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Corona stair tower chambers

Canterbury Cathedral

Client: Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral

An unusual building recording job was undertaken at Canterbury Cathedral when two usually inaccessible chambers beneath the Corona at the easternmost end of the cathedral were opened for inspection, providing the opportunity to record their interiors.

Corona stair tower chambers
Corona stair tower chambers
Corona stair tower chambers

The Corona was built by William the Englishman as part of the late twelfth-century rebuilding of the choir after a devastating fire in 1174. The chambers are located beneath the north and south stair towers, at the foot of spiral staircases. Their entrances were sealed with stone slabs. The chambers have been opened in the past, but very few people have ever been inside and the masonry within has therefore remained in pristine condition for over 800 years.

Corona stair tower chambers: mason's mark
Corona stair tower chambers: mason's mark
Corona stair tower chambers: mason's mark

The chambers have ashlar walls of Caen stone and tufa vaults. Numerous masonry marks are present, these as fresh as the day they were carved, as indeed are the chisel marks and other tooling on the masonry. A drawn survey of the chambers and a record of all the mason’s marks, and other graffiti was made by the Trust. Whether these chambers were used, and if so for what purpose, remains a matter of debate.