The Rectory House
The official listing record:
House Grade II*
Hall House, now House, Early C14, Altered 1679 and Rebuilt 1870 Arch. Cant. Vol 11. Collectiana Historica: Essays in memory Stuart Rigold. 187, K. Gravett, The Rectory House at Cliffe.
In the 13th and 14th centuries Cliffe at Hoo Ecclesiastical parish was a wealthy one consisting of the living of the rector of the Parish Peculiar being part of the Estate of the Archbishopric of Canterbury, the manors and estates of Christchurch Priory Canterbury and other secular held manors and estates. In recognition of this great wealth construction of a stone built hall for the incumbent Rector was started in the early 14th Century. The exact date is not known but circa 1310 would not seem too unreasonable given subsequent recorded works to the Hall. The ground floor plan below shows the remaining medieval parts of the stone hall which from West to East comprise the great hall leading into the parlour which are parts of the original structure. It is thought the L-shaped room to the East although still in the medieval period is of a later date and could be part of the work undertaken by Rector Lawrence Fastolf.
The west wall of the great hall contains a set of double arched doors together with a narrow further arched door toward southern end of this wall. It is believed that these doors would have led to a possible Service Wing which contained the kitchen the ground floor and the narrow door led to some steps allowing access to the first floor of this wing. In addition to this it is known that in the medieval period there was also a fodder house and well house together with a fish pond. There was also a Vicarage within the complex which was one of two in the living (the other being around the vicinity of St Helen's Church).
Lawrence Fastolf in 1348 had built an Oratory Chapel which was consecrated in 1349. He may well be responsible for the L-shaped extension from the Parlour and this was a two storey structure open to the roof.1679 the Hall had badly deteriorated :
Sancroft issued a commission of inquiry as to the condition of the old kitchen, the old well-house, the fodder-house, and the vicarage-house. The vicars of Higham and Hartlip, with the rector of High Halstow, and Isaac Blake, Esquire, of Strood, came over to view the premises, in May 1679. They recommended that the vicarage -house, being useless, should be demolished ; that the old kitchen and well-house should be taken down, and that the materials of the demolished buildings should be utilized for the repair of the fodder-house, and other portions of the rectory. They suggested that, by inserting a floor and ceiling in the lofty hall of the rectory-house, that ancient apartment should be divided into two stories of rooms, two above and two below the new ceiling and floor.
Stradling who was Rector at this time had this work carried out. On the south facing elevation a 'cellar' was added at the East end of the Great Hall butting onto the Parlour West facing wall. This extension is in brickwork of Flemish Bond which was first introduced to England in 1631 and would have still been common in 1679.
The final large scale building work took place in 1870 under the charge of the Reverend H R Lloyd who was Rector at that time. He was responsible for the Victorian additions and the re-roofing of the hall. The major additions being a two storey extension to the North facing elevation stretching from the East end of the Great hall covering the whole North Elevation of the Parlour and part of the L-shaped room. In addition a large two story extension was added to butt up against the West elevation of the great Hall allowing the service doors in this wall to be reopened. During the excavations of the footings for this part of the extension they cut through a stone surfaced stable yard into the foundations of the old Service Wing of the Hall.
Rectory remained the property of he church until 1970 when it was divided between the Victorian extension to the West and the rest of the Hall to the East and subsequently sold on the property market.
Shortened version © 2012 F. Withers