Cozens, Walter (biog)

(1858-1928) Builder, Archaeologist, & founder of Canterbury Archaeological Society

Walter Cozens was born, worked, lived and died at Canterbury.  He was a prominent local builder and keen amateur archaeologist.  He was instrumental in the founding of the Canterbury Archaeological Society in 1921 and was also involved in the launch of the Canterbury Arts Council.  He served as a City councillor 1922-25.  The family business was run for many years at 37 High Street.  His firm built the Simon Langton Schools which were lost in the Baedeker raid in 1942.

His impact on Canterbury life was widespread:

  • he was responsible for the laying of paving stones in the 1920s marking the locations of the main historical sites in the city – fourteen of these survive today
  • he maintained a museum of Canterbury history on the corner of St Dunstan’s and Station Road West (lost in WW2 bombing)
  • in 1906 he wrote a short history the city Old Canterbury which refers throughout to artefacts and maps held in his museum
  • in 1924 he produced the beginner’s guide “Archaeology made easy” which includes a photo of crazy paving in his back garden laid out as twelve features taken from Saxon churches
  • in the 1930s All Saints Court in All Saints Lane was declared unfit for human habitation and was due for demolition – Cozens Builders (by now run by Walter’s son W S Cozens) stepped in and organised its restoration

Walter was involved – as a key witness – in the late 1870s in a high-profile London murder trial.

He is buried in St Martin’s graveyard and beside his tomb stone lies a sarsen stone – to mark his career as a builder perhaps.

Sources: Walter Cozens’ image appeared in Canterbury Revisited  (Derek Butler, Sutton Publishing, 1997); also assistance from Geoff Downer; obituary Kentish Gazette 28 April 1928;  also Lyle (1981); Wilmot(1989)