This area of the APCT website provides access to the digital archive of the repairs and restoration of the Archbishops’ Palace and investigations into the site and buildings.
Repair work 2016
The repair work carried out in 2016 by Piera under the supervision of Thomas Ford and Partners was documented by Rod Shelton in a series of newsletters for the Community. A compilation of the newsletters is available here: Tower newsletter compilation
Survey work 2018
A first step in the conservation of the Gatehouse, was to make a photographic survey of the interior and exterior. This was carried out in August 2018.
In 2015, the owners of Castle House applied to build a kitchen extension, necessitating laying a supporting concrete foundation to a depth of 0.45m across an area of 12.5 square metres. Historic England requested that a Written Scheme of Investigation be submitted, followed by limited excavation to determine the likelihood of archaeological features being present. This excavation was carried out by the author in August 2015, assisted by members of West Kent Archaeological Society. Archaeological features were uncovered, and – after consultation with Historic England – it was decided to excavate the whole area. This was duly carried out in 2016. This is the report of that work, included here by kind permission of Kevin Fromings. Castle House final report 2016
A geophysical survey at Castle House was carried out in 2016 to determine through an earth resistance survey whether archaeological remains of 3 different structures exist in the garden of Castle House, those being any remains of Otford Palace, a Roman Villa discovered in 2012/13 in an adjacent field, and also a structure discovered during a small evaluation excavation on the property. The results produced anomalies likely to be associated with the Roman Villa and with the Palace, no anomalies are likely to represent earlier phases of Castle House. The report, by Andrew Putman, Kevin Fromings and Geoff Burr is © Kent Archaeological Society and is included here by kind permission of the Society. Castle House Geophysics Report
Otford Great Park, Little Park and New Park
Susan Pittman (2011) Elizabethan and Jacobean Deer Parks in Kent, PhD Thesis Kent, is available on the Kent Archaeological Society website
Significance Assessments and Change of Use – The Case of Otford Palace
Holly Cooper, a MArch student at the University of Kent, Canterbury studied the Archbishops’ Palace for her final year project.
“This paper aims to cement the prominent role that significance should play, when determining a future for the remaining tower and gatehouse at the Palace. It establishes that an appropriate future strategy can be defined by careful analysis, considering the history, surroundings and current contextual position of the buildings. The dissertation then goes on to examine and evaluate significance using traditional techniques, as defined by Bernard Feilden and The Heritage Lottery Fund, in conjunction with Primary research to evaluate the next phase of life for The Palace, which is currently listed as a scheduled ancient monument.
“The utilisation of original photographs and on site drawings, in conjunction with a knowledge of architectural techniques, unpicks the story left behind within the current site, and provides an insight into any forms of significance not covered by the two conventional methods of analysis. This results in the holistic understanding of the area, which is then used to determine its future role within the village of Otford.
“The research concludes by presenting a strategy for the future of Otford Palace. The Palace is deemed too valuable to be left to ruin, and in a vulnerable state. As its original use is no longer functional or viable, a change of use is inevitable. The heavy community engagement with the building highlights its current cultural significance to the local area, and influences the results accordingly. The investigation finds that the remaining tower at Otford Palace should not fall into private ownership, but instead be utilised as an asset by the local community.”
The final report – Significance Assessments and Change of Use – The Case of Otford Palace – is included here by kind permission of Holly Cooper and the University of Kent.
The Castle House Papers
This is a collection of papers relating to the transfer of Otford Palace site and buildings to the Sevenoaks Rural District Council (now Sevenoaks District Council), and to St Thomas a Becket’s Well which is located in the grounds of Castle House. They have been assembled and made available by kind permission of Irene Roy, the current owner of Castle House.
The Otford Palace Site
St Thomas a Becket’s Well
Historic England Archive papers
How did one approach the Otford Palace?
Walking from the Otford pond to the Palace it is easy to assume that the slightly elevated lane that passes Chantry Cottage was the access route to the 16C Archbishop ’s Palace. However, a moment’s reflection suggests that this is unlikely.
This article, based on the archives of the Otford and District Historical Society, was first published in the Otford History and Heritage Newsletter, Autumn 2019, no 19. It is included in the Otford Palace archive by kind permission of Charles Shee and Alan Williams, editor of the Newsletter.