's childhood. The family are supposed to have lived in a house opposite the church, on the corner of St. George's Street and St. George's Lane, but there is no documentary evidence to prove that. In any event, that house too was completely destroyed in the same bombing raid in 1942.

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