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The Palace of Croydon, and Archbishops
who resided in it,
SINCE this venerable structure has long ceased to be the residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, has been used for other purposes, and has very much fallen into decay, we think we can do no better than present to our readers the account given of it by the learned Dr. Ducarel, as it was in his time.
“ Before I enter into any account of the palace of Croydon, it will not, I hope, be thought improper to consider in what manner the former Archbishops were employed, and to say something of their place of residence in general.
“It appears from the register at Lambeth that before the reformation these prelates had a great deal of business upon their hands; for besides their metropolitical visitations, ordinations, institutions, and collations, they likewise granted probates of wills, administrations, marriage-licenses, commissions and dispensations of divers kinds, and performed many acts of the like sort, which, since the reforma. tion, have either totally ceased, or been transferred to the Vicars general and other officers.
“ This business therefore, being inseparable from the person of the Archbishops, necessarily followed them wherever they went, and upon a visitation or a journey we find the registers filled with acts of this nature, nor was going out of the kingdom any excuse to them in this respect, there being in Archbishop Chichele's register some acts dated in 1418, from Rouen and Evreux, in Normandy, and even from Manto, in the diocese of Chartres, in France. All the old registers, namely, those from Archbishop Peckham's to Archbishop Parker's time are very exact in the dates when, as well as the places where, the several Archbishops performed such acts : but the names of such places do not appear after Archbishop Parker's time in ordinary acts, but only in commissions, and acts of more than ordinary consequence, though the dates are carefully preserved, and these latter registers kept in very good order.
“ The Archbishops bad Manor-houses belonging to their See, from whence the above mentioned Acts are dated. Canterbury, indeed, is called their palace in very old Acts, but the rest are called their manors only; the chief of them were, in Surrey, Croydon, Lambeth, Mortlake, Sheen: in Kent*, Aldyngton, Cherrynge, Cranbroke, Knoll, Lyminge, Mallynge, Maydenston, Otteford, Settlewode, Tenham, Wengham, Wrotham : in Sussex, Maghefeld, Slyndon.
Archbishop Cranmer exchanged several of these manors with King Henry VIII, for other lands; amongst others Settlewode, Lyming, Croydon Park, Slyndon, Otteford, Maydeston, Knoll, &c.
“A knowledge of the residence of the Archbishops is only to be obtained by carefully examining the names of the places from whence their Acts are dated—Having found but little in the Registers relating to the palace of Croydon, recourse was had to the rolls of accounts preserved in the manuscript library at Lambeth; amongst these, though very numerous, no more than four could be found relating to Croydon, though of almost every other manor. house, two of them torn where the date should be, and therefore of no use; the other two have only furnished this account with some few repairs about the year 1400.
An account of most of the Archbishops houses in Kent, is to be seen in Hasted's History of that County.
« How to account for this is difficult; but I am apt to think such accounts and every thing relating to Croydon, were wilfully destroyed in the time of the grand rebellion, when this house fell to Sir William Brereton, from this very remarkable and extraordinary clause at the end of the survey of this house and manor, taken 16th March 1646, viz. • That all charters, deeds, evidences, or writings, any ways touching or concerning the same, are to be excepted.'
“ Under these disadvantages, it is no wonder if the following account appears so imperfect, and no ways adequate to the pains that have been taken about it.
“ Very little is mentioned by any of our historians concerning this town or palace. The great Camden only says, that Croydon is particularly famous for a palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury, whose it hath been now a long time ;' and a little further, they tell you that a royal palace stood formerly on the West part of the town near Haling, where the rubbish of buildings is now and then dug up by the husbandmen, and that the Archbishops, after it was bestowed on them by the King, added it to their own palace nigher to the river. This indeed he quotes as a tradition ; and it can be no other, for I believe no historian has ever told us that the Saxon Kings had any paJace near this town.
“ It is certain from Domesday Book, that this manor had belonged to the See of Canterbury ever since the time of Archbishop Lanfranc; but when a manor house was built here, is no where at this time to be discovered, no records have as yet been found to give us any assistance or knowledge in this matter; and the Register preserved at Lambeth goes no higher than Archbishop Peckham, who came to the See of Canterbury, A. D. 1278, which occasions an hiatus from Archbishop Lanfranc of above two hundred years. However that a manor house was built here in that interim, and that Archbishop Kilwardby (Peckham's immediate predecessor) was once there, appears by a mandate dated from Croydon, 4th of September A. D. 1273.
6 I shall now mention the names of such Archbishops as appear from the Registers and history to have resided in this house, and therefore begin by
(1278) Archbishop Peckham who during the sixteen years that he held the See, appears principally to have resided at Croydon, South