Survey of Canterbury Cathedral, by Josie Sinden

Exploring the roof spaces
Canterbury Cathedral has seen hundreds of millions of visitors through its doors throughout the centuries with its renovated Gothic architecture being well known, not just within Canterbury but world wide. Fortunately for us, as part of the Architecture Conservation MSc Course at Kent University we got to have a private tour of the spaces which aren’t so commonly seen by those visiting. This involved exploring the roof spaces above the vaulted ceiling and looking at the masonry repair work which is currently being carried out on the very large south window. The following are two different photos which explore different elements of the cathedral, both of which have had conservation strategies applied to them or undergone some repair and maintenance.

Canterbury Cathedral Roofs

Canterbury Cathedral Roofs

Canterbury Cathedral South Transept Window. View of the new window built in 2015.

Canterbury Cathedral South Transept Window. View of the new window built in 2015.

The other side of the Vaults
Behind the scenes of the vaulted aisles are a maze of structural timbers and beams which don’t only support the roof structure, but also the walkways which can be found throughout the roof space. This supported walkway system has been installed along with intermittent fire doors and dividing walls. This addition was vital for fire safety of the cathedral as it reduces the risk of a fire spreading by containing it to different areas, therefore reducing damage as much as possible. The curved shape of the vault can still be seen on this side, although slightly less due to the layers of plaster which have been added for support and repair over the years.
It was a really fantastic experience for us as a class to see the other side of the building that feels quite familiar. This enabled us to gain a better sense of the different intervention methods that have been shaped the cathedral in the last five centuries.