Free afternoon entry to celebrate re-opening of the Grade I-listed main entrance following extensive conservation and restoration.
Cathedral's Restored, Iconic Christ Church Gate Revealed
Canterbury Cathedral’s magnificent Christ Church Gate, the Grade I-listed main entrance to the Cathedral Precincts for over five centuries, and part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, will be revealed on Friday 2 December 2022, when scaffolding is removed following extensive conservation and restoration work.
Completed circa 1520 and traditionally one of Canterbury’s most photographed sights, the Tudor Gothic Gate has been under cover since 2018 whilst essential structural repairs and work to protect and revive its intricate carvings and gilded stonework was undertaken.
Now, thanks to the extraordinary work of the Cathedral’s in-house teams, visitors will be able to see the Gate’s breath-taking features restored to glory. These include intricate carvings of mythical beasts, flora and fauna, angels, heraldic shields - including the arms of Archbishop Thomas Becket and Cardinal Wolsey – and the great central boss, comprised of a large rose surrounded by a procession of animals.
One of the most striking features to be revealed will be the Gate’s vibrant colour scheme. This is based on detailed archival research into heraldry and the Gate’s earlier decorative schemes (known as polychromy), examination of historic painting and gilding techniques, and comparisons with other contemporary early 16th-century heraldic paint schemes at Winchester Cathedral and St. Georges Chapel Windsor.
Canterbury Cathedral’s masons and conservators have employed the latest technology with traditional conservation techniques to clean and conserve both the surviving original fabric and the work of the previous, early-20th Century restoration. Skills have been acquired here that will be of benefit for years to come.
Free afternoon entry - Friday 2 December
Whilst work on Christ Church Gate will continue into Spring 2023 - including the reinstallation of the Welcoming Christ statue, and further restoration of the lower faces of the Gate – visitors can enjoy free entry to the Cathedral and its stunning grounds on the afternoon of Friday 2 December in celebration of the major milestone of the façade being revealed.
There will be musical performances by the Cathedral’s Choral Scholars, free hire of our new Media Guide (subject to availability), the brand new Gregory Gargoyle Christmas Trail, and the chance to see our beautiful Christmas decorations and Nativity crib. Everyone is also welcome to attend our Choral Evensong service at 17.30.
The open afternoon is a great opportunity to discover the Cathedral’s many other expertly-restored spaces and new additions – including three exhibitions, our Visitor Centre, Shop, and public viewing gallery - made possible by The Canterbury Journey, the ambitious multi-million pound project funded by a major grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, matched by funds raised by Canterbury Cathedral Trust. This includes a very special grant from The Michael Uren Foundation for works on the Christ Church Gate. Our thanks go to Sir Michael Uren and the many supporters of The Canterbury Journey including the Chapter of Canterbury, the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, and other members of our worldwide community.
Open Afternoon – 2nd December 2022
- Free entry to the Cathedral and Precincts from 14.00-16.30;
- Musical performances by the Cathedral’s Choral Scholars;
- See the Cathedral’s Christmas decorations and Nativity crib;
- New Gregory Gargoyle Christmas Trail for young explorers;
- Free Media Guide hire from 14.00-15.30 (subject to availability);
- The Cathedral Church building closes after Choral Evensong but The Precincts will be open and free to visit until 21.00.
Christ Church Gate was the subject of one of JMW Turner’s watercolours in 1792
The Gate was last cleaned and repaired in the 1930s. Recent analysis revealed several earlier decorative schemes preserved beneath this work
- The Gate was last cleaned and repaired in the 1930s, under the direction of W.D. Caröe, the Cathedral’s architect, and funded by The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral. Its painted decoration was restored shortly after by Dr Ernest William Tristram. Recent analysis revealed several earlier decorative paint schemes preserved beneath Tristram’s work.
- Supporting the Cathedral’s in-house team of crafts experts throughout the project were the Canterbury Archaeological Trust (Archaeological Recording), Cathedral Architect and Purcell (Conservation Architect), The Morton Partnership (Structural Engineer), Artelia (PM and Cost Consultancy), and McNeilage Conservation (Polychromy).
- About The National Lottery Heritage Fund: Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.
Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK.