Canterbury Archeological Trust

Blackfriars' Gate
Paul Bennett

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Drawing of Gate Until its demolition in 1787. Blackfriars' Gate was one of the most prominent structures on the north-east side of St Peter's Street. A later eighteenth century engraving indicates that it was a substantial masonry building faced with knapped flint, with a simple horizontal band carved with four-petalled flower ornament in the middle. and two niches. one above the other each side of the central arch.

The Blackfriars' Monastery. founded in 1236 (see C.F Palmer `The Friar-preachers of Black Friars of Canterbury', Arch. Cant 13 (1880), 81-96 and A.R. Martin `The Dominican Priory at Canterbury'. Arch. J. 86 (1930), 152-77) was contained within a precinct bounded on the west by St Peter's Lane. The principal gate to the establishment was sited at the intersection of The Friars with St Peter's Street. The foundations of this gate, probably newly built in 1356 (Palmer. op.cit.87) were excavated during January 1987 by the Trust in advance of the paving scheme for St Peter's. The excavation, funded by the City Council, was largely staffed by members of our M.S.C. team under the supervision of Alan Ward.

The gate piers of mortared chalk blockwork were located approximately 20 cm. below the present street surface. Despite extensive damage to the gate foundations by modern service trenches, a carriageway width of c. 2.6 m. (8 ft. 6 in.) was indicated. The gate piers 1.4 m: (c. 4 ft. 6 in.) thick were well-founded, extending below the excavated horizon (c. 2.0 m. below the present street). Rammed gravel and mortar deposits spanned the piers and merged with contemporary street metallings either side of the gate. The surface of a 40 cm. thick construction deposit of abraded mortar and chalk rubble was encountered 0.70 m. below the present street level. This in turn overlay a sequence of beaten earth and clay floors, associated with a structure which immediately pre-dated gate construction.

The foundations of the gate have now been marked out in the new paving. This will not only draw the visitor's attention to the site of one of Canterbury's `lost' monuments, but will protect the surviving gate foundations from damage by future service trenching.

Thanks are extended to the City Council for funding the excavation and to David Latham and Dennis Button of the City Engineer's staff, for their help and advice.

See this place today Click on the logo to see this place today.   The information on this page is Copyright © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd 1987. Reproduced with permission.
The text and pictures were taken from Canterbury's Archaeology 1986/1987, The 11th Annual Report of Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Peter Collinson Last change: 18th November 2018