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Canterbury City Wall

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: TR145574
Latitude 51.28142° Longitude 1.07567°

Canterbury City Wall has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

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


Wall built along line of the roman wall. Rebuilt in stone from 1370's, more than half the circuit survives with bastions with early gunports and the West gate also survives. Murage granted in 1378, 1379, 1385, 1399 and 1402.

Westgate is the largest surviving city gate in England. There was a gate here at the time of the Norman Conquest. Whether there was a Roman Gate or not is still a subject of doubt; it is not clear if the settlement in those days extended as far as Westgate, though the latest deductions by the archaeologists move them to accept the existence of a Roman Westgate on this site. The early gate had over it a little parish church, that of Holy Cross. In 1379, both church and gate were taken down, the church being rebuilt in its present situation adjacent to the gate, which was reconstructed by Simon of Sudbury, the Archbishop who met his death at the hands of the revolted peasants when they occupied London in 1381. It consists of two huge drum towers, 60 feet in height, flanking a great entrance, which even nowadays is large enough to accommodate the biggest double-decker bus. The entrance was originally protected by wooden doors, a portcullis and a draw-bridge. As a mark of gratitude the Mayor and Corporation were wont to go to pray at Sudbury's tomb in the Cathedral every year, except when they were quarrelling with the monks, when they held the service under the arch of Westgate itself. In 1450, the Mayor and Citizens captured the rebel known as Bluebeard the Hermit, and handed him over to King Henry VI, who executed him and sent his head back to Canterbury as a souvenir of the episode, to be stuck on Westgate. From the 15th century the gate became the City prison. Some centuries back the guardrooms, used as cells, were lined with massive timbering, and the portcullis was formed into the top of the condemned cell erected in the main chamber over the roadway. (Urry, 1948)

A Royal licence to crenellate may have been granted in 1380 March 10 (Click on the date for details of this supposed licence.).

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated on Sunday, November 22, 2015

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