Then & Now

Tantara Gatehouse Etching – Then & Now

Tantara Gatehouse Etching - Then & Now
Tantara Gatehouse Etching – Then & Now

This then & now comparison shows an etching of the Tantara Gatehouse, one of the largest surviving fragments of the old Abbey of St Mary, Kenilworth, matched as closely as possible to its modern day vantage point in June 2021. A more precisely matched ‘now’ vantage point can’t quite be achieved, as a large yew tree has grown about where the artist would have sat.

The Abbey as a whole was designated a Grade I listed monument in June 1949, in which the Gatehouse is referred to as a “Ruinous C14 sandstone gatehouse, early English and decorated”. The Abbey Fields are also designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by Historic England, where it is described a little more verbosely as “It is constructed of red sandstone, with two vaulted chambers to the west of the cart arch on the ground floor. The gatehouse is believed to be of 14th century date, and its proximity to the west end of the church suggests it was the gate to the inner court”. 

The structure itself remains largely unchanged since the ‘then’ etching was conducted. The left hand buttress appears to have a bit more masonry to it in the ‘then’ image, as does the mostly missing front archway. Substantial shoring up of the buttresses and the roof have been done over the years and the passageway on the right has since been dug out, with a retaining wall built to allow pedestrian access to it.

Within the pedestrian arch the old ‘Clappergate’ style can be glimpsed, which remained in situ until it was partially destroyed by vandals. It can now be seen, in its restored state, thanks to the hard work of Cyril Hobbins, in the Abbey Museum & Heritage Centre.

Tantara Gatehouse etching – line of sight

It is debatable what the cottages in the ‘then’ image are, shown to the right of the Tantara. Looking at the line of sight diagram above, taken from Google Maps, they could be on the site of the recently renovated house next to The Pound, or they could be on the other side of the road – a distance of over 140 metres away. Having said that, there is another distant cottage depicted to the left of the Tantara too, so either is possible. Or they could just be artistic licence!

Thanks to Robin Leach for adding his observations to this article.