Southwest Transept

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

Western Nave

<q>Fire Watchers Memorial</q><br><q>Font</q><q>Great West Window</q>

Eastern Nave

<q>Pulpit</q> <q>Altar</q><br><q>Compass Rose</q>

Western Crypt (South Aisle)

<q>Huguenot Chapel</q><br><q>Our Lady Undercroft</q><br><q>St Gabriel Chapel</q>

Eastern Crypt

<q>Watching Chamber</q><br><q>"Transport"</q><br><q>Jesus Chapel</q>

Western Crypt (North Aisle)

<q>Ch. of Holy Innocents</q><br><q>St Nicholas Ch.</q><br><q>St Mary Magdalene Ch.</q>

Martyrdom

<q>Altar of the Sword Point</q><br><q>The Deans' Chapel</q>

Pulpitum Steps

<q>Royal Window </q><q>Bell Harry</q><q>Great South Window</q>

Choir

<q>Parclose Screen</q><br><q>Archbishop's Throne</q><br><q>St Augustine's Chair</q>

North Choir Aisle

<q>Chichele Tomb</q><br><q>Bible Windows</q><br><q>Northeast Transept</q>

Trinity Chapel North

<q>Opus Alexandrinum</q><br><q>Miracle Windows</q><br><q>Henry IV Tomb</q><br><q>Becket Shrine</q>

Trinity Chapel South

<q>Corona Chapel</q><br><q>Black Prince</q><br><q>Miracle Windows</q>

South Choir Aisle

<q>St Anselm's Chapel</q><br><q>Bossanyi Windows</q><br><q>Southeast Transept</q>

Southwest Transept

<q>St Michael's Chapel</q><br><q>Whall Window</q><br><q> Crypt access & Exit</q>

Great Cloister

<q>Heraldic shields</q><br><q>South, East, North & West panes</q><br><q>Cloister Garth</q>

Chapter House

<q>Wagon Vault</q><br><q>Victorian stained glass</q>

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

MapWe are now reaching the end of our tour of Canterbury Cathedral. This is a busy intersection, though if space and time allows there is plenty to see here. We have already looked at the Great South Window from the vantage point of the steps above, but there is another window here,  on the west side of the transept, that visitors often fail to notice –  the striking Arts & Crafts window of Christopher Whall. Opposite this window, on the east side of the transept, is  St Michael’s Chapel. The chapel contains the triple tomb of Lady Margaret Holland and her two husbands, the tomb of Archbishop Stephen Langton, several Elizabethan and Jacobean era monuments, as well as 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 (this one) 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.

Collapse all

Where next?

 Congratulations! You have now completed the Guides Tour of Canterbury Cathedral. If you have any comments, corrections or suggestions for improvement please let us know via our  Feedback page.

 Return via the Nave, and exit through the Northwest door.