St Margaret's Church - Canterbury, Kent, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 16.689 E 001° 04.787
31U E 366071 N 5682508
Quick Description: This church, founded in the 12th century, is located on the north west side of St Margaret's Street in Canterbury. The cobblestone building no longer serves as a place of worship but is a tourist attraction named "The Canterbury Tales".
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 2/1/2014 11:19:03 AM
Waymark Code: WMK22P
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member BarbershopDru
Views: 2

Long Description:

The building is Grade II* listed with the entry at the English Heritage website telling us:

Former parish church. C12 in origin but rebuilt in C15 and heavily restored C1850 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Faced with knapped flint with stone dressings and tiled roof. 3 bay nave with chancel reduced to a polygonal apse by Scott for road widening, north and south aisles and south west tower. South west tower has C15 lower stage with clasping buttresses and octagonal turret added by Scott, and squarish bell stage with lancets and crenellated parapet recon- structed after bomb damage in 1942. Nave is C15 restored with west gable end with Decorated style traceried window by Scott and west doorway which is a Scott copy of the Mid C12 doorway with shafts and billet on the hood mould. Aisles are also C15 altered by Scott and have Decorated style windows. Continuous plinth moulding. Interior has 3 bay nave with 4 bay crownpost roof. Aisles have reconstructed octagonal piers and a double wave on the arches. Early C14 piscina in south wall of North chapel. Good monuments including Sir George Newman (d 1627), a large wall monument at east end of south aisle with effigy in legal robes reclining on one side set in architectural surround including columns, open pediment and scrolls flanking the inscription. Joseph Colfe (d 1620) an architectural wall tablet and John Watson (d 1642) in the South wall, a half-figure facing the front in architectural niche wearing a ruff and resting his left hand on a skull. There are a series of good C17 and C18 wall plaques including one to John Barret and Paul Lukin (d 1709) a big architectural tablet with mourning putti signed by John Friend. Brass to John Wynter, twice Mayor of Canterbury (d 1470) in civilian dress. The church was built on the remains of Roman public baths. At first belonging to St Augustine's Abbey the church was given to the Poor Priests Hospital in 1271 in whose hands it remained until 1575.

The Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society website tells us:

St Margaret's is now a redundant church, but is probably the most visited church in Canterbury in its modern role as an audio–visual  tourist attraction based on  Geoffrey Chaucer's  “Canterbury Tales”.

St Margaret's church was founded in the 12th century, though much of the present structure dates from the 14th century when it was developed as a perpendicular style 3 aisle church with a  stone and flint exterior.  In 1791 the  chancel  and eastern end of the aisles were  truncated to allow horse drawn coaches to swing into the gate of the prestigious Royal Fountain Hotel exactly opposite. Around 1850 the interior was refurbished in the Victorian style, the pitched roofs added to the aisles  and the chancel developed into the polygonal form that can be seen today by Sir Gilbert Scott. It became redundant in 1942 and was a church for the deaf until being converted into the Canterbury Tales visitor attraction in 1986. Since then the  interior has been completely obscured by the exhibition, but photographs from 1942 of the original church can be accessed at the link below. These include an image of a  monument to William Somner, the famous Canterbury historian and compiler of the first Anglo-Saxon dictionary, who died in 1669.

What to see:

  • The exterior of the church showing the perpendicular windows to the south wall.
  • The eastern end of the church showing how precisely the nave and aisles have been truncated to the revised street line.
  • The highly decorative neo-gothic polygonal eastern apse from 1850.
  • The western facade and perpendicular tower with a Victorian external staircase.
  • The only remains of the  original mid 12th century church is the heavily restored Romanesque west door.

Access:  The church can be viewed externally at all times, but the interior is now completely obscured.

City, Town, Village Name: Canterbury

Building Usage: Tourist attraction - The Canterbury Tales

Public or Private: Private

Tours Available?: yes

Website: [Web Link]

Architectural style: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Original photo of the building is necessary to log a visit in this category, no photos of GPS or person required.
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