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Doorway to Success: The West Gate, Canterbury

The West Gate in Canterbury is England's largest medieval gate and the only survivor of Canterbury's seven original gateways.

The West Gate is a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument. Because its protected, when repairs were needed to a rotten door recently, Canterbury City Council had to apply for Scheduled Monument Consent to carry out the work.

Large wooden door and metal bolts with a label with words '1380 North Tower Cell' on it.
The door in the tower before repair © Historic England

The North Tower door had been suffering from serious decay so a significant amount of wood had to be replaced. Historic England provided advice to Canterbury City Council and the contractor, Hipperson, about the significance of the door to help inform their approach to the repairs.

Remains of wooden door propped up against a table in the workshop
The true extent of decay revealed in the workshop © Historic England

During the repairs, the conservator uncovered what experts think could be wartime graffiti. The find demonstrates the complex history of this iconic landmark and much-loved visitor attraction. Since it was first built around 1377 it has been used as a prison (in the 19th century). It was also one the place where public executions took place.

We would like to thank the council for commissioning the work and Hipperson for the excellent repair they carried out. They've kept the original character of the door intact and we hope visitors to the Westgate will enjoy seeing it back in place and fully functional.

Restored wooden door with a grill on the door opening
The repaired door back in its rightful place © Historic England
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