Gillingham Archbishops Palace

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are no visible remains

NameGillingham Archbishops Palace
Alternative NamesGrench Manor
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityMedway
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishGillingham

The manor of Gillingham belonged, both before and after the Conquest, to the Archbishops of Canterbury, and there is no doubt they had a dwelling there. Siting from plan (BM Add MS.32363 f 77 plan) agrees with O.S. Phippen (1862) describes a building in Straw Lane, long used as a barn, as seeming to have been an ecclesiastical building. The site and/or identification of the Archbishop's Palace is uncertain. Local authorities would not confirm the site. The incumbent stated that foundations had been encountered in the area immediately north of the vicarage, and also that he had conducted the investigation on a visit to the cellars, reputed to be part of the original palace. This proved unconvincing, no genuine portions of an old building were seen. The site of a Bendedictine monastery, shown on O.S. 25", must be considered erroneous. The siting symbol is in the approximate position of a large stone building once used as a barn, and considered to have been the Great Hall, or kitchen, of the palace (F1 AC 26.10.51). The position of a large stone building, noted in the 19th century and considered to have been part of a bishops palace, was no longer visible. Any archaeological remains around the church would be in a relatively stable condition, the majority of the area is under grass with occasional trees and has open access to the public. More research and field work would be necessary to identify the position of any surviving below ground features and confirm their interpretation as the remains of a bishops palace. It is not possible with the present evidence to identify the precise location and extent of any archaeological remains which may be of national importance (English Heritage Alternative Action Report MPPA: Ms L Austin. Date of Visit: 30-Jul-1992)


There are hardly any remains of the ARCHIEPISCOPAL PALACE, which stood adjoining to the south side of the church yard, at this time, excepting a large building of stone, now used as a barn; which, from its having been plaistered on the inside, and the remains of a chimney at each end, was either the great hall or kitchen of the palace; within the foundations of the old circuit walls stand the house and other buildings belonging to the court lodge of the manor. A coin of the emperor Antonius was lately dug up within these walls. (Hasted Vol. 4)

Gatehouse Comments

Quite the reason for this archiepiscopal manor being associated with a Benedictine monastery is unclear although, presumably the archbishops familia (retinue) would have had a considerable number of monks from the Benedictine abbey of Christ Church, Canterbury.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ783687
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 320-25
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 171
  • Phippen, O.S., 1862, Descriptive sketches of Rochester, Chatham, and their vicinities
  • Hasted, Edward, 1801, The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 12 p. 524-5 online transcription
  • Hasted, Edward, 1798 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 4 p. 226- online transcription


  • Kent County Council, December 2004, Kent Historic Towns Survey (Kent County Council and English Heritage) view online copy
  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)