The Archbishop's Palace, Canterbury
Authors: Rady, J.; Tatton-Brown, T.; Bowen, J. A.
Source: Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 144, Number 1, 1991 , pp. 1-60(60)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The Archbishop's Palace in Canterbury, once the most important of all the Primate's palaces, was occupied from the 1080s until its demolition in c. 1650. A new smaller palace was then constructed in part of the ruins in 1899–1901. This has been used by twentieth-century archbishops ever since, largely as a ‘weekend palace’.
With the arrival of Dr Robert Runcie as Archbishop in 1981, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust began work at the Archbishop's Palace, Canterbury where new drainage work was to be undertaken. A new survey and re-appraisal of the surviving fragments of the early thirteenth-century Great Hall, one of the largest buildings of its type in the country, was where the work started. Surprisingly, prior to this, the palace had never been studied in detail. Short accounts of the palace range from Lambarde's brief historical description in c. 1570 to Willis's summary of earlier topographical and historical studies in the later nineteenth century.
In 1982 excavations situated mainly in the east end of the Great Hall were undertaken. In addition to producing some evidence for the pre-Norman history of the site they confirmed the extent and internal arrangement of the structure, and revealed the contemporary solar undercroft beyond the east end of the Great Hall itself. This made the whole building c. 200 feet long.
A general survey of other surviving palace buildings together with the initial documentary research, was undertaken while the first excavations were in progress. Further excavation took plate in 1985–6 immediately south of the present palace buildings. This lalter excavation revealed unexpected evidence for the original palace, constructed just after the Norman Conquest.
The archive and finds from both the 1982 and 1985 excavations have been deposited with Canterbury Museums.
This report is published with the aid of a grant from English Heritage.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1991-01-01