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