Canterbury Cathedral

choir reconstructed in the 12th century; nave in the 14th century; cloisters in the early 15th century

Although there was an original Saxon church at this location, nothing remains of it nor of a later Early Norman cathedral. The choir at the east end of the cathedral was rebuilt after the fire of 1174 and in the late 1370's a new nave was begun. The cathedral is thus a mixture of styles. The cathedral is the mother church of Anglican Christianity and especially renown because of the murder in the cathedral of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170.

Christ Church Gateway

This gate is the main entrance into the Cathedral precinct. Built during the Tudor period, the Tudor rose as well as the heraldic symbols of Henry VII appear on the gateway. The figure of a welcoming Christ at the center is a modern replacement of a statue destroyed during the Puritan Revolution.

Left and center: Canterbury from the southwest; unlike most cathedrals, Canterbury has its main entrance at the southwest (seen in center photo); right: view of the west front

From the gate one can only see about half of the cathedral's total length (about 540 feet). Looking at the cathedral from Christ Church Gateway one sees 14th and 15th additions to the church, work in the Perpendicular Gothic style.

Nave exterior


Bell Harry Tower

This central tower of the cathedral was completed in 1496, replacing a Norman tower tower with a steeple; it is built of brick and faced with stone. The bell at the top is called Bell Harry.

Nave exterior



Through the cloisters monks could enter the chapter house, refectory, and dormitories as well as the cathedral.

The cloisters; the interior with fan vaulting

The intricate tracery of the vaulting is characteristic of the late English Gothic style (Perpendicular style). The lace-like ribs are ornamental without structural purposes. The bosses have the heraldic symbols of those who donated money for the cathedral.

The city walls

Medieval walls were built on the foundations constructed by the Romans. Today these still circle much of the central city. On the right is a mound of great antiquity with an obelisk at its summit.

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© 2002 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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