Home to the Archbishops of Canterbury for 800 years, the buildings of Lambeth Palace are richly resonant with a history of residents, staff and visitors. Over the centuries, the Palace and its occupants have marked momentous events as well as celebrated the routines of daily life, worship, ministry and hospitality. Enacted down the centuries, these activities emphasise the temporal nature of human existence and how the imprint of life is expressed through places and buildings.
The masterplan for the Palace will augment and extend this remarkable continuum through a carefully considered programme of repair and remodelling. It will strengthen and affirm links within the Lambeth Palace community and reframe its relationship with the wider public realm, enabling it to play an even more distinctive role in national religious and cultural life, as part of the Church of England’s long term mission.
The project embraces the Church Commissioners’ commitment for all parts of the Church to work to become carbon net-zero by 2030. Working closely with Arup, the Lambeth Palace Masterplan is structured around a ‘fabric-first’ approach, in which upgrading the historic building fabric is prioritised, reducing the energy required to heat and cool internal spaces.
Reducing the cause of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love thy neighbour and to steward the gift of creation.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury
The creation of a new Energy Centre will enable a move away from current reliance on fossil fuels. Ultimately, the entire Palace will be served by this Energy Centre, augmented by on-site renewables. Increased public access is a further long-term ambition, with works planned to the Great Hall, Guard Room, Chapel and Crypt Chapel to improve access to the Palace’s historic core.
I. Major renewal of infrastructure and services.
II. Reduce carbon emissions, energy use and improve sustainability on-site.
III. Improve the public realm and site accessibility.
IV. Enhance privacy and security.
Archaeology On Site
Site surveys and excavations revealed extensive archaeology on site dating to the 12th century. Leanna Boxill, project lead and Senior Associate at Wright & Wright is a Conservation Architect and specialised in integrating new elements into historically sensitive sites rich in cultural heritage. Her expertise proved critical in identifying, documenting, and preserving discoveries on site.
A Living Legacy
As the historic home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Head of the Church of England, for over 800 years, Lambeth Palace has played an unparalleled role in the history of religious life and scholarship. The central London site, on the banks of the River Thames, is composed of an armature of historic, listed buildings from many different eras.
The current masterplan considers how to best accommodate the many functions of its buildings whilst ensuring their architectural heritage is protected. As a centre for work, study, ministry and hospitality, Lambeth Palace reflects the values of the Church Commissioners and exemplifies the strategic goals of the Church. The new, energy-efficient masterplan will ensure Lambeth Palace is both an accessible and sustainable landmark for centuries to come.
Extensive research has characterised the project at every stage - ranging from engagement with the extensive documentary archives, to live archaeology and sampling of stonework and paintwork. This research informs and supports an architectural vision which is respectful to and in close dialogue with historic precedent.
The project's case for change was set out in a Conservation Management Plan that led to a series of planning applications for large scale and small scale works. As with many of Wright & Wright's projects, entities such as Historic England the London Borough of Lambeth were consulted and collaborated with throughout its development.
The Lambeth Palace Masterplan conservation team is composed of a number of specialists in the fields of historic preservation, conservation, and built heritage. This has proven critical in ensuring the historic layers of development and changes to the site are considered and, where necessary, conservation is undertaken.
Lambeth Palace has evolved significantly over the last eight centuries. Each building can be considered a composite of many historical interventions.
For example, the chapel has existed on the site since the 13th century. In 1846, Edward Blore carried out a complete renovation of the medieval chapel in the Gothic Revival style. It suffered greatly from damage by fire and water during World War II. It was restored by Seeley and Paget in the 1950s. It has been further restored and enhanced since.