Bishops Waltham Palace

Bishop's Waltham Palace
Bishop's Waltham, Southampton, Hampshire
tel 01489 892460

The last Bishop of Winchester to reside at Bishop's Waltham left in a dung cart disguised as a farm labourer! He was escaping from Oliver Cromwell's troops after unsuccessfully defending his palace, which was torn down and never rebuilt. Bishop's Waltham was at the peak of its importance during the medieval period when it was the seat of the bishops of Winchester. Palace

The palace once stood in an enormous park of some 10,000 acres. Most of the remains to be seen today date from the 12th and 14th centuries. There are substantial parts of the Great Hall and three-storey tower, and the moat which once surrounded the palace can be seen in places. A brick wall which once encircled the palace is still in place. Nearby is the abbot's fish pond. Conservation is now complete on part of the north-east range of guest rooms, latterly a farmhouse. Inside is an exhibition on the history of Bishop's Waltham

An extract from Pevsner's The Buildings of England: Hampshire Edition on Bishop's Waltham Palace "First built c1135 by Bishop Henry of Blois on the site of a cemetery. Reconstruction on an ambitious scale seems to have taken place c1160-80. There were various alterations in the next two centuries, and extensive rebuilding in the 15th century, especially during the episcopate of Bishop Langton (1493-1501).   The palace was still occupied by bishops in the early 17th century, but it was damaged in the Civil War and subsequently allowed to fall into complete ruin.   Little survives above ground level but broken flint-walls with no traces of their original surface coverings and not much of the stonework dressings of arches, doorways, or windows; parts of the palace can be traced only in foundations. The significance of some of the more fragmentary parts is not at all clear either on the ground or from the accounts available, and the subsequent description is confined to the features of architectural note. The place was contained in a rectangular site surrounded by a moat, stretches of which are still visible, partly filled with water, especially on the west side. Entrance now is on the site of the gatehouse, of which only a fragment is left. The principal palace buildings were along the west and south sides of the rectangle, and much remains of the west range, facing, over the moat, the present main road to Winchester.   The Great Hall occupies the centre part of the range; the hall of c1160-80 was built at first-floor level on an undercroft, but in the late 15th century the undercroft was removed, the space it had occupied partly filled with earth, and a new hall floor constructed on a level between that of the previous floor and the original ground level. Remains of a 12th century arcade in the south wall indicate the level of the previous floor. The west wall of the hall substantially remains, with the openings and part of the stonework of tall transomed two light Perp windows.  North of the hall are the very ruinous kitchen and service rooms; immediately to the south is a room retaining a 12th century window in this west wall. This connects with the tower at the south west corner of the palace, essential of c1160-80 and remaining to its full height of three storeys on its south and west sides. It contains the remains of 12th and 15th century windows as well as of fireplaces. Of the south range, in which were the bishop’s private apartments, hardly anything is left above foundation level except the first stretch of outer wall adjoining the tower. At the south end of the south range are the foundations and crypt of the apsidal chapel, a survival of the first place of Bishop de Blois, not yet fully investigated at the time of writing.   Detached from the ruins of the main builds, to the north east, is the fairly complete shell of the east range, an austere early 14th century two-storey building, altered in the late 16th century, with small square-headed window openings and plain doorways. Next to this is a building externally largely of brick, though partly of stone, containing medieval timber framework.   The curtilage of the palace, including ground to the south and east, was enclosed with a red-brick wall by Bishop Langton. Much of this remains, bordering existing roads, including an octagonal brick turret, pyramidally roofed, at the north east angle, and the lower part of another turret at the south west angle. The south west part of this walled enclosure is now occupied by a brick 17th and 18th century house called Place House".

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