REVIVED, SELF-SUSTAINING AND ACCESSIBLE TO ALL

The 2017 Options Appraisal showed that the Palace site’s long-term survival depends on its buildings being sympathetically reinterpreted to meet modern needs – either as a number of private residences or by making some capable of generating enough revenue to be self-sustaining.

While there is romance in preserving the Palace’s buildings as they are, their future can only be assured if their custodians can afford the cost of their continuing maintenance.

Our vision is to make the Palace’s former Great Hall together with a portion of its attendant Paddock and currently concreted Eastern Court a self-sustaining mixed-use centre of community, education, culture, heritage and recreational facilities.

The unique heritage value 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 has been a priority of the Project’s first phase.

We have identified and are exploring a number of potential uses for the Great Hall and attendant parts of the complex:

The Great Hall

To the east of the main court that is framed to the north by the Archbishop’s Private Apartments, and initially quite separate from them, is the Great Hall.

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 its current height, and lit by fine tracery octa-foil 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 only hints 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 story of the Charing Archbishop’s Palace complex

The Eastern Court

Beyond the Great Hall to the east is a second court, which once 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.

After first undertaking careful archaeological investigation, intended to rediscover the precise location and purpose of these facilities, we envisage creating additional dedicated visitor facilities and a learning centre here.

The Paddock

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

After archaeological investigation, in a portion of the eastern side of paddock, in line with the western boundary of the north-south axis of the Great Hall, we envisage creating community gardens, reflecting garden styles from periods throughout the Palace complex’s history with an area providing a venue for occasional events and other recreational activities.

Vehicular access to the facilities in the Great Hall and Eastern Court will be provided by a new road constructed on the eastern side of the paddock off Pett Lane to the north, with green site parking located adjacent to the Eastern Court.

Additional pedestrian access off the Marketplace in the centre of Charing village will be provided by reinstating a redundant gateway in a portion of the boundary wall accessed through the yard of Charing’s historic St Peter & St Paul Church.

Next: REVITALISE

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