REVIVED, SELF-SUSTAINING AND ACCESSIBLE TO ALL

The 2017 Options Appraisal identified that the Palace site’s long-term survival depends on its buildings being sympathetically reinterpreted to meet modern needs – and becoming capable of generating sufficient revenue to be self-sustaining.

While there is romance in preserving the buildings in their current ruinous state, their future can only be assured if they can be revived and reinterpreted to meet today’s needs. Making them capable of generating an income to cover the cost of their continuing maintenance will ensure that the architecture and history of the Palace complex can be experienced by generations to come.

Our vision is to make Charing Archbishop’s Palace a mixed-use centre of community, education, culture and heritage facilities, combined with incubator workspaces designed to support art, craft and creative businesses. Some of these will be housed within the existing structures; others within new spaces, built to restore original volumes now ruined or lost.

The nature of the site is such that any adaptation of the existing buildings will have to be undertaken within the policies and constraints of listed buildings and respect for their current form. This means each will be more suitable for some uses than others. The process of matching space to its suitability to use will be a priority of the Project’s first phase.

Currently we are exploring a number of potential uses for the various parts of the complex:

The Archbishop’s Apartments & Chapel

Forming the northern part of the Palace’s main court, with elements dating from the 13th century, are what were the archbishop’s private apartments and chapel. Of these the eastern half remains, the large western chambers and chapel now in ruin.

At around 1500, in the time of Archbishop Morton, the original stone-built eastern half of the apartments was updated by the addition of a third Tudor brick storey.

We imagine creating residential accommodation or, if the structure permits, craft studios, workshops and small offices here, with the additional potential to recreate the lost volume of the ruined western part to provide additional facilities.

The Great Hall

To the right of the court, and initially quite separate from the private apartments, is the great hall, entered by a handsome porch.

Dating from the 14th century, it is one of the largest surviving halls of its period in Kent and was originally spanned by a great timber roof, twice the current height, and lit by fine tracery windows, one of which survives.

Much modified over time and put to farm use as a barn since the mid 18th century, what remains now an only hint at its former grandeur but has the potential to reveal much more through its restoration.

Here, in a building within a building, designed to highlight aspects of the Great Hall’s architecture, we envisage locating a community, visitor and learning centre, telling the Charing Archbishop’s Palace story.

The Eastern Court

Beyond the great hall to the east is a second court, which housed the palace’s kitchens and other services. Turned to farm purposes, in the 18th century, nothing of these original structures now survives above ground.

However, after careful archaeological investigation intended to rediscover these facilities, we envisage creating craft studios, workshops or small offices here, or see it as an alternative location for a dedicated visitor and learning centre.

The Western Range

Much of the 14th century structure of the western range has been lost or masked through its conversion to agricultural purposes.

We envisage, recreating the original volume of the surviving structure here as the location for a hostelry or workspaces.

The Paddock

To the north of the built structures and covering mover half of the site area is what is now a grassed paddock offering unobstructed views to the North Downs above.

In a small area to the west, adjacent to the current buildings, we envisage creating three new-built residences here. Intended as private home or holiday let accommodation and built in a sympathetic style, these new buildings will provide revenue to fund the continuing maintenance of the site.

Elsewhere the majority of the paddock would become a community garden, reflecting garden styles through the Palace’s history and provide a venue for occasional events. Access to the Palace complex will be provided by a new road constructed on the eastern side of the paddock, with site parking located adjacent to the eastern court

Next: REVITALISE

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