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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
Entry Name: The Old Palace
Listing Date: 20 October 1954
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1263658
English Heritage Legacy ID: 431803
Location: Brenchley, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN12
District: Tunbridge Wells
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
TQ 67 41 BRENCHLEY HIGH STREET, BRENCHLEY
15/93 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 4 rear wings. The south end originated as an exceptionally large, high
quality Wealden type house with a 2-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.
2 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: 2 storeys and attic. Long, irregular 10-window front (11 windows
to the first floor). 2 gables to the front, to left of centre, are C19
additions (not shown in a pre 1880 photograph). Close-studded frmaing to the
first floor, the ground floor underbuilt in C20 brick. The first floor is
jettied throughout except for the 2 bays of the centre of the Wealden house,
to the right. 6 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 12-
light ribbon window with a similar 4-light window immediatley below it: this
is probably C19. 2 gabled dormers. The rear elevation has 4 rear wings, one
at the south end, 2 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 2 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 passge. 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 4-way up-braces. The attic space of
No 2 also includes the 2 plain crown posts at either end of the open hall.
These have 2-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
3-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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