Maidstone was almost certainly one of the estates given to the archbishops by one of the early kings in the seventh century. The surviving buildings surrounding the Palace, the archbishops' stables to the east and the gatehouse (now the Tourist Information Centre) were probably used as a mill and lodgings for the archbishops' staff of accountants, butlers, cooks and clerks.
A lot of rural residences were destroyed in the post-medieval period but some substantial ruins do still remain.
At Maidstone, parts of the medieval houses are still incorporated into later buildings and there is a fine, almost symmetrical north-east front of the late 16th century that was built by Sir John Astley after he bought the house in 1580. Behind this, however, is the 14th century Great Hall and the private chambers for the archbishop that were built in Archbishop Islip's and Archbishop Courtney's time. To the south are the remains of an earlier vaulted undercroft, which, at it's east end (very close to the parish church) incorporates fragments of two late 11th century walls of the archbishop's early Norman house there.
Towards the end of his life (from 1395), Courtney completely rebuilt the parish church at Maidstone and started to erect a fine new college of priests to the south of it. Archbishop Courtney's dying wish was to be buried at Maidstone but his body was taken to Canterbury Cathedral and interred next to the Black Prince, in the Trinity Chapel, on the orders of Richard II. Courtney's College at Maidstone was, however, completed by 1405. Maidstone Manor was lost to Henry VIII in 1537.
|Back to Archbishops' Trail||Back to Homepage||Getting to Maidstone|