Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UK England - The Archbishop's Palace, Maidstone

UNITED KINGDOM - England, Kent

The Archbishop's Palace is an historic 14th century building on the banks of the River Medway in Maidstone, Kent. Traditionally a home from home for travelling Archbishops from Canterbury, the building is today principally used as a venue for wedding services. The former stable block for the palace (today severed from the palace by the A229), now serves as the Tyrwhitt-Drake Carriage Museum.

The area of Maidstone was probably given to the Archbishops of Canterbury as a royal gift during the seventh or eighth centuries.

The Manor of Maidstone was given to the Archbishop by Rector William de Cornhill in 1207 to be used as a resting-place for Archbishops travelling between London and Canterbury and is linked to Palaces at Charing, Otford and Croydon. Some of this original building may survive as ruins close to the present palace, but most of Cornhill's house was demolished and rebuilt, largely by Archbishop Courtenay in the 1390s, who was also responsible for the construction of neighbouring All Saints' Church. The buildings surrounding the Palace, the Archbishops' Stables to the east and 'the gatehouse' were used as a mill and lodgings for the Archbishops' staff of accountants, butlers, cooks and clerks.

The high wall at the back of the Palace shows a sloping recess with a boarded window about 12 - 15 feet above the ground. Local legend claims that this was once a dungeon and its most famous occupant was John Ball, 'the mad priest of Kent'. His refusal to accept or conform to the established social order resulted in the Archbishop of Canterbury sentencing him to life imprisonment for sedition. He was sprung from the jail in 1381 during the Peasants' Revolt — a protest at the poll tax introduced by Chancellor Sudbury — who was also Archbishop of Canterbury.

At the time of the English Reformation in the sixteenth century, with Henry VIII dismantling the Catholic Church establishment, the Palace was taken by the Crown and eventually sold to John Astley, Master of the Jewel Office. He refronted the building, giving the palace its present appearance.


Postcard sent by Margaret as "renheek" - Postcrossing - Reference GB-116711

The Archbishop's Palace, Maidston
The card shows one of the old buildings in Maidstone, the county town of Kent.
It is the Archbishop's Palace and has a fine view over the River Medway.

Thank you

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