A remarkable building which has been the subject of a painstaking restoration project. Work is nearing completion and this historic early 13th or 14th century building will shortly become a stunning residence.
On the instructions of The Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust. A remarkable building which has been the subject of a painstaking restoration project. Work is nearing completion and this historic early 13th or 14th century building will shortly become a stunning residence. - Entrance Hall - First Floor Reception Room - Kitchen with Breakfast Area - 2/3 Bedrooms -1/2 Bath/Shower Rooms - Cloakroom - Garden - 2 Dedicated Parking Spaces Listed Grade I Charing Conservation Area Site of a Scheduled Ancient Monument The Prior’s Lodging is the original gatehouse which forms part of the ancient Archbishop’s Palace at Charing and is the second part of a planned ongoing restoration project. It is one of the most iconic parts of the Palace and is situated adjacent to the Listed Grade I church of St Peter and St Paul at the north east corner of Market Place. Although it lies close to the heart of the village it has probably not been occupied for centuries and, being redundant, gradually fell into disrepair. As restoration work nears completion the building will shortly be free from the scaffolding that has been shrouding it, allowing the gatehouse to emerge like a butterfly from its chrysalis. Thanks to the dedicated team working for The Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust, the former gatehouse it set to have a secure future. The Trust has decades of experience rescuing properties, not just in Spitalfields but across the country. They have a reputation for transforming buildings and making them fit for the 21st century, whilst not compromising the architectural integrity of the original structure. HISTORICAL NOTE The architectural and historic importance of the Archbishop’s Palace and associated buildings cannot be over-emphasised. As a group of buildings they have been given the highest degree of protection under this country’s listing and ancient monument legislation. The exact date of the earliest buildings which form the Archbishop’s Palace is uncertain. It is thought that earliest of the buildings still standing probably date from the 13th century. However, it may be the site of even earlier structure. There are accounts of Archbishop Peckham (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1279 to 1292 using the Palace as he travelled between Canterbury and London. The initial layout of the current buildings has been attributed to Archbishop Winchelsea (1245-1313) but Archbishop Peckham also seems to have been influential. He is recorded as having been granted permission by the King to divert the King’s highway at Charing in order to further improve the buildings at the Palace. It is thought by some to have been at this point that the gatehouse was added, together with the range facing the Market Place however, Margaret Wood, author of the definitive book ‘The English Medieval House’ dates it two circa 1221. Further work art Charing was undertaken in the 14th century by Archbishop Stanford when the position of Archbishop was not just head of the Church, but also Treasurer and Chancellor of England. Safe access to London was essential so a “chain” of residences between Canterbury and London was established, each to be within a day’s ride. The Archbishop’s Palace at Charing was undoubtedly intended to be practical, but it was to have “presence” and demonstrate power. It had to accommodate not only the Archbishop, his officials and servants, but also his illustrious guests, Amongst those were both Henry VII and Henry VIII and the members of their Courts. Arthur Mee in his Kent edition of ‘The King’s England’ described how Charing had witnessed great pagaents in its time as well as the stay in 1520 of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, with courtiers and servants, totaling 5,000 men, en-route to the Field of the Cloth of Gold near Calais. As the buildings at Charing would not have been able to accommodate all 5,000 men one is left wondering whether the village was given a “preview” of the amazingly elaborate pavilions and silken tents, woven with gold strands and embellished with gems, which gave the “Field of the Cloth of Gold” its name. Pevsner in his Kent edition of ‘Buildings of England’ attributes the Archbishop’s Palace to yet another Archbishop, Archbishop Nortum (1420-1500) who made “great buildings at Charing”. Sadly it was their grandeur that was their downfall. Henry VIII decided Charing was rather to his liking and seized possession in 1545. The Palace remained in the ownership of the Crown and occupied by tenants until about 1635 when the freehold was sold to Sir Robert Honywood. It gradually declined in status, eventually becoming a farmstead with outbuildings. Fortunately, the fabric of the buildings, with the exception of the roof of the great hall, remained remarkably unaltered and is now an exceptional example of medieval architecture. Through much of the 18th and 19th centuries the Archbishop’s Palace was owned by the Wheler family who, during the 1800s let it to the Cheeseman family and then from 1862 to Richard Day. Eventually the Wheler family sold what had by then become known as Palace Farm in the 1950s. Many of the lesser buildings had fallen into a poor state of repair, having been used as farm workers’ dwellings. Eventually in 2000 a campaign was launched, with the considerable support of the owner and many of the residents of Charing, to secure funding to restore the buildings. It featured in the 2004 series of the BBC Restoration competition and was voted winner of the South East Region final. However, this brought no financial aid and the buildings continued to be at risk. The properties were brought to the attention of The Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust and with the continued support of the Architectural Heritage Fund it has been possible to start restoration work. In consultation with representatives from Historic England and a number of the Charing residents considerable progress has already been made not just to stabilize the buildings but to bring them back into use. 2 Palace Cottage which lies to the west of the gatehouse has already been restored and is now occupied. The gatehouse is the second property to be brought back to life.
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