Historic door restored to former glory

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A great deal of tender loving care has gone into the restoration of a door on England’s largest medieval gate.

The West Gate is the only survivor of medieval Canterbury’s original seven ways into the city. Last year Canterbury City Council approached Historic England with a proposal to repair a wooden door within the West Gate’s north east tower.

It had become severely rotten and was leading to a problem with damp within the tower. As the West Gate is a Scheduled Monument, the council had to apply for Scheduled Monument Consent.

The rotten former door

The experts decided the door was not an original but was probably a Georgian design which had elm and metalwork added at a later date in an attempt to make it look older and more ‘authentic’. Some panels had also been etched with possible wartime graffiti.

Maria Buczak, Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Kent and Sussex at Historic England, said: “We gave advice on the heritage significance of the door and how the repairs should proceed in such a way as to conserve this significance as far as possible.

“Collaboration between Historic England, Canterbury City Council and their contractor Hipperson continued throughout as we discussed the issues of fabric retention versus replacement, the recording of graffiti and the reapplication of historically-sensitive finishes.

Repair work underway

“Although the door was too decayed to be scientifically dated and much of the wood had to be replaced, the repair succeeded in retaining the door’s original character and composite appearance.

“We would like to thank the council for commissioning the work and Hipperson for the excellent repair they carried out.”

Vice-chairman of the Regeneration and Property Committee, and the council’s Heritage Champion, Cllr Robert Thomas, said: “We take our responsibility to protect the district’s heritage incredibly seriously especially the pieces of it which are in the council’s control.

“We are in the very early stages of updating our heritage strategy and are drawing on the wealth of knowledge, passion and pride of the experts who live and work in the area before we ask for people’s views more widely.”

The cost of the work was just over £5,000.

The restored north east door

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