Of all the remaining buildings in the Palace complex, the former Great Hall is in the most perilous condition.
Historic England, in its role as guardian of England’s ancient monuments has intervened to save the Great Hall’s north wall from imminent fear of collapse, by reducing its weight 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.
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 creation of Charing Palace Trust in June 2017.
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 stabilise in their current form.
The Options Appraisal also defined the policies by which any restoration programme should be undertaken. These have provided the framework for our restoration project plan.
In 2018 Charing Palace Trust, with the financial support of Heritage Lottery Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund, took the work of the Options Appraisal one stage further by appointing two expert heritage consultancies to assess the viability of its Charing Palace Project and lay out a roadmap for how it might best be brought about.
Fourth Street consulting undertook the Viability Study and Glevum the Scoping Study. Their reports were published and made available to their sponsors in the Autumn of 2018. They showed that the restoration and repurposing of the former Great Hall, supported by a portion of the attendant Paddock, could be made financially viable and gave a route map for how the project could best be realised.
Copies of these two studies will shortly be available to view and download from ‘Key Documents’ in the Our Trust section of this website.