Canterbury Archeological Trust

The Mint Yard Gate
Rupert Austin

Hillside Systems

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Date from gate The remains of the former Mint Yard Gate can be seen along the east side of Northgate in the wall of the present King's School Gymnasium. Some of its decorative Tudor brickwork, which dates from the middle of the sixteenth century, still survives. This fabric, albeit in a decayed and dirty condition, represents some of the earliest surviving brickwork in Canterbury. The only comparable example within the city is the Roper Gate, St Dunstan's, which predates the Mint Yard gate by a couple of decades. A drawn survey of the gateway was undertaken in anticipation of its restoration.

Behind the former gate was an area of the Precincts known as the Mint Yard of the King's School. The yard, formerly the Almonry Yard of Christ Church Priory, derives its name from a mint which coined money for the Crown between 1540 and 1550.

All that now survives of the gate is a blocked brick arch and two sections of decorative brickwork. The arch is roughly formed around four centres and comprises four courses of headers laid on edge. Each course is moulded, the first plainly chamfered with a lower roll, the second deeply hollowed and finally two ogee courses. Label stops terminate the outer two courses of the arch at spring level, whilst the inner courses end in a simple step. The jambs of the gate were largely replaced with nineteenth-century brickwork below spring level, however the upper few courses of the right hand reveal appear to be original. The brickwork is plainly chamfered here, unlike the moulded arch above. This chamfer must have continued down the jamb terminating, perhaps, in a simple stop before reaching ground level.

Above the arch, two isolated sections of decorative brickwork still survive. It was previously thought that this brickwork had survived in its original position. Close examination suggests however that it was rebuilt here following the construction of the Kings School gymnasium in 1903. It seems likely that these sections of decorative brickwork (perhaps the best elements of the former gate) were carefully dismantled and saved during the construction of the new King's School building. At some point during the rebuilding the two sections were reassembled and attached to the new frontage.

Frieze above gate

Each section or frieze, they are more or less identical, comprises four tracery panels beneath a hood mould. The trefoil tracer has sunken spandrels whilst the four courses of the hood moulding are decorated with a sequence chamfers, cavetto and plain roll mouldings. Although each frieze appears to have been faithfully reassembled, we cannot be certain whether they have been relocated in their former positions. It seems likely, however, that the former arrangement was similar.

A date of 1545, located between the two sections of tracery, also survives. This feature, similarly formed in brick, must have been saved and relocated along with the other decorative fabric. The mid sixteenth century date, which is consistent with the stylistic features of the gate, suggests that it is an authentic piece of the Mint Yard gate. No further brickwork is presently visible. The body of the gateway above, behind and perhaps to the sides of the arch appears to have been removed completely.

All the decorative details discussed have been carved from stock bricks measuring on average 9 x 4.25 x 2 inches. The tool-marks and slight irregularity between matching bricks can easily be discerned. The Mint Yard Gate was clearly blocked as a result of the construction of the new Kings School gymnasium, c. 1903. The present flintwork with occasional lumps of reused ashlar which blocks the gate, matches the fabric of the surrounding building. Access to the Mint Yard and precincts is now provided by the Victorian gateway located at the corner of Palace Street and Northgate.

See this place today Click on the logo to see this place today.   The information on this page is Copyright © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd. 1995 Reproduced with permission.
The text and pictures were taken from Canterbury's Archaeology 1993/1994, The 18th Annual Report of Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Peter Collinson Last change: 7th September 2008