Ancient Monuments

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St Thomas a Becket's Well

A Scheduled Monument in Otford, Kent

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Latitude: 51.3113 / 51°18'40"N

Longitude: 0.1958 / 0°11'44"E

OS Eastings: 553134.405241

OS Northings: 159203.888543

OS Grid: TQ531592

Mapcode National: GBR TY.613

Mapcode Global: VHHPL.B9VK

Entry Name: St Thomas a Becket's Well

Scheduled Date: 20 June 1952

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005152

English Heritage Legacy ID: KE 137

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Otford

Built-Up Area: Otford

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Otford St Bartholomew

Church of England Diocese: Rochester


Medieval reservoir to Otford Palace called St Thomas a Becket’s Well, 173m SSE of Moat Bungalow.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 December 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a medieval reservoir to Otford Palace surviving as upstanding and below-ground remains. It is situated on a gentle west facing slope, north of Well Road in Otford.

The reservoir is built of stone rubble walls and is a sunken structure with a sluice wall at the west end, served by a spring. The reservoir is broadly rectangular in shape and orientated ENE to WSW. It is approximately 10m long and about 3.5m wide at the east end but widens to about 5m at the west. The reservoir is traditionally associated with St Thomas a Becket and served as part of the water supply to Otford Palace, the medieval palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Partial excavation in 1951-4, indicated that the earliest surviving masonry was late medieval and that the reservoir had undergone several repairs and renovations throughout its history.

Otford Palace is a separate but abutting scheduling to the west.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The provision of clean water has been seen as a public responsibility since early times. The earliest water-supply systems in Britain were built during the Roman period. Aqueducts supplied civil and military centres from wells, springs and impounded sources. Medieval water systems were constructed for monasteries as early as the twelfth century, and similar conduit systems were built for some medieval towns. Early supplies depended on gravitational flow from a spring to a conduit head. Conduits were pipes or channels used to convey and transport the water. Some conduits, such as that at Exeter in the 14th and 15th centuries, were laid underground, whilst others, such as Wells, ran in the street.

Despite some later alterations or repair work, the medieval reservoir to Otford Palace called St Thomas a Becket’s Well survives well. It is a significant surviving element of the medieval water supply to Otford Palace and has group value with the Archbishops Palace. The medieval reservoir will contain archaeological information relating to its construction, use and history.

Source: Historic England


Kent HER TQ 55 NW 17. NMR TQ 55 NW 17. PastScape 409634.

Source: Historic England

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