This web page was originally written in November 2010 to draw attention to a large sculptured panel in Caen stone (1.3m high and 1.6m long) depicting a religious scene which stood in Rose Lane car park. Its abiding feature seemed to be that no one knew where it originated, despite attempts in 1995 to gather information via a letter and article appearing in the Kentish Gazette. By end November 2010 our investigations were overtaken by events when a reversing van destroyed the entire frieze and surrounding wall. Departing from our guideline that the CHAS Notebook should focus on what can be seen on the ground, the following comments summarise the result of our investigations at the time.
The frieze is thought to have shown the consecration and enthronement of St Thomas of Canterbury (ie Thomas Becket) which took place in Canterbury in the Romanesque cathedral in June 1162, not long before the disastrous fire which destroyed it in 1174. It was probably of Caen stone and probably dated from around 1900. In the late 1970s it was delivered as part of a load of hard core to the Roman Catholic church in Hersden (a colliery village 5 miles NE of Canterbury) for use in the building of a bungalow for the parish priest. Ron Harrison, the foreman of the contractor H Goodsell & Son Ltd, was married to a devout Catholic (Kitty) and felt that it was wrong to treat the frieze in this way. He duly rescued it and had it taken to Watling Street in Canterbury where his company had its yard and offices. The original plan was that the frieze might be incorporated into the side wall of the Marlowe Shopping Arcade which opened in the mid 1980s. When this failed to materialise, Goodsells arranged instead for the frieze to stand in a recess of a garden wall which had belonged to the 17th century house at 16 Watling Street.
Sources: With thanks to Paul Crampton , Kinn McIntosh, Maureen Ingram, Geoff Downer and others for providing helpful information; also Kentish Gazette 2 December 2010