St Augustines Abbey, Canterbury

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Royal/Other), and also as a Certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSt Augustines Abbey, Canterbury
Alternative NamesThe Kings House; Fyndon's Gateway; The Great Gatehouse
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishCanterbury

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

Gatehouse Comments

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.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTR154577
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 202, 309
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 309
  • Gem, Richard et al, 1997, English Heritage book of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury (Batsford and English Heritage) p. 129, 143
  • Thurley, Simon, 1993, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England (Yale University Press) p. 50, 56-7(plan), 163
  • Sherlock, D. and Woods, H., 1988, St Augustine's Abbey : report on excavations, 1960-78 (Kent Archaeological Society monograph series Vol. 4) p. 10-14, 87
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works, Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) (London) p. 59-63
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 331-3 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 406 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1853, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 287 online copy


  • Coulson, Charles, 2007-8, 'On Crenellating, in Kent and Beyond - A Retrospection' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 21 p. 189-201 esp p. 194
  • Sparks, M., 1984, Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 100 p. 325, 330, 335-6, 343-4 online copy
  • Tatton-Brown, T., 1984, Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 100 p. 181 online copy
  • Sparks, M. and Tatton-Brown, T., 1983, Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 99 p. 250 online copy
  • Coulson, C., 1982, 'Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation: An Essay in the Sociology and Metaphysics of Medieval Fortification' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 69-100 see online copy
  • Potts, R.U., 1934, 'The plan of St Austin's Abbey, Canterbury' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 46 p. 182 online copy
  • Potts, R.U., 1927, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 84 p. 463 online copy
  • Orger, J., 1884, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 40 p. 15-27 online copy

Guide Books

  • _St Augustine's Abbey_ (English Heritage)
  • Sparks, M., 1990, St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, Kent p. 12-13
  • Clapham, Sir Alfred, 1955, St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, Kent p. 5-7
  • Ewell, R., 1896, Guide to St. Augustine's Monastery and Missionary College (Canterbury: Cross and Jackman) online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1307-13) Vol. 1 p. 144 online copy
  • Cronne, H.A. and Davis, R.H.C. (eds), 1968, Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum Vol. 3 p. 59 online copy


  • Thurley, Simon, 1991, English Royal Palaces, 1450-1550 (unpub PhD thesis; London) p. 256-9 (available via EThOS)