Wrotham Palace

Wrotham Palace* was one of the manors that belonged to the archbishops of Canterbury. These manors were situated within a days journey from one another along the “Archbishops Trail” from Canterbury to Lambeth, and they were sufficiently spacious to house the extensive retinue of clergymen and servants, who would accompany the archbishop on such occasions.

Built at some time before the Norman Conquest, the exact date of the construction of Wrotham Palace is unknown, but its existence is well documented in the Domesday book (c.~1080), and other sources indicate that the palace was granted to the archibishop of Canterbury by King Ethelstan as early as 964 AD.

For over three centuries it was used as a residence by the archbishops, but its usage declined in the fourteenth century, until it was finally demolished by Simon Islip some years after his appointment as archbishop in 1349. Preferring the manor at nearby Otford, Islip decided that he had no need for Wrotham Palace and he soon began to dismantle it in order to use the materials for the completion of another manor at Maidstone.

Following the destruction of Wrotham Palace, the land and its ruins stayed in the direct ownership of the archbishop until they were returned to the crown by archbishop Thomas Cranmer several hundred years later, following which a new building was raised on the site.

Nowadays, there is very little to be seen. Some of the original walls still stand, and the Bull Hotel originally was part of the stable complex, but almost all the remaining foundations and stone work were used in the construction of the “new” building in the 16th century.

Wrotham Place
Wrotham Place in Winter

* Wrotham Palace should not to be confused with Wrotham Place, a Jacobean manor house (built c. 1590 AD) on the opposite side of the street that now houses a private bank.