Guest post by: Patricia Deegan (February 1st 2017)
This is currently the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the senior bishop of the Church of England and leader of the Anglican church. The archbishop of Canterbury has lived on this site since the thirteenth century due to it’s proximity to the palace of Westminster (which itself had been started in the eleventh century) and the access to the river Thames. Though there was no bridge from Lambeth to Westminster on the north bank so people and goods had to go by ferry.
However, in the way of all such great houses, Lambeth Palace has had buildings added and changed around in the various centuries of it’s existence. The gateway, Morton’s Tower, is Tudor as it was built in 1490 by Cardinal Morton. Sir Thomas More joined the staff of Lambeth palace when he was 12 to gain an education in the workings of the household. It is thought More probably stayed in Morton’s Tower for a time.
The chamber, now known as the guard room. used to be the archbishop’s principle audience chamber and it is thought that Sir Thomas More was summoned to this room in 1534 to swear the Oath of Supremacy by Thomas Cromwell.
Elizabeth I’s first archbishop, Matthew Parker, is the only archbishop buried in Lambeth palace. Thomas Cranmer is thought to have compiled the first Common Book of Prayer in a small room that has a balcony overlooking the internal chapel. Cardinal Pole lay in state in Lambeth palace for 40 days after his death in 1558.
It appears from their website that guided tours around it are permitted but it’s primary purpose continues to be as the residence of the Archbishop. It also holds church records and the Community of Saint Anselm, an Anglican religious order that is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The palace shows what a great personage the archbishop of Canterbury used to be as the palace has both a state dining room and a state drawing room. I was pleased to see though that charitable giving also went on historically as “the Lambeth dole”, which comprised bread, broth and money, was given out from Morton’s Tower from the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries.
Two places in the palace have iron rings for prisoners: there is a small cell in Morton’s Tower that was used for imprisonment in the 16th century and there are also iron rings in the Lollard’s Tower. Though I’m not sure why or how they were used in the residence of a churchman.
Although there appears to be a church right next to the palace, less than 100 yards away, it used to be a parish church as there is a chapel within the palace for the archbishop and palace staff. The next door parish church is now a garden museum due to historical links with gardener and plantsman John Tradescant.
The photographs were taken by the author