Southwest Transept

Southwest Transept and St Michael’s Chapel © 2021 The Guide’s Guide 

Western Nave

Fire Watchers Memorial
FontGreat West Window

Eastern Nave

Pulpit Altar
Compass Rose

Martyrdom

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
"Transport"
Jesus Chapel

Western Crypt (South Aisle)

Huguenot Chapel
Our Lady Undercroft
St Gabriel Chapel

Pulpitum Steps

Royal Window Bell HarryGreat South Window

Choir

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

St Michael's Chapel
Whall Window
Crypt access & Exit

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.

MapThe Southwest Transept is the Cathedral’s busiest intersection and it can get quite congested here.  The large window above the entrance porch is the Great South Window – though it is better viewed from the elevated vantage point of the X Pulpitum steps. To the right of this historic window, in the west wall of the transept, there is another important window that visitors often fail to notice: the striking Arts & Crafts window of Christopher Whall.

On the opposite side of the transept, is  St Michael’s Chapel, also known as the Buffs’ Chapel. The chapel contains the triple tomb of Lady Margaret Holland and her two husbands, and the curious tomb of Archbishop Stephen Langton.  The chapel also houses a number of Elizabethan and Jacobean era monuments, and regimental flags and memorials connected with the Royal East Kent Regiment – ‘the Buffs’.

The Norman Cathedral, constructed between 1077-1086, consisted of a nave and single transept (where we are now standing) at its eastern end, which led to a small choir with a short crypt underneath. In the following 100 years, the Cathedral was twice extended from this point eastwards, between 1096-1124 and, following the fire of 1174, between 1175-1184. The floor area of the Cathedral more than doubled during this period. The rebuilt Choir, St Thomas’s (Trinity) Chapel and Corona were magnificent examples of a new, transitional Gothic style of architecture known as Early English. The opulence and greater height of the eastern extensions literally put the rest of the building in the shade.

Meanwhile, the evolution of architectural styles and construction techniques continued and, by 1377, the Norman Nave had become so dilapidated that it had to be demolished completely. It was not fully rebuilt until 1405. Once this work was finished, the Southwest Transept was remodelled and increased in height between 1420-1428 in the same Perpendicular Gothic style as the new Nave, with a huge south window and heraldic vault. 

The large size and west-facing aspect of the Great South Window means that maintenance is needed from time to time. In the 1790s, when significant structural repairs were needed, the window was rebuilt in Portland Stone, and the opportunity was also taken to move the 12th/13th century Ancestors of Christ stained glass here from elsewhere in the Cathedral. Most recently, an inspection in June 2009 revealed that another major overhaul was needed. The complex restoration project, carried out between 2013-2016, involved sourcing 40 tons of compatible limestone from Lavoux in central France and the painstaking restoration and re-assembly of the medieval stained glass.

What's here?

Hiding in plain sight in the western wall of the transept, often unnoticed by visitors, is the ‘Arts & Crafts’ window of Christopher Whall (1849-1924).

Christopher Whall was strongly influenced by the pre-Raphaelite artists, such as John Everett Millais and William Morris and was himself a leading light in the Arts & Crafts movement of the later Victorian era and early 20th century. He taught stained glass-making at the famous Central School of Art & Crafts from its inception in 1896.

What’s in the Whall Window

This chapel has a long association with the Royal East Kent Regiment (the ‘Buffs’) and is often referred to as the Buffs’ Chapel or the Warriors’ Chapel. The regimental colours hang from poles on each side of the chapel.

The tomb of Lady Margaret Holland, Duchess of Clarence (c.1380/1439)

The tomb of Archbishop Stephen Langton (1207-1228)

The east window of St Michael’s Chapel, The Buffs’ Window, installed in 1959, replaced a 19th century Crimean War Memorial window, destroyed in an air raid during World War II. The top of the central panel features the “Sun of Splendour” emblem from the Regiment’s early colours, “1572” – the date the Regiment was raised – and the arms of Queen Elizabeth I. Below that, the Royal Arms of Denmark, representing the Regiment’s Danish link since 1869.  Also, the Regimental Dragon, the Royal badge awarded by Queen Anne in 1707, reflecting its Tudor origin.

The remaining coats of arms in the window are those of Colonels of The Buffs from 1665 to 1953, together with royal personages, associated with the Regiment, and the arms of the Cities of London and Canterbury.

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Where next?

Next Stop We have now completed our tour of the main cathedral building. If time allows, it is certainly worth visiting the X Great Cloister and X Chapter House on the north side of the cathedral. To visit these locations, go through the Pilgrims’ Tunnel into the Martyrdom, and exit via the heavy wooden door (with Latin inscription in red above) into the Cloister. 

Accessible Itinerary. To exit the cathedral, or to visit the Cloister and Chapter House, return to the Nave, and exit through the Northwest door. 

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