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The Old Palace

A Grade II* Listed Building in Brenchley, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1508 / 51°9'2"N

Longitude: 0.3995 / 0°23'58"E

OS Eastings: 567912

OS Northings: 141800

OS Grid: TQ679418

Mapcode National: GBR NR2.ZR8

Mapcode Global: VHJMX.WB1M

Plus Code: 9F32592X+8Q

Entry Name: The Old Palace

Listing Date: 20 October 1954

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1263658

English Heritage Legacy ID: 431803

Location: Brenchley, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN12

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Brenchley

Built-Up Area: Brenchley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Brenchley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 23 September 2021 to reformat text to current standards

TQ 67 41

HIGH STREET (north side)
The Old Palace



House, divided into council houses. Circa mid C15 origins, C17 additions, restoration of circa 1880 (Oswald). In 1958 the building was purchased by the local council, repaired, altered and divided up for housing. Framed construction, most of the external timber C19 or C20 replacement; peg-tile roof; brick stacks.

Plan: The building fronts the road and faces west south west, say west, the frontage angled to follow the curve in the road. It is a massively long range with four rear wings. The south end originated as an exceptionally large, high quality Wealden type house with a two-bay open hall in the centre the cross passage probably within the hall, at the north end and jettied storeyed ends. The hall may have been heated by a rear lateral stack - there is little evidence of blackening on the roof timbers and a lateral stack appears in old photographs of the rear elevation, but the evidence is not certain and the roof timbers may have been cleaned during the C19 or C20 restoration programmes.

The function and date of the north end of the range, which has a drangway to the left (north) is less clear. No original fireplaces survive and the 1958 repartitioning has disguised the original internal arrangement. Two adjacent rear wings have early C17 windows and could be of this date; the main block may be contemporary with the Wealden. The plan form deserves closer study than was possible on resurvey (1989) as an example of a large early complex in a village context.

Exterior: two storeys and attic. Long, irregular ten-window front (eleven windows to the first floor). Two gables to the front, to left of centre, are C19 additions (not shown in a pre 1880 photograph). Close-studded framing to the first floor, the ground floor underbuilt in C20 brick. The first floor is jettied throughout except for the two bays of the centre of the Wealden house, to the right. Six 1958 plank and cover strip front doors with arched heads to the individual houses, C20 glazed door to the Post Office which is to right of centre. All the windows are C19 or C20 casements with diamond leaded panes, the ground floor windows transomed, some set in C20 bays. Some of the window frames may be original.

Below the gable to the right of the drangway a twelve-light ribbon window with a similar four-light window immediately below it: this is probably C19. Two gabled dormers. The rear elevation has four rear wings, one at the south end, two adjacent to one another to the right of the drangway and a fourth, in use as the parish room, immediately alongside the drangway to the right. The two adjacent wings have moulded fascias below the gables which have moulded bargeboards with C17 pendants at the gable. The gable ends have ovolo-moulded mullioned windows of an early C17 character.

Interior: The most spectacular survival on the ground floor is a fine moulded screen, visible in the Post Office although partly obscured by shelving. This is said to have been re-sited in 1958, when it was returned to what was thought to be its original position at the lower end of the hall. The screen includes a Tudor arched doorway (now blocked), with a richly-moulded frame, giving access to No 4, the former lower end room of the Wealden. The screen is plastered over on the north side. A matching moulded Tudor arched doorframe on the rear wall of the Post Office may have been the rear doorway of the cross passage. Nos 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 all retain massive axial beams, interrupted by new partitions and inserted chimneystacks.

The hall truss of the Wealden house, sited on the first floor of the Post Office (No 3) has massive arched braces with hollow chamfers and a large roll-moulding on the soffit of the arch. The tie beam supports a full octagonal crown post with a moulded base and capital (in No 2) with four-way up-braces. The attic space of No 2 also includes the two plain crown posts at either end of the open hall. These have two-way up-braces, one of the braces has been removed and another is broken. The roof timbers are fully intact over the hall. No 5, which lies north of the Wealden house also has what appears to be a plain crown post in the crosswall with No 4. The Parish room, the most northerly rear wing, has a three-bay tie beam clasped purlin and queen strut roof construction with narrow bays at either end and windbraces.

In spite of the alterations this is an outstanding building. The alterations appear to have obscured, rather than destroyed the evidence of the original plan form in the north end of the range.

Source Oswald, A., 'Brenchley, Kent 1', Country Life, May 31. 1946.

Listing NGR: TQ6793341795

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