St Augustine's Conduit House

From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search

St Augustine's Conduit House in Canterbury, in Kent, is the remaining visible part of a remarkable water system which supplied St Augustine's Abbey in the city during the Middle Ages.

Today its remains are to be found stood on a steep hillside in the city, and in the care of English Heritage.

History and structure

The Conduit House was built in the mid-12th century to supply water from the springs above Canterbury down to the Abbey. It contained an stone-built octagonal tank which received the spring water by way of four ducts tunneled into the hillside to the springs. From the tank the water flowed down to the town through three-inch lead pipes.

The water channeled to the abbey may once have filled a water tower at the abbey, from which it could supply the kitchen and other parts of the monastic complex, but the Abbey has long since been left in ruin so that any such structure is lost.

In the 18th century, the holding tank was divided by a chalk and brick wall, and a new barrel-vaulted roof was built: it is presumed that this work was ordered by Sir John Hales as he was the owner of the site at this time and he gave the city in 1773 the use of the reservoir to supplement its water supply.

The Conduit House today

The walls of the tank survive to a height of approximately 10 feet, built of flint and chalk blocks on chalk block foundations. The internal wall faces are of coursed flint and were originally rendered. The bed of the tank is of natural earth, with a high clay content.

In February 1988 the roof of the conduit house collapsed, though the tank and access tunnels can still be seen.

Outside links