The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Mayfield Palace  High Street    Mayfield  

Books and other documents
PublishedTitle, author and references
1810Tunbridge Wells and its Neighbourhood by Paul Amsinck and Letitia Byrnep. 26
1830Guide of Tunbridge Wells ⇒ p. 85
1832Descriptive Sketches of Tunbridge Wells and the Calverley Estate by John Britton, F.S.A. ⇒ p. 111
1840New Guide for Tunbridge Wells by John Colbran and edited by James Phippen ⇒ p. 168
1849Historical and Architectural Notices of Mayfield Palace by Henry Rosehurst Hoare, Esq ⇒ p. 221
1869Mayfield by William Durrant Cooper, F.S.A., V.P. ⇒ p. 5
1870A Compendious History of Sussex - Volume II. by Mark Antony Lower, M.A.p. 45; p. 47
1883Pelton's Illustrated Guide to Tunbridge Wells by J. Radford Thomson, M.A. ⇒ p. 181
1904Highways and Byways in Sussex by E.V. Lucas ⇒ p. 304
1909English Homes and Villages (Kent & Sussex)
also published as
Tunbridge Wells and its Neighbourhood by Lady Hope ⇒ p. 70
1927The Sussex Highlands ⇒ p. 46

Historical records

1278HistoryMayfield PalaceFoster

In Anglo Saxon times the village had been a halting place for the Archbishops [of Canterbury] on their journeys from Kent to Malling and beyond. And it is most likely that some rough hall had been built.

But it is not until 1278 (in Edward I's reign) that Mayfield Palace is first mentioned in the Archbishopric records and then under the title of the "Chief Manor House". From then for 250 years it was a favourite residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, especially in the summer months. … in 1278 Archbishop Peckham here received the homage of three of his great tenants Roger de la Warr, Richard de Waleis, lord of Bibleham, and Henry de Barham, a descendant of one of the murderers of Becket.

Archbishop Peckham, a Sussex man, was an original character. He boasted of being a man of the people and originally a wandering Franciscan friar but nonetheless travelled with the greatest pomp with 100 mounted men besides hawks, hounds, monks, friars and servants. He, at times, especially at the great festivals, would again put on his friar's robes and lead his grand and often ridiculous retinue through the towns and countryside.
He was a great builder and it is probable that the oldest parts of the Palace date from this time.

from Chapter Three - Mayfield a History by Major R. C. G. Foster, M.C.


1773South Front of Mayfield PalaceSouth Front of Mayfield Palace, watercolour (26.6 x 37.9 cm) painted by Samuel Hieronymus GrimmSamuel Hieronymus Grimm, topographical artist© British Library Board - Shelfmark: Additional MS 5671, Item number: f. 31 (no. 52)

1773Side of Mayfield PalaceSide of Mayfield Palace, watercolour (26.8 x 37.5 cm) painted by Samuel Hieronymus GrimmSamuel Hieronymus Grimm, topographical artist© British Library Board - Shelfmark: Additional MS 5671, Item number: f. 25 (no. 42)

c 1780The Banqueting Hall, Mayfield PalaceThe Banqueting Hall, Mayfield Palace, MayfieldBell-Irving

1781Mayfield AbbeyMayfield Abbey, MayfieldBell-Irving

1783North and North East View of Mayfield Hall and PalaceNorth and North East View of Mayfield Hall and Palace, watercolour (18.4 x 26.2 cm) painted by Samuel Hieronymus GrimmSamuel Hieronymus Grimm, topographical artist© British Library Board - Shelfmark: Additional MS 5671, Item number: f. 36 (no. 61)

1783Great Hall of Mayfield PalaceGreat Hall of Mayfield Palace, watercolour (26.7 x 37.2 cm) painted by Samuel Hieronymus GrimmSamuel Hieronymus Grimm, topographical artist© British Library Board - Shelfmark: Additional MS 5671, Item number: f. 32 (no. 53)

1783West End of the Hall of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Palace at MayfieldWest End of the Hall of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Palace at Mayfield, watercolour (18.3 x 27 cm) painted by Samuel Hieronymus GrimmSamuel Hieronymus Grimm, topographical artist© British Library Board - Shelfmark: Additional MS 5671, Item number: f. 35 (no. 58)

26th Dec 1783St Dunstan's PalaceSt Dunstan's Palace, Mayfield by S. HooperLinda Staunton's engravings

1797Ruins of the Palace at MayfieldRuins of the Palace at MayfieldThe Tunbridge Wells Guide

1809Mayfield PlaceMayfield Place, Mayfield by Paul Amsinck & engraved by Letitia ByrneLetitia ByrneAmsinck's Tunbridge Wells

1840Mayfield PalaceMayfield Palace by C. T. DoddColbran's Tunbridge Wells

1864Mayfield PalaceMayfield Palace, Mayfield photographed by Edward Fox, BrightonPrivate collection

1867Directory entryMayfield PalacePost Office Directory
The town was long remarkable as having been the site of a palace of the archbishops of Canterbury, erected, together with the original church, by St. Dunstan, in the tenth century. Provincial synods were held here in 1332 and 1362; and Archbishops Meopham, Stratford, and Islip died here. Queen Elizabeth visited Sir Thomas Gresham here; and Thomas May, the historian of the Long Parliament, was born in the palace in 1595. The palace and manor were surrendered by Archbishop Cranmer to Henry VIII in 1545, who granted the estate to Sir Henry North : it subsequently became the property of Sir Thomas Gresham, afterwards of the Baker family, and, by marriage, of the Kirby family, and was in 1858 purchased by Francis Cordrey, Esq., who in 1863, sold it to the Duchess of Leeds, by whom it has been in some measure rebuilt, and converted into a convent, the magnificent banqueting-hall, 70 feet long and 39 feet wide, being used as a chapel.

1874Directory entryMayfield PalacePost Office Directory
The town is remarkable as having been the site of a palace of the archbishops of Canterbury, erected, together with the original church, by St. Dunstan, in the tenth century. Provincial synods were held here in 1332 and 1362; and Archbishops Meopham, Stratford, and Islip died here. Queen Elizabeth visited Sir Thomas Gresham here; and Thomas May, the historian of the Long Parliament, was born in the palace in 1595. The palace and manor were surrendered by Archbishop Cranmer, in 1545, to Henry VIII, who granted the estate to Sir Henry North; it subsequently became the property of Sir Thomas Gresham, afterwards of the Baker family, and, by marriage, of the Kirby family, and was in 1858 purchased by Francis Cordrey, esq., who, in 1863, sold it to the Duchess of Leeds, by whom the palace has been in some measure rebuilt, and converted into a convent, the magnificent banqueting-hall, 70 feet long and 30 feet wide, being used as a chapel.

c 1875Mayfield, Sussex - c 1875Part of the 6 inch to 1 mile map of Sussex produced in 1875 by Ordnance SurveyMayfield Palace

1882Directory entryMayfield PalaceKelly's Directory
The town is remarkable as having been the site of a palace of the archbishops of Canterbury, erected, it is said, together with the original church, by St. Dunstan, in the tenth century. Provincial synods were held here in 1332 and 1362; and Archbishops Meopham (1328-33), Stratford (1333-49) and Islip (1349-66), died here: and Thomas May, the historian of the Long Parliament, was born in the palace in 1595. The palace and manor were surrendered by Archbishop Cranmer, in 1545, to Henry VIII. who granted the estate to Sir Edward North : it subsequently became the property of Sir Thomas Gresham and during his tenure was visited by Queen Elizabeth ; afterwards it was held by the Baker family, and by marriage by that of Kirby and was in 1858 purchased by Francis Cordrey esq. who, in 1863, sold it to the Duchess of Leeds, by whom it was transferred to a Catholic community and converted into a convent, the magnificent banqueting ball, 70 feet long and 39 feet wide, being used as a chapel, in which a costly altar has been placed at an expense of £600.

1890HistoryPalaceFirmin's Guide

Mayfield is about five miles from Crowborough and two from Rotherfield. The way to it is by the Station Road and through Rotherfield. There are two buildings in the village of historical interest: the archiepiscopal palace and the church.

The building of the Palace is attributed to S. Dunstan, but there is little or no foundation for the assertion. It was a favourite resort, pre-viously to the Reformation, of the archbishops, three of whom died there. Provincial Councils were also held in it.

It remained in the possession of the Church till the reign of Henry VIII., when, like many another valuable property of the Church, it fell into the hands of that voracious potentate, being surrendered to him by Archbishop Cranmer. In 1545 the King granted it to Sir Henry North, and he sold it to Sir John Gresham, through whom it descended to Sir Thomas Gresham (the founder of the Royal Exchange), who right royally entertained Queen Elizabeth within its walls.

Subsequently it was allowed to fall into decay, and the stones were removed from it and used in the construction of houses in the village. For some time it was occupied as a farmhouse, and then purchased by the Duchess of Leeds, who presented it to an order of Roman Catholic nuns. It has been rebuilt as a convent and school at considerable cost.


1910South East end of ConventSouth East end of Convent, MayfieldPrivate collection

1913The Old PalaceThe Old Palace, MayfieldPrivate collection

1938The Old Palace & ConventThe Old Palace & Convent, MayfieldPrivate collection

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