Skip to content

About the Collection

Gone are the days when people learned about history simply from reading books. People are increasingly looking for experiences that bring history to life in an engaging way. Our vision is that people will experience the story of the Darent Valley where it happened. Given the location in Otford, there will be an emphasis on the Village itself, but exhibits will be from the wider Darent Valley.

We seek to be imaginative in the way history is brought to life, and we aim to be of interest to people of all ages. Our heritage is our inheritance and provides clues as to our past and how Darent Valley and its society have evolved. Our heritage comprises the tangible (e.g. artefacts and archives), the natural (e.g. local landscape, flora and fauna) and the intangible (e.g. customs, folklore, sports and crafts).

The Museum in the Archbishop’s Palace at Otford will ensure that as much as possible of the Collection is on display to the public and will seek to make the reserve collection accessible by use of appropriate technologies. It will also engage in an outreach programme in which travelling collections will be made available to schools and libraries in the Darent Valley and London Boroughs.

The seal from a 12th Century ‘Papal bull’ found on the Palace site in 1970 

After lengthy discussions, the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust and the Otford Heritage Centre reached agreement on a programme of close collaboration which, led to a merger of the two organisations in December 2020. In the short term this opened the way for the museum to achieve accredited status. Much of the preparatory work on accreditation has been carried out and the formal application will be made shortly. A complete review and cataloguing of the collection of objects on display in the Otford Heritage Centre has been started and will take some years to be completed!. The long-term intention is that the collection will be displayed in the Palace, in the ground floor space of the conserved and refurbished North West Tower.

A fragment from a Chi Rho, an early Christian symbol, found on the Palace site

While the Collection is reorganised, we regret that we will not be able to accept any new donations of objects.  When this moratorium is over, we will set out our collections and acquisitions policies on this website.

In the longer term, the website will also provide you with access to an interactive museum catalogue, allowing you to visit the collection virtually, and gain insights into the objects on display – in preparation for visiting us in person.


The safety and security of visitors, staff and the objects in our care is a prime concern for the Trust.  The premises are protected by security systems.