The College of All Saints


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of The College of All Saints
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Maidstone (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 76015 55302

Reasons for Designation

The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges were founded in the 14th or 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down under the Chantries Act of 1547. Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters, both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served royal free chapels. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually came to dominate their other activities. From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges existed during the early medieval and medieval period; of these, 167 were in existence in 1509, made up of 71 prebendal or portional colleges, 64 chantry colleges and 32 whose function was primarily academic. In view of the importance of colleges in contributing to our understanding of ecclesiastical history, and given the rarity of known surviving examples, all identified colleges which retain surviving archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important.

The construction of the college at Maidstone caused a number of important changes to the town - primarily through the elevation of the parish church to a collegiate church. The college itself is also closely associated with the bishop's palace complex in the south of the town. The history of the foundation and construction of the college is well documented, and illustrates the close links between the college and the Archbishops of Canterbury.

The college buildings which stand today are in an exceptionally good state of repair, except for the southern gateway which is not in use, and has been allowed to decay. All the other structures of the college complex which survive have remained in public and private use from the medieval period onwards. Buried archaeological remains will also survive, providing additional information about the structure and layout of the college, and the lives of its inhabitants.


The site includes the upstanding and buried remains of the College of All Saints, Maidstone. The standing structures date mainly from the late 14th century, with some evidence for 16th and 18th century alterations. The monument lies on the eastern bank of the River Medway, to the south of the parish and collegiate church, which is also dedicated to All Saints, and the medieval archbishop's palace. The standing structures include the college gate tower and associated western range, a return wing running from the west end of this refectory range which joins a two-storeyed building known as the Master's House. To the south east of these buildings is a free-standing structure known as the Master's Tower, while at the south of the complex of medieval buildings is the ruined gateway. Of the standing buildings, only the ruined gateway is included in the scheduling.

On 25th June 1395, Archbishop William Courtenay received authorisation from Pope Boniface IX to make the parish church of Maidstone into a college of a master and 24 chaplains and clerks. On the 2nd August of that year, licence was granted by Richard II for the incorporation of the Hospital of St Peter, St Paul and St Thomas of Canterbury and all its possessions into the new college. The church was pulled down and rebuilt, while the college buildings were erected to the south of it. The construction of the college buildings was completed by Archbishop Arundel after Courtenay's death, and by the close of 1397, the work was probably finished. Patronage of the college and church continued to be part of the possessions of the Archbishops of Canterbury until Cranmer exchanged them with Henry VIII.

In the Valor of 1535 the income of the college was given as one hundred and fifty nine pounds seven shillings and ten pence, while by around 1545 this had increased to over two hundred and eight pounds. The college was dissolved by the act of Parliament passed for the suppression of all colleges, free chapels and chantries, anno 1 Edward VI (1546). Upon its suppression, the college was granted to George Brooke, Lord Cobham in fee on 10th May 1549. Nothing more is known of the fate of the college buildings. Some of them have survived, others associated with the complex are shown on maps of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but are no longer visible as upstanding remains. They were probably outbuildings connected with the college which fell into disrepair or disuse and were replaced or demolished. A map of 1821 shows two ponds associated with the college, one to the south of the Master's Tower, and another directly to the south east of the southern gateway; both had been filled in by 1848 and are not included in the scheduling. The first edition OS map of Maidstone, made in the mid-late 19th century shows `College Farm' on the south of the site, incorporating the buildings of the southern gateway, while the college gateway, Master's House and tower all survived much as they stand today. All the buildings associated with the farm have now disappeared, and have been replaced by the 19th century Cutbush Almshouses, and some 20th century houses.

The college gatehouse complex is Listed Grade I, the Master's House Grade II* and the Master's Tower and ruined gateway are both Listed Grade II.

The college gatehouse complex, the Masters' House, the Masters Tower, all modern houses and walls, the surfaces of modern roads, paths and car parks, and all modern fittings such as gate posts, walls, lamp posts, benches and bins are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included. The ruined gateway is included in the scheduling as is the ground beneath it.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Maidstone Town, (1974), 77
Maidstone Town, (1974), 79
Maidstone Town, (1974), 78
Pevsner, N, Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1980), 404-405
Title: Map of the Town of Maidstone in the County of Kent Source Date: 1821 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Surveyor's Drawings - Maidstone (BM #117) Source Date: 1799 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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