Link to printer-friendly page

It should not be assumed that this site is publicly accessible and it may be on private property. Do not trespass.

Monument details

HER Number:TR 15 NW 784
Type of record:Listed Building
Name:CANTERBURY CASTLE

Summary

Grade I listed building. Main construction periods 1066 to 1817

Summary from record TR 15 NW 63:

A square, ruined, late 11th century tower is all that remains of the former Canterbury Castle. The Castle was constructed in the 11th century in the south-west quarter of the city. The walls of its outer bailey were demolished in the late 18th century and since 1826, when the gas and water works first moved into the area, the medieval topography has been gradually destroyed apart from the tower itself which served as a coal store. Virtually the sole surviving and visible portion of the castle is the great tower or 'keep'. Indirect evidence suggests this stone tower was designed between 1085 and 1125. Its architectural history is well documented from the reign of Henry II onwards. In 1173-4 over £100 were spent on the 'work of the castle', chiefly on the tower. It is likely that this large sum was for alterations to an existing keep rather than for its original construction. The castle was repaired between 1190 and 1193 when preparations were made to resist King Philip's threatened invasion but the castle was surrendered to Louis of France in 1216. Generally during the middle ages the castle provided for the administration of the sheriff and served as a prison. By 1335 it was largely ruinous.

Summary from record TR 15 NW 869:

Late in 1939 the Norman Castle was adapted as a public air-raid shelter and this provision was approved in January 1940. The shelter seems to have been dismantled by the start of 1942.


Grid Reference:TR 14543 57433
Map Sheet:TR15NW
Parish:CANTERBURY, CANTERBURY, KENT

Monument Types

  • SITE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1817 AD)
  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1085 AD to 1335 AD)
  • AIR RAID SHELTER (Modern - 1939 AD? to 1942 AD?)
Protected Status:Listed Building (I) 1252100: CANTERBURY CASTLE; Scheduled Monument 1005194: Canterbury Castle

Full description

If you do not understand anything on this page please contact us.

The following text is from the original listed building designation:
1. 944 CASTLE STREET (North West Side)
Canterbury Castle TR 1457 SE 8/210 3.12.49.
The remains of a square Norman keep. 2 storeys above ground level (it was reduced in height in 1817) built in bands of flints and caen stone blocks. There were originally 4 arched windows to each side. The interior has 2 cross walls and the remains of spiral staircases in the east and south-west wall. remains of fireplaces of rubble set in a herringbone pattern. The keep measures 87 by 75 feet externally and the walls are 9ft thick. Scheduled as an ancient monument. The castle stands in the south of the town just wihin the city wall, which formed the south boundary of the inner bailey.
The Keep, of standard Norman pattern, originally had a first floor via a fore building. The castle almost certainly dates from the post-Conquest period. Indirect evidence for the date of the keep suggests C 1085-1125. It was used as a prison from C1293 but by 1335 was largely ruinous.
Listing NGR: TR1455357429

Description from record TR 15 NW 63:
[TR 14545743] Canterbury Castle [NR]. (1) The remains of Canterbury Castle consist of the ruins of a square Norman keep standing two storeys above ground level. Scheduled. [See plan GP/F/54/82/8 (4)]. (2-4) The remains of the Castle, as described, are in good condition. On the E side the site of the unique Edwardian Gatehouse with its symetrical drum towers(a) is marked by a stone wall in the turf. GP/AO/65/61/1. (5) Canterbury Castle, Castle Street. The remains of a square Norman keep. 2 storeys above ground level (it was reduced in height in 1817) built in bands of flint and Caen stone blocks. There were originally 4 arched windows to each side. The interior has 2 cross walls and the remains of spiral staircases in the east and south-west wall. Remains of fireplaces of rubble set in a herringbone pattern. The keep measures 87 by 75 feet externally and the walls are 9ft thick. Scheduled as an ancient monument. (6) Canterbury Castle stood in the south of the town just within the city wall, which formed the south boundary of its inner bailey. The other defences consisted of a rectangular curtain wall with angle turrets and a ditch, entered through two gates:- one from the city to the N and from the S through the Roman Worthgate. The bailey walls and the gates were swept away in 1792 and the medieval topography was gradually destroyed. Only the keep and a small portion of the bailey wall running along the N side of Rheims Way now survive, although the ditch and wall were observed at the S end of Castle St by J Pilbrow 1868. A castle at Canterbury mentioned in Domesday may be this castle or the motte and bailey at Dane John (TR 15 NW 264). The keep, of standard Norman pattern, originally had a first floor entrance via a forebuilding. On its E side a later, probably C13/C14 forebuilding, with two round towers, leading to a ground floor entrance was excavated by G Webster in 1939. (5a above) In 1971 excavations by the Canterbury Archaeological Society on the W side of the keep located the foundations of a rectangular gatehouse central to the keep wall. In 1976 the Castle ditch was located during excavations at Rosemary Lane car park by the CAT. The approximate alignment of the bailey defences can be seen here as a break in slope of the ground surface behind oast houses S of Gas Lane. In 1977-8 a survey of upstanding remains of the keep was carried out by CAT. The castle almost certainly dates from the post-Conquest period. Indirect evidence for the date of the keep suggests c1085-1125. It was used as a prison from c1293 but by 1335 the castle was largely ruinous (see illustration card for plans). (7-21)

"A square, ruined, late 11th century tower is all that remains of the former Canterbury Castle. The Castle was constructed in the 11th century in the south-west quarter of the city. The walls of its outer bailey were demolished in the late 18th century and since 1826, when the gas and water works first moved into the area, the medieval topography has been gradually destroyed apart from the tower itself which served as a coal store. Virtually the sole surviving and visible portion of the castle is the great tower or 'keep'. Indirect evidence suggests this stone tower was designed between 1085 and 1125. Its architectural history is well documented from the reign of Henry II onwards. In 1173-4 over £100 were spent on the 'work of the castle', chiefly on the tower. It is likely that this large sum was for alterations to an existing keep rather than for its original construction. The castle was repaired between 1190 and 1193 when preparations were made to resist King Philip's threatened invasion but the castle was surrendered to Louis of France in 1216. Generally during the middle ages the castle provided for the administration of the sheriff and served as a prison. By 1335 it was largely ruinous." (22)

Description from record TR 15 NW 869:
Early in September 1939 the Canterbury Emergency Committee proposed ‘to equip the Norman Castle as an additional public shelter for 220 persons by sandbagging the internal walls and suitably covering the roof with earth. (It is well known that excavation for civil-defence purposes around the base of the castle walls resulted in a number of archaeological discoveries.) The shelter was approved in January 1940, but seems to have been dismantled by the start of 1942 - replaced by Nissen-hut shelters elsewhere in the Castle Grounds. Early in 1940 the gate in the Castle fence was kept locked but ‘a key to the entrance [was] placed in a glass [fronted?] box, in a conspicuous position from which it could be obtained in emergency by breaking the glass’. Late in 1940 the Canterbury Gas and Water Company posted a roof -watcher on the wall of the Castle, to monitor the Gas Works; they requested a sandbagged enclosure to be erected here.
Owner : Public
Publicly accessible : Yes
How accessed for survey :
Tourism Potential :
Condition : unknown
Date of visit :

From the Register of Scheduled Monuments:

Mentioned in Domesday Book, used as a prison until 1577. Buildings graduall fell into decay.

Outer bailey, bailey wall and ditch threatened by building proposals. Line of these defences known from a redevelopment trench in 1974 and excavations in 1975-6.

Shell of keep stands in public garden bounded to NE by Gas st,. The SE by Castle St,. And SW by city wall. The rest and greater part of the outer baliey now lies under car park and modern development.(23-33)


Field report for monument TQ 56 SW 8 - October, 1964 (Bibliographic reference). SKE2971.

FING -15 -1. Types: CEMETERY (Photograph). SKE729.

English Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Map). SKE16160.

Man, J R: Norman Keep, Canterbury Castle, Kent (Collection). SKE6538.

Canterbury City Council Emergency Committee, 01/01/39, Canterbury City Council Emergency Committee Minute Books 1 to 6 (Unpublished document). SKE14896.

Williamson C., 01/01/46, Though the Streets Burn (Bibliographic reference). SKE14897.

Ministry of Works, 1961, Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings in the care of the Ministry of Works: Open to the public/Great Britain (Monograph). SKE29714.

<1> OS 1/2500 1957 (OS Card Reference). SKE48127.

<2> MHLG 944/11/A Mar 62 13 (OS Card Reference). SKE47103.

<3> AM Eng & Wales 1961 59 (OS Card Reference). SKE33010.

<4> Arch J 86 1930 243-7 plans illusts (G Horne) (OS Card Reference). SKE36732.

<5> F1 FGA 19-DEC-65 (OS Card Reference). SKE42944.

<6> DOE (HHR) Dist of City of Cant Kent Sept 1973 53 (OS Card Reference). SKE40208.

<7> The English Castle 1936 35 38 (H Brown) (OS Card Reference). SKE50343.

<8> Hist of the King's Works 2 1963 588-90 (RA Brown HM Colvin AJ Taylor) (OS Card Reference). SKE44036.

<9> Arch J 32 1875 490-494 (OS Card Reference). SKE36611.

<10> Arch 6 1782 298-310 (E King) (OS Card Reference). SKE34436.

<11> Arch 4 1778 390-92 (E King) (OS Card Reference). SKE34405.

<12> BOE North East and East Kent 1983 246 (S Newman) (OS Card Reference). SKE38263.

<13> The Castles of Gt Britain 1953 72-74 (S Toy) (OS Card Reference). SKE50263.

<14> Cant Arch Trust Ann Rep 3 1978-79 18 (T Tatton-Brown) (OS Card Reference). SKE38501.

<15> Arch Cant 87 1972 205-208 (L Millard) (OS Card Reference). SKE35885.

<16> Arch J 126 1969 238-239 Plan (DF Renn) (OS Card Reference). SKE36547.

<17> Arch Cant 92 1976 248 (T Tatton-Brown) (OS Card Reference). SKE36098.

<18> Med Arch 16 1972 181 (LE Webster and J Cherry) (OS Card Reference). SKE46733.

<19> Arch Cant Vol 1 Excavs at Canterbury Castle 1982 1--236 (P Bennett SS Frere & S Stow) (OS Card Reference). SKE36369.

<20> Early Norman Castles 1912 116-21 396 (ES Armitage) (OS Card Reference). SKE41567.

<21> Mil Architecture in Eng during the Middle Ages 1912 46 120 128 (AH Thompson) (OS Card Reference). SKE47200.

<22> Victor Smith and Andrew Saunders, 2001, Kent's Defence Heritage (Unpublished document). SKE6956.

<23> English Heritage, Register of Scheduled Monuments (Scheduling record). SKE16191.

<24> Brown, R, A., Colvin, H, M., Taylor, A, J., 1963, The History of the King's Works Vol.1 and 2 (Monograph). SKE7875.

<25> King, E, 1782, Title Unknown (Article in serial). SKE29717.

<26> John Newman, 1969, The Buildings of England: North East and East Kent (Monograph). SKE7874.

<27> Horne, G., 1930, Title Unknown (Article in serial). SKE29721.

<28> Brown, H., 1936, The English Castle (Monograph). SKE29724.

<29> King, E. M., 1778, Title Unknown (Article in serial). SKE29725.

<30> Armitage, E. S., 1912, Early Norman Castles (Monograph). SKE29726.

<31> Renn, D. F., 1969, Title Unknown (Article in serial). SKE29727.

<32> Toy, S., 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Monograph). SKE29728.

<33> Thompson, A. H., 1912, Military Architecture in England during the Middle Ages (Monograph). SKE29729.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
---Unpublished document: Canterbury City Council Emergency Committee. 01/01/39. Canterbury City Council Emergency Committee Minute Books 1 to 6.
---Bibliographic reference: Williamson C.. 01/01/46. Though the Streets Burn.
---Map: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
---Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 56 SW 8 - October, 1964.
---Monograph: Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings in the care of the Ministry of Works: Open to the public/Great Britain.
---Collection: Man, J R: Norman Keep, Canterbury Castle, Kent.
---Photograph: FING -15 -1. Types: CEMETERY. P41975. Black and White. Print.
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 1/2500 1957.
<2>OS Card Reference: MHLG 944/11/A Mar 62 13.
<3>OS Card Reference: AM Eng & Wales 1961 59.
<4>OS Card Reference: Arch J 86 1930 243-7 plans illusts (G Horne).
<5>OS Card Reference: F1 FGA 19-DEC-65.
<6>OS Card Reference: DOE (HHR) Dist of City of Cant Kent Sept 1973 53.
<7>OS Card Reference: The English Castle 1936 35 38 (H Brown).
<8>OS Card Reference: Hist of the King's Works 2 1963 588-90 (RA Brown HM Colvin AJ Taylor).
<9>OS Card Reference: Arch J 32 1875 490-494.
<10>OS Card Reference: Arch 6 1782 298-310 (E King).
<11>OS Card Reference: Arch 4 1778 390-92 (E King).
<12>OS Card Reference: BOE North East and East Kent 1983 246 (S Newman).
<13>OS Card Reference: The Castles of Gt Britain 1953 72-74 (S Toy).
<14>OS Card Reference: Cant Arch Trust Ann Rep 3 1978-79 18 (T Tatton-Brown).
<15>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 87 1972 205-208 (L Millard).
<16>OS Card Reference: Arch J 126 1969 238-239 Plan (DF Renn).
<17>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 92 1976 248 (T Tatton-Brown).
<18>OS Card Reference: Med Arch 16 1972 181 (LE Webster and J Cherry).
<19>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant Vol 1 Excavs at Canterbury Castle 1982 1--236 (P Bennett SS Frere & S Stow).
<20>OS Card Reference: Early Norman Castles 1912 116-21 396 (ES Armitage).
<21>OS Card Reference: Mil Architecture in Eng during the Middle Ages 1912 46 120 128 (AH Thompson).
<22>Unpublished document: Victor Smith and Andrew Saunders. 2001. Kent's Defence Heritage.
<23>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Register of Scheduled Monuments.
<24>Monograph: Brown, R, A., Colvin, H, M., Taylor, A, J.. 1963. The History of the King's Works Vol.1 and 2.
<25>Article in serial: King, E. 1782. Title Unknown.
<26>Monograph: John Newman. 1969. The Buildings of England: North East and East Kent.
<27>Article in serial: Horne, G.. 1930. Title Unknown.
<28>Monograph: Brown, H.. 1936. The English Castle.
<29>Article in serial: King, E. M.. 1778. Title Unknown.
<30>Monograph: Armitage, E. S.. 1912. Early Norman Castles.
<31>Article in serial: Renn, D. F.. 1969. Title Unknown.
<32>Monograph: Toy, S.. 1953. The Castles of Great Britain.
<33>Monograph: Thompson, A. H.. 1912. Military Architecture in England during the Middle Ages.

Related records

TR 15 NW 114Parent of: Great Hall (Monument)
TR 15 NW 1515Part of: Canterbury castle (sub-surface remains of) (Monument)

Related thematic articles