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St Augustine's Abbey

Canterbury, Kent

Location Guide

"A World Heritage Site"

English Heritage say that "this great abbey, marking the rebirth of Christianity in southern England, was founded shortly after AD 597 by St Augustine. Originally created as a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent"

It is part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site, along with Canterbury Cathedral   and St Martin's Church.

From records we know it existed by the time St Augustine died, as he was first buried outside in the grounds of the abbey church of St Peter and St Paul, and later in a section within the abbey. However this may have been because it was still being constructed at the time of his death. More on the the arrival of St Augustine, and events at that time are covered in the location guide on the nearby St Martin's Church.

Wikipedia says that when St Augustine's arrived there was already standing on the site, three Saxon churches, dedicated respectively to Saints Pancras, Peter and Paul, and finally Mary. One of the main purposes of the abbey right from the outset was as a burial place for the Kings of Kent and the Archbishops of Canterbury.

In 978 a new larger building was dedicated by Archbishop Dunstan, to the Saints Peter, Paul, and Augustine.

St Augustine's was a Benedictine abbey, a lot of building and rebuilding occurred, some as a result of a fire in 1168, and from 1250 a flurry of activity building cloisters, lavatorium, frater, kitchen, abbots lodgings and a great hall. The grounds were extended and new outer walls put up in the 14th century, and building included a crenellated great gate, cellars, range, brewhouse, bakehouse and in 1320 a new vineyard was added. An earthquake in 1382 brought about repairs and changes. The current surviving gatehouse was built in 1390. The lady chapel was also added to the end of the church. By 1500 the abbey was large prosperous and had a library with over 2,000 volumes.

At its largest, its church was nearly as large as the cathedral nearby.

In the time of Henry VIII, it escaped the first closures as it had an income at the time of 1,733, the first to close being those with an income under 100 a year. It was dissolved on the 30th July 1538, and parts removed over the next 15 years, but some parts remained intact and converted to a new palace, ready for the arrival of Ann of Cleeves from Germany.

It was used as a palace by various nobles until a great storm in 1703 damaged it.

Today a number of substantial buildings survive including the gatehouse, large window from the abbey church and other buildings.

Part of the abbey today   Photo by Immanuel Giel 


Location: St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, Kent

Grid Reference: TR153578 Ceremonial County: Kent

Map Link: StreetMap    Google

Aerial photo:  Google

Getting there: A257 just east from Canterbury towards Longport. 1/4 mile east of cathedral.
NO PARKING ON SITE - pay and display nearby.

Access:
Website: English Heritage

Other Useful Websites: Wikipedia    Wikipedia commons - images

Geograph - Images

Email:
Address: Monastery Street, Canterbury, Kent
Postcode: CT1 1PF Telephone: 01227 378100
Local Tourist Information: Canterbury 01227 766567

Opening Times: 2 Jan-31 Mar Sat & Sun 10am-4pm; 1 Apr-30 Jun Wed-Sun 10am-5pm;

1 Jul-31 Aug Every day 10am-6pm; 1 Sep-31 Oct Sat & Sun 10am-5pm;

24-26 Dec and 1 Jan CLOSED

Charges: English Heritage members Free

            Adults 4.80, Concessions 4.30, Children 2.90, Family 12.50

Nearby Locations: Canterbury Cathedral      St Martin's Church
Other Location Pages:

Other Relevant Pages: World Heritage Sites in the UK       Abbeys in Kent 

Articles in the Abbeys      World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites - Further Information

Notes: Museum. Free audio tour.

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

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By: Keith Park  Section: Abbeys Key:
Page Ref: StAugustinesAbbey Topic: Abbeys Last Updated: 02/2011

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