28 Palace Street

For many years this building (Image 1) was known as Sir John Boys’ house, on the erroneous supposition that he owned it or lived in it.  (Sir John was recorder of Canterbury and founded Jesus’ hospital in Northgate.)  As Sir John died in 1612, and the date on the roof gable finial has been read as 1617, this was clearly an error.  The 3½ storey building is timber framed (now also steel framed – more below) with jetties towards Palace Street and King Street.  The long rows of horizontal windows support the surmise that it was once used by immigrant weavers.  It is much photographed as it appears to lean markedly to the right.  This leaning, the result of modifications to and piercings of the central chimney stack over many years, culminated in the total collapse of the stack in 1988, with the fall of several tons of brickwork into the cellar.  Dramatic emergency intervention by the City Council and Canterbury Archaeological Trust prevented a collapse, and restoration work, including the insertion of a steel support frame, has saved the building for posterity.  More recently it has been known as the King’s School shop and King’s English bookshop but is now a charity bookshop.

What to see:

  • the much photographed sloping front door, emphasised by the use of a leaning door frame (Image 2)
  • rusticated pargeting (Image 3) – plaster work made to look like stone, may be compared with that used on Queen Elizabeth’s Guest Chamber
  • the grotesque bracket with features – amongst the first in England, reflecting contact by settlers with native Americans (Image 4)
  • at the gable apex the pendant once apparently bore a construction date of 1617 – although recorded in the Canterbury Archaeological Trust survey in 1989, this has become undetectable at from street level (Image 5)

Access: visible from Palace Street and King’s Street

Sources:  Bateman (2001);  Cantacuzino (1970);  Scoffham (1993); Canterbury Archaeological Trust reports (1987-8 and 1988-9) on CAT web site;  English Heritage Images of England web site;  Canterbury Buildings web site