Canterbury Archeological Trust

Building recording at No 2 High Street
R. W. Austin


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Map of the area Late medieval Canterbury had a large number of inns, taverns and lodging houses, the most famous of which was the great courtyard inn to the west of Mercery Lane, known as the `Cheker of the Hope'. Begun in 1392 the work took three years, and cost 867 14s 4d to complete. The inn was being erected during the last few years of Geoffrey Chaucer's life and is mentioned in an early fifteenth century continuation of the Canterbury Tales (not written by Chaucer), The Prologue to the Tale of Beryn.

Most of the eastern side of this magnificent inn survives, though regrettably approximately half of the total structure was destroyed in a great fire on 22nd August 1865. The inn itself, a large three storeyed, jettied building, with galleried internal court, incorporated an impressive stone arcade on the ground floor which still survives at the corner of Mercery Lane and the High Street.

No.2 High Street (Hiltons) and adjoining properties to the east are all contained within the surviving fabric of the Cheker. Refitting of the ground floor shop enabled additional information to be added to the existing survey of the building. Floor framing above the shop was largely intact, comprising double wall plates with closely set joists jettied over the former stone arcade. Chamfers on the inner wall-plate indicate the arrangement of doors and windows in the original facade. Although only fragments of a door jamb remain, partial restoration of the stone facade has since been possible. Cavetto moulding

Access to the cellars of the western range (before its destruction in 1865) was through a passage below the principal entry giving onto the inner court from the High Street. The doorway to the passage survives in the cellar below Hiltons This doorway is dressed with shallow cavetto mouldings similar to those used on the facade above. Two substantial posts, resting on stone pads in Hiltons cellar, still support fabric rising over fifty feet from the basement floor. Mortices in the underside of a first floor tie-beam now the west wall of Hiltons indicate the position of the east side of the entry giving onto the inn's inner court. Side elevation

Hiltons, like all the existing properties incorporated within the Cheker, displays many phases of repair. alteration and refurbishment, some of them extremely destructive. The insertion of later fireplaces, and piecemeal partitioning with total disregard for the integrity of the building, has resulted in severe structural failures, the appropriate remedy for which is to restore framework which has been removed. The new shop now boasts many fine details of Canterbury's most famous Pilgrim Inn and has assured the survival of this section for many years to come Our thanks are extended to George Oliver (Footwear) PLC for financing the building recording work.

See this place today Click on the logo to see this place today.   The information on this page is Copyright © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd. 1989 Reproduced with permission.
The text and pictures were taken from Canterbury's Archaeology 1987/1988, The 12th Annual Report of Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.


Peter Collinson Last change: 7th September 2008