The archbishop's palace


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011028

Date first listed: 03-Jul-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 05-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of The archbishop's palace
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Ashford (District Authority)

Parish: Charing

National Grid Reference: TQ 95444 49480


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Bishops' palaces were high status domestic residences providing luxury accommodation for the bishops and lodgings for their large retinues; although some were little more than country houses, others were the setting for great works of architecture and displays of decoration. Bishops' palaces were usually set within an enclosure, sometimes moated, containing a range of buildings, often of stone, including a hall or halls, chapels, lodgings and a gatehouse, often arranged around a courtyard or courtyards. The earliest recorded examples date to the seventh century. Many were occupied throughout the medieval period and some continued in use into the post- medieval period; a few remain occupied today. Only some 150 bishops' palaces have been identified and documentary sources confirm that they were widely dispersed throughout England. All positively identified examples are considered to be nationally important.

Charing Palace, as an archiepiscopal manor house, is one of a small number of high status residences built in England during the medieval period. The history of the palace and the manor of Charing can be traced back to the eighth century AD, when the land was presented to Christchurch priory at Canterbury, and the records of the convent and cathedral then document the series of building works carried out by subsequent archbishops. The palace is known to have been the favourite residence of several of these archbishops. The buildings which survive are mostly well preserved, and many are still private dwellings or in use by members of the public. They give a good indication of the layout of the original complex, and historic records provide further details of the original function of each structure. The precinct boundary wall survives, indicating the full extent of the palace precinct, while the lack of disturbance to the interior has meant the survival of upstanding and buried archaeological remains relating to the occupation and use of the site.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which is set back from Charing High Street to the north of the parish church, includes the remains of the archiepiscopal manor house, associated buildings and precinct where this has been unaffected by recent development. The buildings, which date principally from the 14th century, include the Great Hall, part of the chapel, the gatehouse and the precinct boundary wall, part of the west range and the present farmhouse.

Land on which to build a house or palace in Charing was given to Christchurch priory at Canterbury in AD 788 by Kenulph. This land remained under the control of the priory until 1545. The buildings forming the palace complex surround a quadrangle which is entered from the south through the original gateway. The barn to the east of the courtyard dates from the 14th century, and was originally the Great Hall, thought to have been built by John Stratford (1333-1348). The farmhouse was begun in the 13th century, but underwent alterations in the 16th and 18th centuries. It was originally part of the north range of the quadrangle, and includes part of the chapel in its north west corner. All that remains of the western side of the courtyard is an outhouse dating from the 14th century. Numbers 1 and 2, Palace Cottages form the south side of the quadrangle, along with the gatehouse. They all date from the 14th century and comprise the gatehouse and porter's lodge, also thought to have been built by John Stratford. Much of the precinct boundary wall is also still standing around the palace enclosure on the north, east and south sides, while on the west the original wall has been rebuilt more recently. The medieval wall stands to a height of between 1.5m and 2m in some places, and was built in flint and mortar. Within the paddocks inside the precinct boundary wall are a number of low earthworks which are associated with the palace buildings.

Henry VIII acquired the palace through exchange with Cranmer in 1545. There is no evidence that he made any alterations to the buildings, and no subsequent monarch made any use of the manor house, but let it out to farm. In 1559 Archbishop Parker made an attempt to become the tenant and farmer of the estate, but he was outbid by Sir Richard Sackville, and the estate passed into private ownership.

Palace Farmhouse, the barn, Palace Cottages and the outhouse to the west are all Listed Grade I, while the boundary wall to the complex is Listed Grade II.

Palace Farmhouse, Palace Cottages, all roads and paths, all modern wooden and wire fencing, modern farm outbuildings and modern walling are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath all these features is included. The barn, boundary wall, medieval outbuilding and all freestanding medieval walling are included in the scheduling, as is the ground beneath them.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 24347

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
West Ashford Rural Area, (1980), 64
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works 1485-1660 , (1982), 63-64
Newman, J, The Buildings of England: North-East and East Kent, (1980), 264
Kipps, P K, 'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 90, (1933), 78-97
Sayer, J, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in The Archiepiscopal Manor House at Charing, , Vol. 16, (1886), 266-268

End of official listing