Gone with the Wind (1939) author Margaret Mitchell was on her way to see a showing of this film with her husband when she was hit by a speeding car. She was knocked out, and died five days later, having never recovered consciousness.
The Archers (Powell & Pressburger's production company) weren't given permission to film inside Canterbury Cathedral. In any case, the stained-glass windows had been taken out because of the air raids, the aisles were filled with sandbags and earth to fight fires and to provide a soft landing for any masonry or sculptures that fell there. So the interior of the Cathedral was rebuilt in Denham Studio. They recreated it so well that Cathedral guides have been heard telling people that the film was shot in there.
On the 19th September 2007, 'A Canterbury Tale' became the first film ever to be projected to an audience in Canterbury Cathedral and was shown as a fund-raising event to pay for repairs to the cathedral caused by WW2 bomb damage.
The Cathedral bells seen in the opening and closing shots were a miniature replica of Canterbury's Bell Harry Tower to allow the camera to track up to and through them. The bells were "rung" by bell ringers from the Cathedral who pulled the strings with finger and thumb to a playback of the real bells.
Among the various books and pictures seen in Colpepper's sitting room is a photograph of the Shetland Island of Foula, the location of director Michael Powell's first acclaimed feature film The Edge of the World (1937).
When Peter enters the Cathedral he looks up towards the roof. That is the only shot that was taken inside the real Cathedral. Despite them not getting permission to film in there they sneaked that one shot with a hand-held camera.
The engraving on the Culpeper Insitute plaque, "Not heaven itself upon the past has power; But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour", is from 'Imitation of Horace' by 'John Dryden' (Book iii. Ode 29, Line 71).
On the 11th May 2014, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first public screening of A Canterbury Tale on 11 May 1944, it was shown again in Chilham, one of the villages around Canterbury that went to make up the fictional "Chillingbourne" where we spend most of the film.
Over 100 tickets were sold for the screening in Chilham village hall. All proceeds going to their war memorial restoration fund.
Upon arriving in Canterbury, Sgt. Gibbs goes to the Police Station and asks to speak to Superintendant Hall. George Hall was the real-life Superintendant of the Canterbury Police at the time (1944). The Police Station was also real.
James Tamsitt had a haircut to make him look tidy before he went to London with Leonard Smith and David Todd to do some scenes at Denham Studio. But his new haircut didn't match the unruly mop he had in scenes filmed on location. So he had to wear a wig.