Including the Corona
<q>Fire Watchers Memorial</q><br><q>Font</q><q>Great West Window</q>
<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>
<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>
<q>Altar of the Sword Point</q><br><q>The Deans' Chapel</q>
<q>Royal Window </q><q>Bell Harry</q><q>Great South Window</q>
<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>
<q>St Michael's Chapel</q><br><q>Whall Window</q><br><q> Crypt access & Exit</q>
<q>Heraldic shields</q><br><q>South, East, North & West panes</q><br><q>Cloister Garth</q>
<q>Wagon Vault</q><br><q>Victorian stained glass</q>
Hint. View the map ‘landscape’ on small screens.
MapRounding the ambulatory from the north aisle to the south aisle of the Trinity Chapel, we reach the Corona Chapel – the easternmost point of the Cathedral. Continuing into the south aisle, we find the remaining Miracle Windows and several noteworthy tombs, including that of the Black Prince.
The Corona, completed by William the Englishman in 1184, is unique in English Cathedral architecture and was built specifically to house the ‘corona’ (the crown, or top part of the skull) of St Thomas Becket.
The clerk Edward Grim’s graphic, first-hand account of Becket’s murder in December 1170 describes how Richard le Breton’s final sword blow severed the crown of Becket’s scalp and snapped the point of le Breton’s sword. The crown was recovered from the crime scene by the monks and preserved in a silver reliquary. Pilgrims visiting the Corona chapel were able to view and, if of sufficient status, also kiss the reliquary.
In recent times, the Chapel has been re-dedicated to the Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time. A Book of Remembrance, naming 21 priests, men and women murdered for their Christian faith since 1916, is maintained here.
Stained glass in the Corona (c.1200-1220)
The Jesse Windows
The Redemption Window
Like the two Bible windows in the North [quire] Aisle, the Redemption Window has an educational purpose and, like those windows, draws upon Old Testament stories that are said to foreshadow or ‘prefigure’ events depicted in the New Testament. The theme of the window is the Redemption of man, through the death and resurrection of Christ. The window is organised into 5 groups of 5 scenes, laid out around alternating square and diamond central panels. The central New Testament scene in each group is surrounded by four Old Testament scenes that prefigure it.
The window is described below from top to bottom, to reflect the actual layout of the window, but note that the chronology of events depicted (as with many ancient stained glass windows) is the other way around, i.e. from bottom to top:
Christ sitting in Majesty, with his right hand raised in blessing
|Consecration of Aaron, who kneels before Moses, and his sons to the priesthood. The Law is given to Moses||Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, shown as tongues of fire, streams down to the heads of the eleven remaining Apostles (Judas has been lost)||Moses judges the people of Israel in the presence of Jethro, who advises him to delegate power to his advisers|
|Moses receives the tablets of the Law from God in Sinai|
The ascension of Elijah into Heaven in a chariot of fire
|The sundial of Ahaz, with the red globe of the sun, above Isaiah, who stands by the sick bed of Hezekiah|
|*The Ascension of Christ. The Apostles and the Virgin Mary stand looking on as Christ’s feet disappear into the clouds|
|The High Priest enters the Holy of Holies||Enoch is seen praying and ascending to Heaven|
Jonah is coming out of the whale and stepping on to dry land
|*After 40 days, Noah is receiving a dove, released earlier, bringing an olive branch, proving that there must be dry land nearby||*The Resurrection. Christ stepping from the tomb, with an angel on either side||*Michal, David’s wife, helps him escape out of a window, when Saul comes to kill him|
|Moses walks towards a burning bush with three sheep. God orders him to remove his shoes. His feet will not burn. This is Holy ground|
|4th group |
Samson in bed with Delilah, who tries to entice him to tell the secret of his strength. The Philistines wait outside, hoping to learn the secret
|Jonah has refused to do God’s will and has run away to sea, where sailors, frightened by a storm, for which they blame him, throw him overboard, where he is swallowed by a whale|
|The Entombment. Two men lower Christ’s body into the tomb, while a third pours on ointment. Mary, mother of Christ, and Mary Magdalene look on|
|Joseph has been cast into a pit, dug by his jealous brothers, on account of the coat of many colours, given to him by their father, Jacob. God saves Joseph||Daniel, in Babylon, is thrown to the lions for worshipping God. The lions refuse to touch him. God has intervened|
|Bottom group The offering of Isaac. God tests the loyalty of Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God intervenes to save Isaac. An angel holds the point of Abraham’s sword|
|Moses strikes the rock and water pours out. The side of Christ was wounded and blood poured out||*The Crucifixion. Christ on the cross with Mary Magdalene and Mary, his mother, left, and St Luke and St John, right||The Passover. A man paints a “T” or “tau” (prophetic of the cross) above the door. Two men cut the throat of a lamb and its blood gushes into a basin|
|The grapes of Eschcol. Just as Christ and Simon of Cyrene bore their crosses, spies, sent by Moses, return from the Promised Land, carrying grapes (the Blood of Christ). One (the Jew) refuses to look back. The other (the Gentile) longs to see it. Wine for the Eucharist. The Jews reject Christ. The Gentiles adore him|
The fourth and fifth windows
Monuments in the Corona
On the right is the rather more elaborate memorial to Archbishop Frederick Temple (1897-1902) in bronze and Cornish granite who is shown kneeling in his Archbishop’s cope (as worn at the coronation of Edward VII in 1902). Temple is buried in the Cloister garden, where there is a memorial slab carved by Eric Gill.
The Burial of Christ (c.1982) is a copy in bronze of an original sculpture made by Kenyan sculptor Rosemary Namuli in 1947. It shows Christ’s body wrapped in cloth, as it would be at an East African funeral. The four bearers (possibly representing the Apostles) envelope and protect the body with their large hands as they carry it on their shoulders.
Besides the tomb of the Black Prince (see below) there are three other noteworthy tombs in this corner of the Trinity Chapel:
The Tomb of Cardinal of Châtillon, Odet de Coligy (1571)
After 450 years, he is still here.
Footnote. A year after Odet’s death, his brother Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was murdered during the notorious St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in August 1572, an uprising that led to the slaughter of hundreds of Huguenots who were in Paris for the wedding of the French King’s sister to a prominent Huguenot. The sectarian bloodshed spread to many parts France and thousands of Huguenots fled to England and, in 1575, Elizabeth I sanctioned the use of the Crypt and the Chapel of our Lady in the Undercroft as a place of worship and work for the Huguenots in Canterbury.
Tomb of Archbishop William Courtenay (1396)
Courtenay was an implacable opponent of John Wycliffe (c.1330-1384) and other proto-protestants, who argued, amongst other things, that the law of God came from the Bible, which should be made available, in English, to all men who could read. This ran counter to the orthodox establishment view that the Scriptures could only be interpreted by approved clergy. Wycliffe and his followers were disparagingly referred to as Lollards (from the Dutch: ‘mutterers, mumblers’).
Such was Wycliffe’s growing influence that, in 1382, Archbishop Courtenay convened The Synod of Blackfriars (the so-called “Earthquake Synod”) which banned Wycliffe’s teachings and the use of his English Bible and led to further persecution of the Lollards. During the years that followed, many Lollards and other dissenters were burned at the stake as heretics. Wycliffe was posthumously declared a heretic in 1415 and, in 1428, his corpse was exhumed from its grave in Lutterworth and burned, and the ashes cast into the river. The brutal suppression of dissenters continued throughout the 15th century and beyond. It was not until 1539, 155 years after Tyndale’s death, that the Great Bible (based upon translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale) was ordered to be placed in all English churches on the edict of Henry VIII.
Tomb of Archbishop Hubert Walter (c.1205)
This is a substantial tomb in Purbeck marble, with a gable top with six carved heads – one of which (the first on the left, at the front) may be intended to represent Saladin, the Kurdish sultan. Prior to becoming Archbishop, Hubert Walter accompanied Richard I on the Third Crusade and negotiated a treaty with Saladin in 1191, and was even a guest of Saladin in Jerusalem following the negotiation. On his return to England, Walter took command of the realm during Richard’s more or less permanent absences on Crusades and, when the returning Lionheart was taken captive in 1192 and subsequently imprisoned in Mainz, Germany at the behest of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, Archbishop Walter was instrumental in raising the ransom of 150,000 marks to free him.
Edward of Woodstock (1330-1376), Prince of Wales and elder son of King Edward III was the most celebrated and the most feared warrior of his time. His tomb here in the Trinity Chapel (attributed to Master Mason Henry Yevele) is made of Purbeck marble, and his magnificent brass-overgilt effigy shows him in full armour, spurred and helmeted, with a small bulldog at his feet. Shields around the base of the tomb feature the fleur de lys (signifying the Plantagenet claim to the French throne) and the Prince’s coat of arms – a plume of three ostrich feathers and the motto “Ich diene – “I serve” – a motto which has been adopted by all subsequent Princes of Wales.
The life, marriage and death of the Black Prince
The Prince was married to his cousin (for which he needed papal dispensation) Joan “the Fair Maid” of Kent in 1361. He survived many battles but did not outlive his father and died in 1376, aged 45, of a debilitating bacterial infection contracted while fighting in Spain. When the king, Edward III, died a few months later, in 1377, he was succeeded by the Black Prince’s 12-year-old son, who became Richard II.
The Prince’s Will laid out very specific instructions regarding his tomb, which were followed to the letter, apart from his request to be buried in the crypt undercroft, alongside his chantry chapel (now the Huguenot Chapel). The Black Prince was a national hero and therefore was buried here in the Trinity Chapel alongside the Shrine of Thomas Becket.
The Black Prince’s ‘Achievement’
The prince’s sword disappeared long ago, probably during the upheavals of the English Civil War (1642-51) as did his dagger and sporting shield – and all the precious stones set into his helmet. The items on display over the tomb are faithful replicas made in 1954. The original 14th century achievements were exhibited in a glass case in the southeast transept until 2016, when they were loaned to the Victoria and Albert Museum for its Opus Anglicanum embroidery exhibition. It had been assumed that the achievements had been purpose-made to adorn the tomb but conservation work carried out for the exhibition revealed that the jupon had actually been worn by the prince during his lifetime. It is planned to put the original achievements back on display when a new Exhibition space in the crypt opens (date: tbc).
As with the windows in the north aisle, the original purpose of the six windows in the south aisle was to depict some of the miracles that were observed at the tomb of Thomas Becket by the monks Benedict and William between 1180 and 1220. The windows here in the south aisle suffered much greater damage at the hands of Puritans in 1643 during the English Civil War, as they were more accessible from the outside. As a result of this, the second and fourth windows and most of the third, contain only plain glass.
The first Miracle Window
1-8 The 8 roundels in the top half of the window were reconstructed in 1893 using fragments of ancient glass and do not relate to any specific miracle, though the borders and background are thought to be original.
9-12 The next 4 roundels in the lower half of the window, tell the story of William Kellett, a carpenter who injures his leg with an axe and is visited by St Thomas. His leg heals miraculously and, after giving thanks at the tomb, he is able to go back to work.
13-16 The bottom 4 roundels tell the story of Adam the Forester who is shot through the neck with an arrow when he comes across two poachers, who make off with a deer. In his sick bed, Adam is shown drinking the Holy Water of St Thomas, and is visited by three bearded friends. Miraculously cured, he is pictured giving thanks at the tomb.
The third Miracle Window
The fifth Miracle Window
1-4 Starting from the top of the window, the first cluster of four panels tells the story of the groom, John of Roxburgh. His horse bolts and throws him into the River Tweed. He is rescued by St Thomas and crawls out of the River. Two friends in a boat, search for his body, whilst John is happily tucked up by the fire at the toll-keeper’s house.
The remaining panels mainly consist of unrelated scenes. Those that can be explicitly identified are:
9 The 3rd half roundel on the right shows Henry of Beche, lame, barefoot and on crutches, making a pilgrimage with his parents.
13 The fifth central roundel down, shows a girl, possibly Cicely, the daughter of Jordan of Plumstead, sitting up in bed, after recovering from a fatal illness after being given a girdle (held in the background) dipped in holy water from the tomb of St Thomas.
14-15 The bottom two half-roundels depict a young boy, Gilbert, son of William le Brun. On the left, Gilbert sits up in bed, kissing his Father’s bearded face, while his Mother looks on. On the right, Gilbert, accompanied by his parents, is laying a coil of wire on the tomb.
The sixth Miracle Window
As we leave the south side of Trinity Chapel, via the steps down towards the South Choir Aisle, take a moment to examine the steps themselves. These are the Pilgrim’s Steps. For over 300 years from 1220 (until the Reformation of Henry VIII swept it all away in 1538) pilgrims were expected to climb this last flight of steps to reach the Shrine of Thomas Becket on their knees. The groove worn into the stone steps by the knees of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims is clearly visible.