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Monument details

HER Number:TR 15 NE 30
Type of record:Monument
Name:Archbishop's Palace (The Old Palace), Bekesbourne


Site of archepiscopal palace, built during the reign of Henry VII.

Grid Reference:TR 1932 5552
Map Sheet:TR15NE

Monument Types

Associated Finds

Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1005136: Archbishop's Palace, Bekesbourne

Full description

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[TR 19355553] Old Palace on site of Archiepiscopal Palace [NR] (1) A cottage and barn in the grounds of The Old Palace, Bekesbourne, was the gatehouse of Archbishop Cranmer's place, built in 1552, enlarged by Archbishop Parker in the later 16th c., and demolished in the civilWar. The present house is late 18th/19th c. (2) The cottage carries a tablet with Cranmer's initials and the date 1552. Cottage and barn, entred at TR 19375551, much restored, are in good condition. See GPs: AO/65/59/1-2. The gardener reported many shallow-buried wall foundations immediatelyto the SW of the present house, which itself contains some short stretches of thick walling, possibly incorporated remains of the palace. (3) Rescue excavations took place in 1976. During cutting of a drainage trench several wall foundations and a 16th century brick-built sewer were found. Further excavation uncovered Medieval and post Medieval walls and some stratified pottery groups. Excavations continued in 1977 and revealed remains of a substantial 13th-14th century L-shaped building, underlying the 16th century palace. Much Roman occupation debris was found below the Medieval levels including wheel-made and coarse hand-mand (?early Anglo-Saxon) pottery. (4-6) TR 194556. Archbishop's Palace, Bekesbourne. Scheduled monument 366.The prior's apartment and adjoining chapel, the hall and the prior's dormitory and everything else except a lodge and two barns, were builtduring the reign of Henry 7th by Prior Thomas Goldston of Christchurch, Canterbury. At the dissolution the estate passed to Thomas Colepeper and then to Thomas Cranmer who made the buildings into the Archbishop's Palace and built the gateway in 1552. The remains of the palace are in the gardens around the house. (7) The Old Palace, Old Palace Road, Bekesbourne. The house itself was built by Robert Packham in the late C18. At the east end of the south front is a C19 addition forming an L-wing. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533-1554, built a Palace here in 1552, which was enlarged by Archbishop Matthew Parker later in the C16. This was demolished during the Civil War and only the Grade II, 16th c. gatehouse remains which is now a Cottage adjoining on the south-east of the house known as the Old Palace. In the west wall is a four centred stone doorway with a stone over it inscribed "T C (Thomas Cramner) 1552". To the east of the cottage is a red brick barn with a tiled roof with gable ends, hipped waggon entrance and casement windows. (8) [For full description see list]. Additional bibliography. (9-11,14)

From the Register of Scheduled Monument:

According to Hasted, Prior Thomas Goldston of Christchurch Canterbury built the Priors apartment and adjoining Chapel, the hall and priors dormitory and everything else except a lodge and two barns, during the reign of Henry VII. At the Dissolution the estate passed to Thomas Colepepper, and then by Thomas Cranmer who converted to the Archbishop’s Palace, built the gatehouse in 1552. During the Civil War everything was destroyed except for the gatehouse and offices each side, parts of which survive today as Bekesbourne House.

The remains of the Palace are in the gardens around the house and have been partly excavated in 1976-7 by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. The visible remains in the scheduled area are confined to the triangular parcel on W side of site. These consist of a length of about 50’ of brick drainage tunnel, which was discovered and breached in three places by a bulldozer in the mid 1970s and excavated by C.A.T.

There are now no surface indications of the excavation with produced evidence of a fine medieval building underlying the palace levels and a major drain and several brick wall foundations associated with the palace. Area remains largely private garden. A number of fruit trees have been planted in vicinity of area of excavations, of which there is now no surface trace. (15)

Possible elements visible beyond garden boundary to west on aerial photos of 2003.

Tim Tatton-Brown, Arch Cant 1980, 1980, Old Palace, Bekesbourne nr. Canterbury (Article in serial). SKE29329.

<1> OS 6" 1962 (OS Card Reference). SKE48371.

<2> MHLG (1953/11/A) December 1960 11 (OS Card Reference). SKE46964.

<3> F1 ASP 05-FEB-65 (OS Card Reference). SKE41940.

<4> Arch Cant 92 1976 240-1 (OS Card Reference). SKE36094.

<5> Arch Cant 93 1977 216 (TT Brown) (OS Card Reference). SKE36130.

<6> Britannia 9 1978 468 (OS Card Reference). SKE38384.

<7> DOE(IAM) Rec Form 19.10.78 (OS Card Reference). SKE41427.

<8> DOE(HHR) District of City of Canterbury 1980 31 32 (OS Card Reference). SKE41127.

<9> Post Medieval Architecture 12 1978 109 (J Cherry) (OS Card Reference). SKE48547.

<10> CBA Arch in Britain 1977 55-56 (OS Card Reference). SKE38753.

<11> AP CUCAP B2R 87-8 12.07.76 (OS Card Reference). SKE34162.



<14> Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 1997, Watching Brief at Archbishop's Palce Site of, Bekesbourne (Unpublished document). SKE7226.

<15> English Heritage, Register of Scheduled Monuments (Scheduling record). SKE16191.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
---Article in serial: Tim Tatton-Brown, Arch Cant 1980. 1980. Old Palace, Bekesbourne nr. Canterbury. Arch Cant 96, 1980, pp.27-29.
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1962.
<2>OS Card Reference: MHLG (1953/11/A) December 1960 11.
<3>OS Card Reference: F1 ASP 05-FEB-65.
<4>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 92 1976 240-1.
<5>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 93 1977 216 (TT Brown).
<6>OS Card Reference: Britannia 9 1978 468.
<7>OS Card Reference: DOE(IAM) Rec Form 19.10.78.
<8>OS Card Reference: DOE(HHR) District of City of Canterbury 1980 31 32.
<9>OS Card Reference: Post Medieval Architecture 12 1978 109 (J Cherry).
<10>OS Card Reference: CBA Arch in Britain 1977 55-56.
<11>OS Card Reference: AP CUCAP B2R 87-8 12.07.76.
<12>Photograph: GATEHOUSE AT OLD PALACE, BEKESOME, FROM EAST.. OS65/F59/2. Black and White. Negative.
<13>Photograph: GATEHOUSE AT OLD PALACE, BEKESOME, FROM SOUTH.. OS65/F59/1. Black and White. Negative.
<14>Unpublished document: Canterbury Archaeological Trust. 1997. Watching Brief at Archbishop's Palce Site of, Bekesbourne.
<15>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Register of Scheduled Monuments.