Although the Chapter House is not actually the cloisters (obviously) it leads off them, so I think it counts here as a tip. You can't access it by any route other than passing through at least part of the cloisters.
The Chapter House in a Medieval monastery was where the community met to make its daily decisions. Why 'chapter' house? Simply because it was here that a chapter of the rule of the monastery was read each day to the monks.
Canterbury's Chapter House is the largest in England, a soaring light-filled room with an exquisitely detailed ceiling. It dates from the 1300s but was restored in the late 1800s to mark the 1300th anniversary of the coming of St Augustine: the stained glass in both east and west windows dates from that restoration. The wonderful ceiling is made of Irish oak beams.
Around the room are double rows of stone seats for the monks, with the prior having a more ornate 'throne' at the eastern end.
The Chapter House is accessible when the cathedral is open for visiting, when you'll have to pay to enter the precincts.
The entrance fee you pay when you enter Canterbury cathedral precincts covers access to the cathedral itself. So if you visit the area when the cathedral is closed (e.g. for a service, or after its ordinary closing time) you'll be able to explore the cathedral precincts for nothing.
And it's well worth doing so, even if your visit includes the cathedral interior. The monastery buildings (cloister, Chapter House etc) are all on the northern side of the cathedral and although some are now partially ruined they are still a wonderfully evocative place to wander.
The four sides of the Great Cloisters which you see today date from around 1400, replacing the Norman cloisters built at the same time as the cathedral. The beautifully arched ceilings are covered in bosses, many of which show the arms and symbols of people who donated funds for the building during its original construction. There have been later additions though: there are bosses for various monarchs, past and present, and one for Pope John Paul who visited in 1982.
The great and the good are all very well, but I much preferred looking at the numerous bosses which show animals, real and mythical, and heads of ordinary Medieval folk. I'm certain there's also more than one Green Man, although I wasn't able to find him (I got neck-ache!).
The bosses were originally coloured but were covered with whitewash in later centuries. A programme of restoration has brought back their original Medieval appearance as far as is possible (and as far as can be judged).
Burials within the cloister ceased around the mid-1800s, but you can still see some well-worn imprints on the floor of the many brass memorial plates which once lay there.
Note the green grass :) Ahhhh .. the "mists" of southeastern England! Good for the complexion, lousy on the knees ;) The vaulting in the cloister dates to the late 14th century! Apparently the minks worked on their copying under these vaults!
Today the main entrance on the western side of the cathedral was closed so I had to walk to the northern side first, there were the Great Cloister can be found. From here you will have another amazing view of the cathedral's exterior. What a beauty!! It was noon and there was a two minute silence to remeber the victims of the July 7 bombings in London, precisely a week ago today. This lady who worked for the cathedral asked me if I would like to join the mass in the crypt but I said "I'm sorry, but I don't go to church." On which we both had to laugh. The lady said "Then what are you doing here?", so I replied "well you know what I mean." She nodded and off I went to explore the other precincts around the church.
When Canterbury was a Benedictine monastery, the Cloister was the centre of the administration of its daily life. Around the square, and in buildings off on each side, the young monks were trained, the domestic arrangements were made and the Community met.
Who built this part
It was designed and built around 1400 by a Kentish Man, Stephen Lote, On the ceiling of the Cloisters are bosses that bear the arms of individuals who have donated money to the construction and decoration of the Cathedral.
Whose arms ??
the arms of Archbishop Robert Runcie and Pope John Paul II and Prince Charles were added to celebrate the Papal visit on the 29th May, 1982.