The Nave is over 600 years old. The word Nave comes from the Latin word for a ship, because the roof looks similar to the timber struts of a wooden boat. It was designed by Henry Yevele and the vault is 26.5 metres (82 feet) high. It is used for services, concerts and degree ceremonies. At the west end is a huge window filled with stained glass, much of which is over 800 years old. There are many memorials on the walls, several to soldiers and statesmen but also one to Orlando Gibbons, the famous musician who died in Canterbury in 1625. On the north side of the Nave is a beautiful 17th century marble font.
The Pulpitum Crossing
Here you can see the richly carved stone screen, called the pulpitum screen with six royal statues. In the Middle Ages, this screen would have been painted in vivid colours and had statues of the 12 apostles (they were destroyed during the Civil War in the 1640s). Look up into the fan vaulting of Bell Harry Tower. This tower was the last major addition to the Cathedral and is 500 years old. The tower is 76 metres (235 feet) tall. Notice from here the great length of the Cathedral; from east to west it is 157 metres (515 feet) long.
The Quire is used every day for services. It is over 800 years old, having been rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1174 and is the first Gothic building in the UK. The stone vault is about 18 metres (59 feet) high. Note the dark brown wooden choir stalls, most of which are Victorian. Also visible is a brass lectern, in the shape of an eagle, to support a Bible. Behind it the High Altar can be seen.
The Trinity Chapel
This splendid chapel was built over 800 years ago for the shrine of St Thomas Becket. Note the marble columns and the very ornate marble floor. Also visible are the tombs of King Henry IV (died 1413) and the Black Prince (died 1376). Many of the windows are filled with wonderful 800 year old stained glass showing some of the miracles that took place after the death of Thomas. You can also see the back of the Archbishop’s official seat which is known as St Augustine’s Chair.
This is the place where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered by four knights of King Henry II on the 29th December 1170. Within three years, he was declared a saint by the Pope. A modern altar and sculpture commemorate this savage killing. On the other side is a doorway into the Cloister by which the knights entered the Cathedral. Also visible is the screen leading to the Dean’s Chapel, which has many remarkable tombs.
The Chapter House
The Chapter House, the largest of its kind in England, with its lofty oak roof and raised seat for the Prior, was used by the monks once resident at the Cathedral. The monks would have assembled here daily to discuss the Cathedral’s business and read a chapter of their Benedictine rule.
Note the impressive and lofty ceiling dating from the early 1400s, constructed of Irish oak.
The Great Cloister
The Great Cloister connected the different parts of the monastery when the Cathedral was home to a community of monks.
Look up to see the beautiful carvings of heraldic shields and fascinating faces and animals. Today our team of stonemasons conserve the work of their medieval colleagues, but also create new carvings as intricate and beautiful as these are.
The Crypt dates back to the 11th Century, making it the oldest existing part of the Cathedral. Romanesque in style, it is the largest of its period in the country. Many of its details survive intact, including traces of contemporary wall painting in St Gabriel’s Chapel and an array of carved capitals and decorated columns.
The Eastern Crypt housed the tomb of Thomas Becket from 1170-1220, when it was moved to the Trinity Chapel above. It now houses Antony Gormley’s beautiful Transport, sculpted from medieval nails recovered during the restoration of one of the Cathedral towers.