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AHF Loan Investment Helps to Secure the Future of Important Medieval Palace Complex

28 September 2023

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is very pleased to support The Spitalfields Trust with £750,000 of loan investment towards the purchase and repair of the Archbishop’s Palace in Charing, Kent.

The Archbishop’s Palace is a fascinating medieval palace complex, with the original palace site dating back to the 8th century. The buildings still visible now were constructed in around the late 13th and early 14th century as part of the Archbishops' of Canterbury estate. The buildings include the Bishops’ Lodgings, later used as a farmhouse; the Great Hall, originally built for feasting and entertaining, which was subsequently used as a barn; and the guest lodgings, which have been used as stabling for many years.


Image: The Great Hall and the farmhouse at the Archbishop's Palace. 

The site was visited by Henry VII and Henry VIII, who stayed at the Palace with Catherine of Aragon in 1520. After the dissolution of the monasteries and the confiscation of church assets, Henry VIII acquired the palace in 1545. The estate then passed into private ownership and was in use as a farm until the purchase by The Spitalfields Trust.

The Trust has previously restored the gatehouse and cottage, built into the surrounding perimeter wall. With this loan investment enabling further acquisition, the Trust now has the opportunity to continue their work to rescue this important site.


Image: The restored gatehouse at the Archbishop's Palace.

The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with the farmhouse, cottages, barn and western outhouse listed at Grade I and the boundary wall listed at Grade II. The Scheduled site is currently considered to be at the highest priority of risk by Historic England. The priority for the Trust is to work in partnership with Historic England on urgent stabilisation works to the barn/former great hall, concurrently developing a plan for the whole site that will ensure its removal from the Heritage at Risk Register and bring it back into long-term viable use.

The Spitalfields Trust is a rolling building preservation trust that has been campaigning and leading building restoration projects since 1977. The Trust has frequently taken on challenging projects, using any surplus from one building repair project to reinvest in the next building project. The AHF has worked with and supported the Trust with grant and loan investment on many projects over the last forty years, including residential properties in east London, Shurland Hall in Sheppey and Caerwent House in Wales.

Claudia Suckling, Director of The Spitalfields Trust, said:

‘The Spitalfields Trust is delighted that, once again, the Architectural Heritage Fund has been able to lend the Trust the funds necessary to purchase this nationally important site. The work we do would not be possible without their help, as well as the help provided by Historic England and their advisory team in assisting us with urgent repairs. We are excited by the challenge that lies ahead, bringing this important and rare range of early medieval buildings back into good repair, to secure their long-term future.’

Asha Karbhari, Director of Investment at the AHF, said:

‘We’re incredibly pleased to continue to support the fantastic work of The Spitalfields Trust with new loan investment for the acquisition and urgent repair of Charing Palace. The Trust’s vast experience and plans to find a viable use for these hugely significant medieval buildings will permanently secure the site from risk of loss. We look forward to continuing to work with the Trust.'

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