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Canterbury - Christchurch Cathedral Parish

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Canterbury - Christchurch Cathedral

Canterbury, Christchurch Cathedral is, ecclesiastically, in the archdeaconry of Canterbury and in the deanery of Canterbury.  The church is named Christ Church with registers commencing 1564.

Canterbury, Christchurch Cathedral is a precinct in Blean district, Kent;  within Canterbury city.  It is also within the Borough of Canterbury.  Population in 1861 224.  Houses, 34.

A church was built, by St. Augustine, on the site of the cathedral;  greatly injured by the Danes in 938;  restored by Archbishop Ido, in 940-60;  damaged again by the Danes in 1011, and almost destroyed by fire in 1067;  and contained the bodies of St. Blaize, St. Wilfred, St. Dunstan, St. Alphege, and St. Andoen, the heads of St. Swithin and St. Furseus, and the arm of St. Bartholomew.

The present edifice was commenced in 1070-86 by Archbishop Lanfranc;  extended, altered, and restored by successive prelates till 1495;  and has undergone great, costly, recent renovations.  It exhibits, in its various parts, all the styles of architecture, from early Norman to perpendicular;  makes grand displays of them, both in their respective features, and in their junctions with one another;  and is especially rich and large in transition-Norman and perpendicular English.  It has a crypt, with vaulted roof 14 feet high, supported on massive pillars;  and it stands aloft on a height of base and with a force of character unsurpassed in any other cathedral, dominating over the city around it like an abrupt, isolated, spiry hill over some miles of plain.

It consists of a south porch;  a nave of nine bays, with aisles;  a central transept, with two chapels;  a choir of six bays, with aisles;  a choir transept, with two apsidal chapels in each wing;  a presbytery of two bays, with aisles, and with northern and southern apsidal chapels;  an eastern ambulatory, with aisles;  a main apsidal chapel of four bays, with magnificent procession path and aisles;  and a circular structure to the east of this, called A'Becket's Crown;  and it has a central tower and two western towers.  The nave is 178 feet long, 71 feet wide, and 80 feet high;  the choir, 180 feet long, 40 feet wide and 71 feet high;  the central transept, 124 feet long;  the choir transept, 154 feet long;  the central tower, 35 feet square and 235 feet high;  and the western towers, 130 feet high.  The nave has no triforium;  the main transept has no aisles;  the choir is approached by noble flights of stairs, and offers the earliest instance of the pointed arch in England;  the screen is of the 15th century, with niched imagery of founders and saints, and was recently restored;  the throne was carved by Flemish workmen, and cost £1,200;  the pulpit is of stone, by Butterfield of London, and was put up in 1846;  the main apsidal chapel is approchaed by broad flights of stairs, contained the gorgeous shrine of St. Thomas à Becket, and has a curious mosaic pavement, with the signs of the zodiac;  the central tower is of two stages, with octagonal turrets at the angles, and has been called "the glory of all towers";  and the western towers are each of six stages and much beauty, one of them rebuilt in 1840, at a cost of £25,000.  Effigies, altar-tombs, and other monuments, in great variety, are dispersed through the various parts of the pile to the memory of the archbishops and other notable persons, including Henry IV, Queen Joan of Navarre, Edward the Black Prince, a Lady Mohun, a Countess of Athole, Admiral Sir G. Rooke, Sir John Boys, Hadrian Saravia, Orlando Gibbons, W. Shuckford, Odo Coligny, a Marquis of Dorset, and a Duke of Clarence.

The edifice served, throughout the Romish times, both as a cathedral and as a conventual church.  A Benedictine priory stood connected with it;  and was known as the convent of Christ's Church.  A massive wall surrounded the precincts, and served at once for defence and for seclusion.  The passage from the priory led to the choir transept through a circular chamber, now used as a baptistery.  The library is to the north of this;  and occupies the site of the prior's chapel.  The chapter house stands parallel with the north side of the north-west transept;  and is 87 feet long, 35 feet wide and 52 feet high.  The cloisters are on the north side of the nave;  measure 144 feet by 144;   and have eight bays on every side.

The space southward of the choir formed the cemetery or God's acre, sown with the seed of the resurrection.  'The Oaks' was the convent garden;  the Norman doorway is in the precinct gate eastward of the choir.  The ancient stone house on the left side turning round the Becket's Crown formed the Honours, the guesthall (a nave and aisles 150 feet by 40 feet), for the reception of visitors.  Considerable remains of the infirmary are observable;  the chapel and common hall, of flint, with three tall pointed windows, built in 1342.  Near it was St. Thomas' well.  At this point occurs 'the Dark entry', a Norman cloister built by Prior Wibert about 1167, with a curious bell-shaped tower, which served as the monks' conduit;  above it is now the baptistery.  On one side is the gate of the great cloisters.  The arch and ruins towards the Green Court are those of La Gloriette, the prior's rooms built by Prior Hathbrand, 1379.  Passing the chapter, once the prior's chapel library, the Prior's or Court Gate, leads into the Green Court.  On the east side is the deanery, built by Dean Godwin, 1570, after a fire on the site of the Prior's lodgings.  In it Hooper welcomed Queen Mary.  At the north-east corner a large gateway oepns into the follings or foreigns, the space beyond the conventual jurisdiction.  On the north side, were the ancient dean's great hall, water house, granary, refectory, frater house, brew house, bake house and domestic buildings, among which great part of the dormitory remains, with a gateway and steps.

At the north-west angle is the Norman precinct gate of the priory, which stood on the south side of the court;  the back entrance to it, or Larder Gate, still remains.  At the south-west angle is the arched door which led to the palace.  The strangers' hall was on the west side.  In the north-west angle is likewise the Norman staircase, with an open arcade which led into the north hall, 150 feet by 40 feet, allotted to the stewards of the prior court;  the arches on which it was supported alone remain;  above them the King's school has been built by Mr. Austen, 1855.  They form a passage into the Mint yard.  It is the only staircase of the period known to be in existence.  In the King's school were educated Harvey, the physician, Lord Thurlow, and Lord Tenterden.

Within the ancient almonry, on the north-west of the Green Court, stood the chantry of St. Thomas à Becket, which Henry VIII converted into a mint, and Cardinal Pole made the King's school.  In the high wall, probably a portion of Lanfranc's building, leading to the north-west entrance of the cathedral are the remains of the coverd way to the cloisters, by which the primates entered, but their ordinary approach was through a large gateway with a square tower of flint and ashlar.1

The Priory of Christ Church

After St. Augustine had taken possession of the palace given him by King Ethelbert here, and had been consecrated a bishop at Arles, in France, it is recorded, that he founded a church and monastery close to it, in which he and his companions, who were monks, lived in common, according to certain rules of their monastic order; which, as it is by many affirmed, was the Benedictine, that is, followers of the order of the black monks of St. Benet, in which sort of community they continued to live till the time of archbishop Lanfranc, who came to the see soon after the Norman conquest, and according to the usage of his own country, being himself a Norman, altered this manner of living, by separating his habitation and revenues from those of the convent. [See Reyneri Apostolat. Benedict. Trac. Batt. Somn. p. 82.]2

At first the archbishops presided over their monks themselves, as chief governors; but the business of the see of Canterbury increasing so much, as to take up the whole of their attention, they were obliged to provide a substitute to preside over the convent, under the name of dean; but the first of these, that we have found mentioned, is upwards of 200 years after the foundation of it. [See Angl. Sacr. tom. i. p. 135.]2

St. Mary of Queningate, was a church so called from its situation near that ancient gate, in a lane called Queningate-lane, within the city wall. I find it in old records called both a church and a chapel.2

That such there was, is most certain, as may be traced in the records of Christ-church, now of more than 580 years old, which priory had the patronage of this church given to it, by Hugh Magminot (together with eleven mansions in Canterbury) [See Somner's manuscript papers in the library of Christ-church.] and which was, among others, confirmed to it by a bull of Pope Alexander III and by many bulls of the like sort afterwards. By the above records, it appears likewise, that the rector of this church in 1381, made an exchange of it, and St. Michael church in Burgate, to which it was an annexed chapel for Portpool chantry, in St. Paul's; the profits of this church and chapel amounting to no more than four pounds yearly; further than which, I find no further mention of it, nor any trace of the site of it. St. Michael in Burgate was valued in the ancient taxation with the chapel of Queningate, at £4 but on account of the slenderness of the income, was not charged to the tenth. [Thorn, col. 2169.]2

1 John Marius Wilson, comp.  The Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales. (London, England: A. Fullerton & Co., 1870).

2 Edward Hasted, The priory of Christchurch, in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11 (Canterbury, 1800), pp. 424-425 424-425.

Canterbury - Christchurch Cathedral Bibliography

-- various. 'Archaeologia Cantiana'. Publisher: Kent, England: Kent Archaeological Society, various dates.  [Note:  The following volumes can be found on  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (1876), 11, 12, 13 (1880), 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 34, 35, vol. 1907 supplement.]

  • General references to Canterbury - Christchurch Cathedral: vol. , pp.
  • Currently in revision

Great Britain, Public Record Office. 'Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office--Edward II, Vol. 1. 1307-1313'Each volume has own index. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Great Britain, Public Record Office. 'Inquisitions and assessments relating to feudal aids : with other analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, A. D. 1284-1431', Vol. 3. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Great Britain, Exchequer. 'The book of fees commonly called testa de nevill, pt. 3'. The Book of fees contains information about the holdings of feudal tenants. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Hall, Hubert, 1857-1944. 'The Red book of the Exchequer - Liber rubeus de Scaccario, Vol. 3'. The Red book of the Exchequer was a register intended to preserve important documents comprising charters, statutes of the realm, public acts (Placita), private deeds and ordinances, correspondence. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Glencross, Reginald Morshead. 'Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Vol. 1. 1559-1571'. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Hasted, Edward. 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent; Containing the ancient and present state of it, civil and ecclesiastical; collected from public records, and other authorities: illustrated with maps, views, antiquities, etc. The second edition, improved, corrected, and continued to the present time'. 12 volumes. Publisher: Canterbury: Printed by W. Bristow, 1797-1801. URL: British History Online

Hussey, Arthur. 'Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, mentioned in Domesday book, and those of more recent date'. Publisher: London J.R. Smith,(1852).

Letters, Dr. Samantha. 'Kent', Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 (2005).  URL: British History Online.

Page, William, 1861-1934, ed.. 'The Victoria history of the county of Kent'. Publisher: London: Constable (1908).  URL: British History Online

Sharp, J. E. E. S., ed.. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward I, File 39', Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 2: Edward I. Published:(1906), pp. 315-323.  URL: British History Online.

Sharp, J. E. E. S., ed.. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry III, File 45', Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 1: Henry III. Published:(1904), pp. 296-302.  URL: British History Online.

Location of Records

The following list of records is not intended to be exhaustive.  There are many records that are awaiting discovery in archive offices throughout Kent and England.  This list is intended only to set out those records that are available via at least two relatively easy-to-access avenues.  If you have used or discover a record that would be of benefit to other researchers, that is not on this list, please send me an email with the details of the archive - name, address and archival call number.

Census | Church of England | Non-Conformist | Parish chest | Workhouse and Poor Law | Land | Assizes and Sessions | School



Date The National Archives, Ruskin Avenue,
Kew, Richmond,
LDS Family History Centre
(Find a centre near you)
and indexed online at:
6 June 1841 Currently under revision  
30 Mar 1851 Currently under revision  
30 Mar 1851 census name index & images Currently under revision  
7 Apr 1861 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1871 Currently under revision  
3 Apr 1881 Currently under revision  
5 Apr 1891 Currently under revision  
31 Mar 1901 RG 13/785 - also online at  
2 Apr 1911 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1911 RG 78/139 - Census Enumerator's Summary Books online only and other subscription sites none

Church Records, Church of England

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Parish Register   Currently under revision  
Bishop's transcripts   Currently under revision  
CMB transcripts   Currently under revision  
Parish Registers, transcribed by Thomas Colyer-Fergusson   Currently under revision  

Church Records, Non-Conformist

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
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Particular Baptist Chapel, Nonconformist Return   Currently under revision  
Methodist Church Registers   Currently under revision  

Parish chest records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
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Parish Council Minutes   Currently under revision  
Removal orders out of Canterbury - Christchurch Cathedral   Currently under revision  
Settlement Examinations, Minute book   Currently under revision  
Overseers' Accounts   Currently under revision  
Return of Churchwardens, constables and defaulters     
Tithe Apportionment Files      
Poor Rate books   Currently under revision  

Workhouse and Poor Law Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
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Admission & Discharge books   This section currently under revision  
Guardians' Minutes      
Births   Currently under revision  
Deaths   Currently under revision  
Religious creed registers   Currently under revision  
Apprentice Register      
Registers of lunatics      
Letters books      
Vaccination registers 1899-1930 Currently under revision  

Land Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
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Land tax assessments 1780-1831 Currently under revision  
Land tax assessments 1875-1876 Currently under revision  
Land tax assessments 1889-1890 Currently under revision  
Rates and Duties - Houses, Windows, Lights   Currently under revision  
Manorial Court rolls   Currently under revision  
War Damage Files 1939-1962 Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, Kent, no.: Finding Aid at CKS-DRb/RW 123 None

Assizes and Sessions Records
(poor laws, jail terms, oaths, and other municipal and public records)

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
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Hearth tax   Currently under revision  
Victuallers Recognizances   Currently under revision  
Churchwarden's Presentments   Currently under revision  
Parish rate books   Currently under revision  

School Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
    Currently under revision  


Coming Soon

Church Registers


Parish Chest

  • Settlement Certificates
  • Removal Orders
  • Bastardy Examinations
  • Parish-assisted Immigrants
  • Churchwarden's Accounts
  • Overseer's Accounts
  • Surveyor's Accounts
  • Workhouse Records
  • Pew Rents
  • Donors' Rolls
  • Vestry Minutes
  • Bishops' Visitations
  • Parish Magazines
  • Parish Histories


Total Population

1801   -   286
1811   -   248
1821   -   239
1831   -   216
1841   -   248
1851   -   243
1861   -   224
1871   -   202
1881   -   223
1891   -   230
1901   -   203
1911   -   n/a
1921   -   n/a

Canterbury - Christchurch Cathedral Distance to

London mi.
Canterbury mi.
Ashford mi.
Bromley mi.
Chatham mi.
Cranbrook mi.
Dartford mi.
Deptford mi.
Dover mi.
Faversham mi.
Folkestone mi.
Gravesend mi.
Greenwich mi.
Hythe mi.
Maidstone mi.
Margate mi.
Milton Regis mi.
Queenborough mi.
Ramsgate mi.
Rochester mi.
Sandwich mi.
Sheerness mi.
Tenterden mi.
Tunbridge mi.
Woolwich mi.


Municipal & Public Records

  • Mayors
  • Town Clerks
  • Recorders
  • Chamberlains
  • M.P.s
  • Jurats, Aldermen and Common Councilmen
  • Electoral Register
  • Freeholders
  • Freemen Index
  • Freeman's Roll
  • Masters Index
  • Pubs, Taverns, Inns, Alehouses
  • Victuallers

Wills & Estate Records

  • AD index 1448-1857
  • CC index 1448-1857
  • PCC 1338-1858
  • PPR 1858-1925
  • Depositions

Court Records

  • Gaol Returns
  • Quarter Sessions
  • Transportations
  • Summons for Pavement Repairs
  • Tithe Apportionment c1830s
  • Protestation Rolls c1641-1643
  • Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy 1662
  • Oaths of Allegiance c1720s

Military Records

Land Records
& Maps

  • Parish Map
  • Victoria County History
  • Deeds, Mortgages, etc.
  • Rated Property Returns
  • Returns of owners of land, 1873
  • Manor Court Baron
  • Manor Tenancy Rolls
  • Manors, Castles & Holdings of Significance

Tax Lists

  • Poll Tax
  • Hearth Tax
  • Window Tax
  • Hair Powder Tax
  • Land Tax Assessments 1780-1831
  • Land Tax Assessments 1799-1805

Other Records

Village Resources