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Monument details

HER Number:TR 15 NW 693
Type of record:Listed Building
Name:THE WEST GATE

Summary

Grade I listed building. Main construction periods 1380 to 1899

Summary from record TR 15 NW 688:

The West Gate is, and was, Canterbury’s last remaining medieval gate. Military and civil-defence personnel had to share this building for much of the Second World War. Its civil-defence uses included the use of a room in the gateway as an emergency police control room, and of the battlements to house a siren, and also, later, as an observer post.

Summary from record TR 15 NW 155:

West Gate. Former site of the Church of the Holy Cross.


Grid Reference:TR 14599 58088
Map Sheet:TR15NW
Parish:CANTERBURY, CANTERBURY, KENT

Monument Types

  • GATE (GATE, Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • CHURCH (CHURCH, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GATE (GATE, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SITE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1380 AD to 1899 AD)
  • CIVIL DEFENCE BUILDING (Modern - 1939 AD? to 1945 AD?)
Protected Status:Listed Building (I) 1241660: THE WEST GATE

Full description

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The following text is from the original listed building designation:
1. 944 ST DUNSTAN'S STREET
The west Gate TR 1458 SE 2/100 3.12.49.
I
2. The only remaining gate of the City. 1380. Ragstone gateway with ribbed vaulting and chamber over flanked by 2 circular towers on its west front. Machicolation between the towers, Castellated parapet. Loop lights except on the east side which has a 2-light window with mullion and transom and an iron grill on the lst floor. Buttresses at file north east and north west corners Stair turret on north side leads to a 1st floor chamber, used as a prison in the C19. The Guardroom has a fine C19 fireback, dated 1649 with lion, Tudor Rose and fleur de lis motifs. Public executions were carried out outside the West Gate. Scheduled as an AM.
Listing NGR: TR1460058087

Description from record TR 15 NW 688:
The West Gate is, and was, Canterbury’s last remaining medieval gate. Military and civil-defence personnel had to share this building for much of the Second World War. Its military use as a fortified house, commanding a roadblock equipped with a flame trap and fougasse is described in a separate entry. Around the time of the Munich Crisis, preceding the Second World War, the Canterbury Air-Raid Precautions Committee applied for a grant to adapt ‘a room in the Westgate Towers for use by the Police as an emergency control room’; this was carried out, and, in late October 1939, the room was provided with improved ventilation. The Westgate was obviously ideal for such a use, since it stood adjacent to the City Police Station in Pound Lane, with which it communicated by means of a first-floor footbridge. The loftiness and position of the gate made its battlements suitable for use to house a siren, and also, later, as an observer post. The siren here may well have been erected before the outbreak of war; it is attested from late October 1939 from which time it was tested silently each week. As the winter of 1940 drew on, it was provided with heating equipment to prevent it from freezing-up. An observation post was established on the battlements, by the Chief Constable, around mid October 1940 ‘in pursuance of Fire Brigade Circular No. 124/1940’. An order was given to ‘provide weatherproof accommodation on the summit of the towers.’ This took the form of a small octagonal lantern fixed over the projecting stair turret. A telephone extension was provided from the Police Control Room below. At first, the observer post may have been wholly for civil-defence purposes. In mid 1942, it seems to have been joined by military observers, monitoring ‘enemy air activity during the hours of darkness’ and provided with a telephone line directly to the Royal Observer Corps Centre. Military and civil-defence personnel at the gate seem to have cooperated well. In late September 1945 it was ordered that the observation tower be removed. As one of the most striking surviving features of Canterbury’s medieval defensive circuit, the Westgate was an important symbol during the Second World War (like a diminuitive, English equivalent of the Holstentor in Luebeck), and made an obvious site for propaganda purposes. Huge billboards combining medieval and modern imagery were hung from the battlements.
Owner : Public
Publicly accessible : Yes
How accessed for survey :
Tourism Potential :
Condition : unknown
Date of visit :

Description from record TR 15 NW 155:
[TR 14595808] West Gate [NR]. (1) A pre-Norman chapel [TR 15 NW 322] stood upon an earlier West Gate suggesting it to have been of Roman origin. Rebuilt in 1375-81. GP F/54/86/5 (2). (2-3) Present West Gate is entirely of 14thc appearance (photo). (4) The present West Gate, dating from c1380, is a rebuild of an earlier, probably Roman, gate which had over it the Church of the Holy Cross [TR 15 NW 322]. When the gate was rebuilt the Church of the Holy Cross was resited inside the city walls where it stands today [TR 15 NW 8]. Full architectural description of West Gate. (5) The West Gate. Grade I. (6) The first ever survey of West Gate has been made of all parts of the building at 1/50. (7) The West Gate, built 1375-80, much restored in 19th century. (8) Additional bibliography. (9-10)

In 2011/2012 an assessment was made of the condition of the stone work (11)


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

Canterbury City Council Emergency Committee, 01/01/39, Canterbury City Council Emergency Committee Minute Books 1 to 6 (Unpublished document). SKE14727.

<1> OS 1:2500 (OS Card Reference). SKE48196.

<2> Arch J 86 1930 243 270-8 (G Home) (OS Card Reference). SKE36731.

<3> Ro Canterbury 1959 (S Frere) (OS Card Reference). SKE49268.

<4> F1 FGA 27-JAN-65 (OS Card Reference). SKE42991.

<5> Arch of Cant 2 1982 107-19 plans and elevations The West Gate (T Tatton-Brown John Bowen) (OS Card Reference). SKE36821.

<6> DOE (HHR) City of Canterbury Kent Sept 1973 207 (OS Card Reference). SKE40037.

<7> CAT Ann Rep 51980-1 16 (T Tatton-Brown) (OS Card Reference). SKE38677.

<8> Hist Builds Survey Cant City Council/RCHME 57035 6 of 29 (OS Card Reference). SKE43891.

<9> Canterbury's Archaeology 1987-88 15 16 (P Bennett, J Anderson) (OS Card Reference). SKE38577.

<10> CAT Ann Rep 1982-3 22-23 (P Bennett) (OS Card Reference). SKE38665.

<11> Stonewest, 2013, Report on Stonework Condition & Remedial Treatment West Gate Towers Canterbury, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (Unpublished document). SKE52387.

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.
---Map: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 1:2500.
<2>OS Card Reference: Arch J 86 1930 243 270-8 (G Home).
<3>OS Card Reference: Ro Canterbury 1959 (S Frere).
<4>OS Card Reference: F1 FGA 27-JAN-65.
<5>OS Card Reference: Arch of Cant 2 1982 107-19 plans and elevations The West Gate (T Tatton-Brown John Bowen).
<6>OS Card Reference: DOE (HHR) City of Canterbury Kent Sept 1973 207.
<7>OS Card Reference: CAT Ann Rep 51980-1 16 (T Tatton-Brown).
<8>OS Card Reference: Hist Builds Survey Cant City Council/RCHME 57035 6 of 29.
<9>OS Card Reference: Canterbury's Archaeology 1987-88 15 16 (P Bennett, J Anderson).
<10>OS Card Reference: CAT Ann Rep 1982-3 22-23 (P Bennett).
<11>Unpublished document: Stonewest. 2013. Report on Stonework Condition & Remedial Treatment West Gate Towers Canterbury, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.

Related records

TR 15 NW 116Part of: Canterbury city walls (Monument)

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