Eastern Nave

The Nave looking west towards the Great West Window. Photo by Jules & Jenny from Lincoln, UK. CC BY 2.0

Western Nave

Fire Watchers Memorial
Great West Window

Eastern Nave

Compass Rose


Altar of the Sword Point
The Deans' Chapel

Western Crypt (North Aisle)

Ch. of Holy Innocents
St Nicholas Ch.
St Mary Magdalene Ch.

Eastern Crypt

Watching Chamber
Jesus Chapel

Western Crypt (South Aisle)

Huguenot Chapel
Our Lady Undercroft
St Gabriel Chapel

Pulpitum Steps

Royal Window
Bell Harry
Great South Window


Parclose Screen
Archbishop's Throne
St Augustine's Chair

North Choir Aisle

Chichele Tomb
Bible Windows
Northeast Transept

Trinity Chapel North

Opus Alexandrinum
Miracle Windows
Henry IV Tomb
Becket Shrine

Trinity Chapel South

Corona Chapel
Black Prince
Miracle Windows

South Choir Aisle

St Anselm's Chapel
Bossanyi Windows
Southeast Transept

Southwest Transept

Stairs to the Crypt
Level access to Martyrdom

Great Cloister

Heraldic shields
South, East, North & West panes
Cloister Garth

Chapter House

Wagon Vault
Victorian stained glass

Hint. View the map ‘landscape’ on small screens.

What's here?

MapA prominent feature at the eastern end of the Nave is the late-Victorian Pulpit. The area immediately in front of the altar, here enclosed on either side by wrought-iron work, is known as the Sanctuary and this is where you  will find the Compass Rose and the Altar of the Holy Cross. The last of several monuments on the wall of the North aisle is the intriguing Elizabethan memorial to Sir James Hales.

Orientation. As you approach from the western end of the Nave, the pulpit is to your left on the north side. The Sanctuary, with the Compass Rose and altar, is ahead of you, just in front of the steps leading up to the Pulpitum screen. Continuing along the north aisle of the Nave, the Hales Memorial is the last monument on the left.

The distinctive wooden pulpit was designed in 1898 by architect George Bodley. The pulpit, in perpendicular Gothic style, has carvings of the Crucifixion and the Annunciation around it, a canopy above, and two figures in cope and mitre on either side of the stairway. The figures represent the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine  (d. 604) and his mentor, Pope St Gregory I  (590-604). Known also as Gregory the Great, he instigated St Augustine’s mission to convert the Saxon kingdom of Kent to Christianity.

As on the Font, the Holy Ghost is represented by the figure of a small golden dove. The colours of the Pulpit serve as a reminder that the medieval Nave was vibrant with coloured painting and decoration.

On the floor of the sanctuary is the emblem of The Compass Rose, which signifies, by showing all points of the compass, that the Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican Christian Faith throughout the World. This is where all the Anglican Bishops of the World gather at the time of each Lambeth Conference (held approximately every 10 years). The emblem bears a Greek inscription, which translates: “The Truth Shall Make You Free” – (John Ch. 8, v. 32). It was designed by Giles Blomfield of Truro and installed at the time of the Lambeth Conference in 1988. The first Lambeth Conference was held in 1867 and the most recent, in Canterbury, in July/August 2008. The next was due to be held in 2020, now postponed to 2022.

The Altar frontal is reversible, the front depicting All Seasons and the reverse Lent, portrayed by a Crown of Thorns. It was designed and worked by the Royal School of Needlework and was dedicated in 2006. The central motif of the All Seasons frontal is an adaptation of the Canterbury Cross in the form of the Compass Rose within a circlet of acanthus leaves, representing the NADFAS (National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts) sponsorship of the work, and surrounded by Greek lettering, repeating the motto: “The Truth Shall Make You Free”.

There are several military monuments along both sides of the Nave but the most intriguing of them all is connected with a forgotten event that has been described by some historians as as the greatest naval disaster in English history. The monument is a memorial to Sir James Hales (d.1589), his wife Alice and son Cheney.

Sir James was a soldier and treasurer to the English Armada (aka the Contra or Counter Armada) of 1589. The top part of the monument features a relief sculpture showing Sir James being buried at sea. The English Armada was Elizabeth I’s attempt to capitalise on the failure of the Spanish Armada a year earlier. Despite the losses it had suffered around the coast of the British Isles in 1588, Spain remained the dominant naval force, and the Spanish Empire (the Iberian Union of Portugal and Spain 1580-1640), under Philip II of Spain controlled the sea routes and lucrative trade between Europe and Spanish/Portuguese territories in the Caribbean and the Americas.

The expedition, led by Sir Francis Drake and General Sir John Norreys, spectacularly failed to accomplish any of its objectives. The joint English/Dutch fleet of 150 warships and armed merchantmen that sailed from Plymouth on 15th April 1589, limped home only three months later, having lost at least a quarter of its ships.  Around half of the 23,000 men who set sail were killed, injured or died of disease.  Sir James himself died during the return journey and was buried at sea in full armour, as depicted on the monument.

The Hales monument was commissioned by Sir James’ friend Richard Lee. In his will, Sir James bequeathed to his “good friend” Richard Lee, all his books, pictures and maps, and excused him all money he owed him. Though not a provision of the will, Richard Lee subsequently married Sir James’ widow, Lady Alice Hales, and moved to the Hales manor house, known as “The Dungeon” (Dane John) on the edge of Canterbury.  Shortly after Lady Alice’s death in 1592, Lee became MP for Canterbury in 1593 and, in 1600, he was knighted and became ambassador to Russia.

Lady Alice (d.1592) is shown in the central panel, kneeling at a prie-dieu (prayer desk) and, in the bottom panel, their son Cheney Hales (d.1596) also at prayer.

Footnote. Notice that the two figures at prayer face west when, by convention, they normally face east. It is likely that the memorial was originally installed on a south wall, where it would have faced conventionally east. St Michael’s (The Buffs’) Chapel has been suggested, though it would be a tight fit!

Where next?

Next Stop Continue along the north aisle of the Nave behind the pulpit and take the steps up and down (six of each) into the X Martyrdom.

For step free access to the Martyrdom, follow the south aisle of the Nave into the Southwest Transept, and use the pilgrims’ tunnel, on the left.