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King's School in Canterbury bids for improved security to keep out trespassers from St Augustine's Abbey


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England’s oldest school wants to beef up security to prevent visitors to a neighbouring historic attraction trespassing on its land.

The King’s School says several people exploring St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, in recent years have climbed over fencing at the ruins to get onto its playing fields.

The fence dividing the playing field and St Augustine's Abbey which people jump over. Picture: King's School
The fence dividing the playing field and St Augustine's Abbey which people jump over. Picture: King's School

Having accessed the school grounds, members of the public have on occasion been close to reaching pupil boarding houses.

Bosses at the £13,550-per-term institution therefore want to address the safety issue and bolster security.

They have drawn up plans to install 2.4-metre-high fencing and gates at access points to the school site.

Initially, a replacement fence at the border with the Abbey was considered, but it was soon acknowledged the work would have a “detrimental impact” on the ruins.

So rather than put an improved blockade next to the English Heritage-run site, “discreet” security fencing is planned at the other end of the playing field to prevent trespassers entering the school grounds.

Planning papers state: “The southern boundary of the school’s playing field is formed by a simple and relatively low timber post and rail fence.

“On several occasions in recent years, members of the public have climbed over the fence and have fortunately been challenged when found to be in close proximity to the school’s pupil boarding houses to the north.

“To safeguard pupil safety, the school would therefore like to strengthen the boundary between the ruins and the school’s land.”

In a report commissioned by the school, Canterbury Archaeological Trust says Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon and medieval archaeology is likely to be present at the site.

It says the remains could be “disturbed or destroyed” when work is carried out, so a full archaeological watching brief will be required during any excavations.

The King's School neighbours the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey
The King's School neighbours the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey

Both the Abbey and the school grounds are within Canterbury’s Unesco World Heritage Site and the land is an Area of Archaeological Importance, so any plans will be heavily scrutinised.

Earlier this month, the school, which was established in 597, appointed its first ever female head teacher.

Jude Lowson is planning to bring a “fresh and modern outlook” to King’s, which boasts Christopher Marlowe, Michael Morpurgo and William Harvey as notable former pupils.

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