|HCC Site ID:||1503||Parish:||Bishop’s Waltham|
|Access:||See opening Times||Ownership:||English Heritage (Palace), Palace House (private)|
The park of approximately 405 ha (1,000 acres) probably dates from Saxon times, as boundary hedges have been dated to this period. There was a deer park with the Palace being built by Henri de Blois about 1135 for the Bishops of Winchester. Senior clergy probably used the Palace when travelling round their diocese. There were thriving fishponds and water was diverted from the river to form a moat. Much re-building took place over the centuries and the redbrick wall surrounding the rectangular site was built by Bishop Langton who died in 1501. The Palace was destroyed in 1644 during the Civil War and never occupied again.
The park was split up and leased out and the brick Palace House was built in the SW part of the walled enclosure. When Palace House was sold in 1857, it had a number of outbuildings and lawn, shrubberies, kitchen garden, orchard, carriage drive and young fruit trees: with a meadow and part of the ruins it covered 3.25 ha (8 acres), In 1869, the site passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who sold it; then in 1889 it was placed in the guardianship of the Office of Works. From the 19th century landscaping only a few specimen trees remain. Palace House is now privately owned and the rose garden was re-designed in the 1990s by Michael Baron.
The ruins of the original Palace are in the care of English Heritage and open to the public during the summer. Much of Bishop Langton’s brick wall remains with ruins of two turrets. Parts of the fishponds also survive in the town though in need of some clearance.
Ruins of an important mediaeval palace with later additions and alterations. A 15th century wall and a part-filled moat surround the site. Palace House and its garden occupy the SW corner.
HGT Research: March 2003
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