image for Exhibition item typeThe Ancestors at Canterbury Cathedraladd to shortlist

    Exhibition, Mon 18 May - Sun 23 Aug 2015

    Meet The Ancestors

    Meet The Ancestors

    Canterbury Cathedral, © Cathedral Enterprises

    Canterbury Cathedral, © Cathedral Enterprises

    Canterbury Cathedral © Cathedral Enterprises

    Canterbury Cathedral © Cathedral Enterprises


    Canterbury Cathedral Visits

    01227 762862


    The Precincts,
    CT1 2EH


    Come and meet the Ancestors

    Canterbury Cathedral is preparing to exhibit some of its earliest and most important surviving stained glass.

    Canterbury Cathedral's great treasure of medieval stained glass is crowned by a seriess of life-size figures representing the Ancestors of Christ, which date to the late 12th and early 13th centuries. An exhibition, in the Cathedral's Chapter House, entitled The Ancestors will provide a unique opportunity to view these major works of medieval art at close quarters. The exhibition will run from Monday 18 May to Sunday 23 August, 2015.

    Designed to be see at great height, they are ususally only visible from a great distnace. After two hugely successful exhibitions in the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the exhibition now gives British and continental audiences the opportunity to 'meet the Ancestors' face-to-face, before they return to the rebuilt Great South Window later this year.

    In Canterbruy, twenty-one figures will be on show. The monumental designs executed in vigorous bruch strokes were created by some of Europe's finest and most avant-garde artists and, amazingly, their vibrant colours have not faded in over 800 years.

    The series originally numbered eighty-six life-sized seated patriarchs of the Old Testament, largely based on the list of names contained in the Gospel of St Luke (III, 23-28), interpolated with additional names from the Gospel of St Matthew (I, 1-17). It is the largest number of Ancestors of Christ ever produced in any art form. Today forty-three survive, of which twenty-two had to be rescued from crumbling stonework in 2009.

    There is very little comparable stained glass of this quality and age in the world. Recent research indicates that amongst the late Romanesque glass there may even be a few survivors that pre-date the great fire of 1174. This would make them by far the oldest painted windows in Britain. Detailed examination has always been hard as such windows are installed at a high level. Its removal has created a unique opportunity to see the dazzling mediecal art displayed at ground level.

    The exhibition will be accompanied by a number of Friday evening lectures.

    Baby changing facilitiesCoach parties acceptedCredit cards accepted (no fee)Disabled accessDisabled toiletsEducation/study areaFacilities for groupsFacilities for educational visitsFrench signs/guidesGerman signs/guidesItalian signs/guidesOn-site cateringOn-site light refreshmentsPicnic sitePublic toiletsRegional Tourist Board MemberSpanish signs/guidesWelcome HostWheelchairs availableAccepts groupsFacilities for conferencingFacilities for corporate hospitality

    Event details

    Dates Times
    Mon 18 May - Sun 23 Aug 2015
    Monday - Saturday 10.00 to 16.00
    Sunday 12.30 to 15.00
    Please check the website for occasional closures.


    Entrance to the exhibition is free but Precinct charges will apply.



    See location of Canterbury Cathedral on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

    Map reference: TR 151578  Lat: 51.27878 Long: 1.08343

    The Cathedral is located in the centre of Canterbury, within walking distance of both Canterbury East and West stations. Canterbury is only 30 minutes drive from Dover (continental ferries) and Folkestone (Eurotunnel), making it an ideal stop-over en route to London. Fast speed trains bring passengers from Canterbury to London within 56 minutes.

    Accessible by Public Transport: 1 mile from Canterbury East/West station


    • Baby changing facilitiesBaby changing facilities
    • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
    • Credit cards accepted (no fee)Credit cards accepted (no fee)
    • Disabled accessDisabled access
    • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
    • Education/study areaEducation/study area
    • Facilities for groupsFacilities for groups
    • Facilities for educational visitsFacilities for educational visits
    • French signs/guidesFrench signs/guides
    • German signs/guidesGerman signs/guides
    • Italian signs/guidesItalian signs/guides
    • On-site cateringOn-site catering
    • On-site light refreshmentsOn-site light refreshments
    • Picnic sitePicnic site
    • Public toiletsPublic toilets
    • Regional Tourist Board MemberRegional Tourist Board Member
    • Spanish signs/guidesSpanish signs/guides
    • Welcome HostWelcome Host
    • Wheelchairs availableWheelchairs available
    • Accepts groupsAccepts groups
    • Facilities for conferencingFacilities for conferencing
    • Facilities for corporate hospitalityFacilities for corporate hospitality
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