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ST LEONARDS TOWER

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St Leonard's Tower: the remains are thought to be the keep of a castle built between 1077 and 1108 by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, who founded St Mary's Abbey to the north-east. Alternatively it may have been built by Bishop Odo of Bayeux (half-brother to William the Conqueror, and possible commissioner of the Bayeux Tapestry). The name derives from the chapel dedicated to St Leonard which once stood nearby. Little is known of the castle, and it has no evidence for latrines or fireplaces suggesting its primary function was defensive rather than domestic. It could also have served as an administration centre of the local estates of the bishopric.

It survives as a ruin and associated earthworks, and comprises a tall, square keep constructed of course Kentish ragstone rubble in which some herringbone work is visible, with tufa ashlar dressings. The keep survives to a height of 20 metres. It originally contained a basement and two floors, with a spiral staircase in the north-west turret. The roof of the tower was removed and the windows blocked, possibly when the building was altered for use as storage for hops. Associated with the keep are two low stretches of medieval walling incorporated within a later post-medieval garden boundary wall. The tower is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.