In the Beginning – The Addington Palace we know was built in the 1770s as Addington Place, replacing the earlier manor house of the same name, home of the Leigh family.
When Sir John Leigh died in 1737 a 40-year legal battle ensued until the estate was eventually granted to his cousin, Anne Spencer, who sold it to Barlow Trecothick, Alderman of the City of London and Lord Mayor in 1770-1771.
Trecothick engaged Robert Mylne as architect. The building, a Palladian-style mansion of two main storeys plus mansard roof and a basement, was completed in 1778.
To the north and south were single-storey wings with pavilions, each with a basement beneath. The Early Tenants – In 1807 an Act of Parliament purchased the mansion and estate for the use of the Archbishops of Canterbury.
Part of the finance came from the sale of the old Palace, it being “in so low and unwholesome a situation”. Six archbishops lived in Addington Palace, five of them being buried in St Mary’s churchyard.
Archbishop Howley (1828 – 1848) increased the height of the wings bringing them level with the main building and extended them forward at ground level to create a chapel and a library. These changes made the house “comfortable rather than elegant”.
Development – Archbishop Benson was succeeded by Frederick Temple, who ended the long association with the Palace in 1898 by selling it and the grounds to Frederick Alexander English, a South African diamond merchant.
English engaged Richard Norman Shaw to restructure the house. Shaw attempted to return to the earlier building outline by raising the front of the main Trecothick house by one storey, making the house much heavier.
To create his magnificent Salon, Shaw had to enlarge the whole front portion of the main building in both length and depth to maintain proportion. An illusion of even greater height came from abandoning the mansard roof and raising the wall to enclose the third storey.
Free guided tours of the Palace are available, see Forthcoming Events for dates.