Background

The site of Archbishop’s Palace in Otford, Kent, dates back to 821 AD but it was in 1515 AD that Archbishop Warham built one of the largest palaces in England, comparable in size to Hampton Court. In the 17th Century, the buildings fell into disrepair and now all that remains is part of the North Range – the North West corner tower, part of the Northern Gatehouse and connecting wall which has been turned into a row of three small cottages.  A short video produced by Barbara Darby and narrated by Rod Shelton shows the Palace was it was in Tudor times.  You can watch it here.

The remain that you see today were built on top of a succession of medieval manor houses and a Roman Villa.  A set of drone images taken in August 2018 show the buildings of the North Range as they are today.  There is also a short video sequence of the Palace from the air.

Otford Palace is of exceptional significance for

  • The evidence which it provides for the form and architectural character of what was one of the outstanding buildings of early 16th century England.
  • Its archaeological potential to yield much more information about that building, particularly on the moat island, and its medieval predecessors.

Otford Palace is of considerable significance for

  • The evidential value of the adaptation of the north-west range by the Sidney family.
  • Its ability to illustrate the form and scale of a late medieval archiepiscopal palace, despite its fragmentary survival.
  • The aesthetic qualities, designed and fortuitous, of the north range building in its open space setting.
  • The contribution it makes to the character and appearance of Otford Conservation Area.
  • The insight it provides into the character and ambition of Archbishop Warham.

Otford Palace is of some significance for

  • As an illustration, especially with the archive material, of the struggle for the conservation of historic places during the 20th
  • Its contribution to the identity of Otford and its community today.

The Otford and District Historical Society takes a keen interest in the site and the Otford Heritage Centre (in the High Street) houses a model of the Palace as envisaged in Tudor times, together with numerous artefacts.

The site, the Tower and the gatehouse are owned by Sevenoaks District Council which intends to grant a 99-year lease to the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust.

The local community would like to see this significant historical building conserved and developed as a focal point for the Darent Valley community. To that end, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation – The Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust (APCT) – has been established to conserve the site and buildings and  to operate it as a self-sustaining community resource.

A concise history of the Palace can be found in: Ward, C. 92017) A guided walk around Otford Palace. Otford and District Historical Society. Otford.  ISBN 978-0-9956479-2-3.  You can buy the book from the Otford Heritage Centre, 29 High Street, Otford.

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