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St Augustines Abbey, Canterbury

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Kings House; Fyndon's Gateway; The Great Gatehouse

In the civil parish of Canterbury.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TR15415778
Latitude 51.27903° Longitude 1.08692°

St Augustines Abbey, Canterbury has been described as a certain Palace, and also as a certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of St Augustine's Abbey, situated to the east of Canterbury's city wall, in the area defined by Longport to the south, Monastery Street to the west and Havelock Street and North Holmes Road to the north. It includes the remains of successive periods of the abbey's development as well as Henry VIII's royal palace (constructed following the Dissolution) and evidence of Anglo-Saxon and prehistoric occupation discovered in the course of excavations within and adjacent to the precinct. The southern part of the monument (including the exposed foundations of the abbey church and claustral range) is in the care of the Secretary of State and is on display to the public. The northern part of the abbey precinct is largely overlain by modern buildings including those of Christ Church College and St Augustine's College (the King's School). The eastern part is overlain by Canterbury Prison and the County Court. Areas within the wider precinct which have not been subjected to significant modern development are included in the scheduling. ... In the 13th century the northern claustral range (Listed Grade I), including the lavatorium, frater and kitchen, was totally rebuilt, the lavatorium including a water tower supplied from a conduit house (the subject of a separate scheduling) on St Martin's Hill to the east of the site. The cellarium, in the western range of the cloister buildings, became the site of a new abbot's lodging with a great hall to the north. The Great Court was enlarged and a new main gate in the western precinct wall - the Fyndon Gate (Listed Grade I) - was completed, together with a guest hall, in 1309. During this century the chapter house, adjoining the northern transept of the church, was also rebuilt. Expansion of the precinct to the north allowed the construction of an outer court with a cellarer's range, brewhouse and bakehouse, and, by 1320, a walled vineyard. The western gable of the brewhouse and bakehouse stands adjacent to Coleridge House and is Listed Grade II. Expansion also took place on the eastern side of the abbey where a series of lodgings was added to the infirmary and a new walled cellarer's garden was laid out in the south eastern corner of the precinct. The precinct wall was rebuilt and a new cemetery gate put up in 1390 by the sacrist, Thomas of Ickham. The gate, which has been heavily remodelled, still stands to the south west of the abbey church remains and is a Listed Building Grade I. Thomas also donated bells to the church and to a bell tower which is thought to have been situated on the mound located in the south eastern area of the site. Excavations here in 1964 revealed foundation walls for what was probably a timber framed structure similar to that which survives at Brookland near Appledore. ... In 1538 John Essex, last abbot of St Augustine's, surrendered the abbey to the King's Commissioners. Unlike many ecclesiastical properties following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, St Augustine's was retained by the Crown and, in 1539, some of the buildings of the Great Court were converted to a royal residence in advance of the arrival of Anne of Cleves. The abbot's lodgings, situated on the eastern side of the Great Court, were adapted to provide accommodation for Henry VIII and his chaplain, with a hall for guests. A new building for Anne of Cleves was put up on the south side abutting part of the north wall of the church and of the north western tower (known as Ethelbert's Tower). In addition, a rectangular area immediately to the west of the church was enclosed by a wall extending south from the west door to the north wall of the sacrist's yard, forming the King's Privy Garden. (Scheduling Report)

World Heritage Site 496

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1308 Oct 25 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).
It has been incorrectly suggested that a Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1135-40.


The Abbot was granted a licence to crenellate in 1308 for quandam cameram ultra portam. This is translated in the PRO calendar as 'a chamber, which he is building without the gate of the abbey' although ultra may well, in this licence mean above the gate. The most obvious surviving 'fortified' element from this period is Fyndon's Gateway (The Great Gateway) which well fits with this description. The listing report dates the gatehouse from 1283-1309 showing, as quite usual, the licence was obtained after the building was finished. A suggested licence to the priory reportedly granted by King Stephen in 1135-40, is almost certainly a forgery, although some similar 'forgeries' of this period represent 'copies' of lost documents.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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