Oak timbers: Palace Street, Canterbury

Follow @OakTimbers on Instagram

Buckle up, there’s a lot of timber coming! This post concludes the series of posts (literally) showcasing Canterbury’s timber framed buildings. Of course there are many more for you to see and explore if you ever visit.

Palace Street must be one of Canterbury’s most interesting historic parts of the city itself. Some of the buildings on this small road are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years old.

Number 8 (above) is approximately 800 years old! So the oaks it’s built with were growing at least 1000 years ago in Anglo-Saxon woodlands (pre-Norman invasion of 1066). There’s more detailed information and images on this site.

I overheard the man pictured here giving a guided city tour. He pointed out that the sun emblem was how people once showed their house to be insured – the original Sun Insurance company logo, now the RSA group.

Buildings insurance was created in London after the great fire of 1666 when the city of was devastated. You can imagine that a lot of timber-framers were lost then, part of the problem really.

That demon carving is actually really weird. I believe they were used to ward off bad luck. Life will have been incredibly hard in the 1200-1800s so you’d do what you could, I suppose. Then again, this website quotes dates much later than the building itself. The plaque belongs to the Historic Buildings of Kent CPRE group.


In the windows of the house you can see the cathedral’s reflection. A little further down the road was Conquest House, another Historic Buidling of Kent:

Peering in through the windows it was possible to see a plan of the interior. Check it out below:

Looking further into the room there was a rather old fresco (I think) above the open fireplace. The red signs on the wood below reads: “Please do not touch the painting. It was drawn circa 1625 and is very fragile”.

I wasn’t the only person peering through the glass to try and learn more about this intriguing building.

Down at the bottom of the street, but in no way at the bottom of the pile, is the The Catching Lives Bookshop. It’s famous for its crooked doorway.

Charles Dickens visited Canterbury and is quoted (in the doorway) as describing the house as follows: โ€..A VERY OLD HOUSE BULGING over the roadโ€ฆleaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement belowโ€ฆโ€ (1849)

Built in around 1615, the dodgy doorway is said to have been caused when a chimney was altered.

The bookshop is run by volunteers and sales go to homelessness charity Catching Lives.

Thanks for reading.

Follow @OakTimbers on Instagram

Oak timbers: All Saints Lane, Canterbury

Follow @OakTimbers on Instagram

All Saints Lane is a residential cul-de-sac (apologies to anyone living there who saw me peering in) which has one incredible stretch of timber framing. Turns out you can rent one of the cottages and they have their own website. Possibly the least information you’ll find on any website, however.

All Saints Cottage is dated to the 1500s and is described on the Historic England website as an “L-shaped timber-framed range.” According to this TripAdvisor review, it “was a pilgrims’ rest associated with Eastbridge Hospital. It later became cottages. At one time, a school of dancing operated on its upper level, which comprises one, very long room.”

I hope those dancers didn’t bang their heads too often on those low-hanging oak beams! Looking at these these buildings from the outside, it’s the squiffy-ness that can give a sense of their age. This is not a technical term, but if it’s neat and tidy it’s probably from the 1900s.

I think a lot of people consider all doors in England to look like this. They don’t.

These are the other demons I mentioned in a previous post. The one on the left hand side has hoofs, the one on the right seems to be a lion with a mane. It seems the hoofs are indicative of a demonic or devilish nature.

In this photo from the AirBnB page you can see how it’s been swallowed up by a side extension. Poor timbers.

If you’re not staying for the night, All Saints Lane is a dead-end, so your only option is to head back out onto St. Peter’s Street.

Follow @OakTimbers on Instagram