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Gargoyles return to Canterbury

The first new gargoyle in over a hundred years has been installed on Canterbury Cathedral.

It is one of eight carved stone gargoyles that will return to the roof as part of the current restoration project, The Canterbury Journey.

Cathedral stonemasons Steve Manuel and Ian Gartside were tasked with designing and handcrafting the gargoyles.

Steve said “Ian and I are carving four each and they’re all different. Our brief was to use the lion bosses on the Nave ceiling as a starting point and then we could have a bit of ‘artistic licence’ with the designs to give them a twist and use our creative skills.

A 15th century boss from the Nave ceiling, which inspired the new designs

“I’ve made much smaller things featuring lions but nothing of this size so it’s good to have something you can get your teeth into.

“We designed each gargoyle in clay first so they can be reviewed by the Cathedral’s planning bodies for approval before we cast them in plaster and then carve them from a single block of Caen stone. The whole process can take up to two months for each one so it’s great to see them finally going up.

The first of eight new gargoyles to be installed on the building

This gargoyle was designed and carved by Cathedral stonemason, Ian Gartside


Gargoyles are intricately carved drain openings that direct water away from the building. They usually depict heads of animals, mythical beasts and people, not to be confused with grotesques which serve no purpose other than for aesthetics.

Mark Hosea, Project Director commented: “The gargoyles are fantastic examples of the stonemason’s expertise and skill and have inspired other members of the public to create their own gargoyles at our community events. We can’t wait to see new beautifully carved gargoyles on the building once again.

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