Tower of St Magdalene's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Canterbury (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TR 15117 57772


Tower of St Mary Magdalene’s church, 30m north of St Thomas’s Church and Hall.

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible.

Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

Despite later alterations, the Tower of St Magdalene's church survives well with a considerable amount of original upstanding masonry including some significant medieval architectural details such as the cinquefoil-headed lights. The site will contain below-ground archaeological information relating to the construction, use and history of the church.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 December 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes the medieval tower of the parish church of St Mary Magdalene surviving as upstanding and below-ground remains. It is situated on the south side of Burgate within the city walls of Canterbury.

The church tower is four storeys high, square in plan and constructed of Kentish ragstone ashlar and flint. It originally engaged with the north-west corner of the church. There are wide pointed stone arches to the original nave and north aisle. These are enclosed with modern glass screens, which are excluded from the scheduling. In the north wall is a doorcase with decorated spandrels above which are one two-light and two single-light cinquefoil-headed lights. There is a single cinquefoil-headed light in the east wall above the arch to the church. The tower has a pyramidal tiled roof. Within the interior of the tower is a Baroque stone memorial of the Whitfield family, dating from about 1680. The walls of the church still survive as upstanding remains in places. To the south-west of the tower is random and ashlar flint walling with traces of a stair to a first floor doorway in the south face of the tower.

The parish church of St Mary Magdalene dates to at least the 13th century although the tower was constructed in about 1503. Much of the church was demolished in 1871. The tower was restored in 1974.

The upstanding remains are Grade II listed.

Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally accessed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
KE 34
Legacy System:


Cawley, D, The lost churches and bells of Canterbury (2004), accessed 20 Jan 2010 from
NMR TR15NE91. PastScape 464433. LBS 170469.


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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