RECOVERING PAST GLORIES

Some of the remaining buildings on the site are in a perilous condition. The Great Hall, once the most imposing of the Palace’s buildings in which the archbishop held court is particularly at risk.

Historic England, in their role as guardians of England’s ancient monuments have intervened to save the Great Hall’s north wall from imminent fear of collapse, by taking weight out of it and supporting it with props, but these are only interim measures and the Great Hall’s long-term preservation can only come through its careful stabilisation and complete restoration.

Similarly, for the Palace’s other principal structures – the archbishop’s apartments and western accommodation range, currently used as a stables; northern garderobe; and the perimeter wall. The clearance and renewal of water drainage systems and removal invasive plant life will save them from the immediate risk of further decline and will enable the development of a comprehensive restoration plan that will ensure their survival.

Studies into how best the Palace might be protected and given a sustainable future commissioned by Historic England and Ashford Borough Council in 2015 showed the way and became the catalyst for The Charing Palace Project.

Termed an Options Appraisal, the studies investigated three elements. The Drury McPherson Partnership, specialists in built heritage, looked into the significance of the site, from historical, architectural and archaeological perspectives, and coordinated the study overall. The Thomas Ford Partnership investigated the condition of each of the site’s buildings and developed outline plans for their conservation and potential future uses. While surveyors, Colliers International, assessed the financial viability of the various restoration and usage options considered and how best the Palace might be given a sustainable future.

These studies, reported in March 2017, confirmed Charing Archbishop’s Palace to be one of the top 2% of historic buildings in England. They also confirmed the perilous current condition of its buildings, which are estimated to require £1.5 million to restore in their current form.

The Options Appraisal also defined the policies by which any restoration programme should be undertaken. These will provide the framework for our detailed restoration project plan.

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