Formerly part of the Manor of Maidstone, the Archbishops’ Palace was mainly built by Archbishop Courtenay in the late 14th century.
The manor of Maidstone was given to the Archbishops by Rector William de Cornhill in 1207 to be used as a resting-place for Archbishops travelling between London and Canterbury and is linked to Palaces at Charing, Otford and Croydon.
The buildings surrounding the Palace, the Archbishops’ Stables to the east and ‘the gatehouse’ were probably used as a mill and lodgings for the Archbishops’ staff of accountants, butlers, cooks and clerks.
The high wall at the back of the Palace shows a sloping recess with a boarded window about 12 — 15 feet above the ground. Local legend claims that this was once a dungeon and its most famous occupant was John Ball, ‘the mad priest of Kent’. His refusal to accept or conform to the established social order resulted in the Archbishop of Canterbury sentencing him to life imprisonment for sedition. He was sprung from jail in 1381 during the ‘peasants revolt’ — a protest at the poll tax introduced by Chancellor Sudbury — who was also Archbishop of Canterbury.
Maidstone Kent UK
edited in Photomatix pro