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The College of All Saints

A Scheduled Monument in High Street, Kent

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Latitude: 51.2697 / 51°16'10"N

Longitude: 0.5219 / 0°31'18"E

OS Eastings: 576019.500564

OS Northings: 155304.006416

OS Grid: TQ760553

Mapcode National: GBR PR7.6RT

Mapcode Global: VHJMF.0B7Z

Entry Name: The College of All Saints

Scheduled Date: 1 September 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011029

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24348

County: Kent

Electoral Ward/Division: High Street

Built-Up Area: Maidstone

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The site includes the upstanding and buried remains of the College of
All Saints, Maidstone. The standing structures date mainly from the late
14th century, with some evidence for 16th and 18th century alterations. The
monument lies on the eastern bank of the River Medway, to the south of the
parish and collegiate church, which is also dedicated to All Saints, and the
medieval archbishop's palace. The standing structures include the college gate
tower and associated western range, a return wing running from the west end of
this refectory range which joins a two-storeyed building known as the Master's
House. To the south east of these buildings is a free-standing structure known
as the Master's Tower, while at the south of the complex of medieval buildings
is the ruined gateway. Of the standing buildings, only the ruined gateway is
included in the scheduling.

On 25th June 1395, Archbishop William Courtenay received authorisation from
Pope Boniface IX to make the parish church of Maidstone into a college of a
master and 24 chaplains and clerks. On the 2nd August of that year, licence
was granted by Richard II for the incorporation of the Hospital of St Peter,
St Paul and St Thomas of Canterbury and all its possessions into the new
college. The church was pulled down and rebuilt, while the college buildings
were erected to the south of it. The construction of the college buildings was
completed by Archbishop Arundel after Courtenay's death, and by the close of
1397, the work was probably finished. Patronage of the college and church
continued to be part of the possessions of the Archbishops of Canterbury until
Cranmer exchanged them with Henry VIII.

In the Valor of 1535 the income of the college was given as one hundred and
fifty nine pounds seven shillings and ten pence, while by around 1545 this had
increased to over two hundred and eight pounds. The college was dissolved by
the act of Parliament passed for the suppression of all colleges, free chapels
and chantries, anno 1 Edward VI (1546). Upon its suppression, the college was
granted to George Brooke, Lord Cobham in fee on 10th May 1549. Nothing more is
known of the fate of the college buildings. Some of them have survived, others
associated with the complex are shown on maps of the late 18th and early 19th
centuries, but are no longer visible as upstanding remains. They were probably
outbuildings connected with the college which fell into disrepair or disuse
and were replaced or demolished. A map of 1821 shows two ponds associated with
the college, one to the south of the Master's Tower, and another directly to
the south east of the southern gateway; both had been filled in by 1848 and
are not included in the scheduling. The first edition OS map of Maidstone,
made in the mid-late 19th century shows `College Farm' on the south of the
site, incorporating the buildings of the southern gateway, while the college
gateway, Master's House and tower all survived much as they stand today. All
the buildings associated with the farm have now disappeared, and have been
replaced by the 19th century Cutbush Almshouses, and some 20th century houses.

The college gatehouse complex is Listed Grade I, the Master's House Grade II*
and the Master's Tower and ruined gateway are both Listed Grade II.

The college gatehouse complex, the Masters' House, the Masters Tower, all
modern houses and walls, the surfaces of modern roads, paths and car parks,
and all modern fittings such as gate posts, walls, lamp posts, benches and
bins are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these
features is included. The ruined gateway is included in the scheduling as is
the ground beneath it.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of
establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common
life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some
may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges
were founded in the 14th or 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down
under the Chantries Act of 1547.
Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters,
both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to
provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished
to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their
castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served
royal free chapels. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by
prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other
income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became
more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common
fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and
the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and
elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually
came to dominate their other activities.
From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges
existed during the early medieval and medieval period; of these, 167 were in
existence in 1509, made up of 71 prebendal or portional colleges, 64 chantry
colleges and 32 whose function was primarily academic.
In view of the importance of colleges in contributing to our understanding of
ecclesiastical history, and given the rarity of known surviving examples, all
identified colleges which retain surviving archaeological remains are
considered to be nationally important.

The construction of the college at Maidstone caused a number of important
changes to the town - primarily through the elevation of the parish church to
a collegiate church. The college itself is also closely associated with the
bishop's palace complex in the south of the town. The history of the
foundation and construction of the college is well documented, and illustrates
the close links between the college and the Archbishops of Canterbury.

The college buildings which stand today are in an exceptionally good state of
repair, except for the southern gateway which is not in use, and has been
allowed to decay. All the other structures of the college complex which
survive have remained in public and private use from the medieval period
onwards. Buried archaeological remains will also survive, providing additional
information about the structure and layout of the college, and the lives of
its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Maidstone Town, (1974), 77
Maidstone Town, (1974), 79
Maidstone Town, (1974), 78
Pevsner, N, Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1980), 404-405
Title: Map of the Town of Maidstone in the County of Kent
Source Date: 1821

Title: Ordnance Surveyor's Drawings - Maidstone (BM #117)
Source Date: 1799

Source: Historic England

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