Wolvesey Palace (Wolvesey Castle, Old Bishop's Palace)

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HCC Site ID: 1899 Parish: Winchester
Designations: SAM, SMR House LB I Area: Medium
Access: Public Access ONLY to Wolvesey Castle (EH) Ownership: New palace – Bishop of Winchester’s residence; Old palace ruins managed by English Heritage

Location and Site

The grounds of Wolvesey Palace are sited within the south east corner of the city walls which were incorporated into the defences of the palace. To the west is part of the Close wall. Extensive ruins still remain, including a western hall, a second hall, the Gatehouse, a defensive keep and a garderobe tower. The entrance to the remaining west wing and chapel is from College Street through wrought -iron gates between stone piers.

Historic Development

The Old Bishop’s Palace was built by Bishop de Blois in the 12th century and was one of the greatest medieval buildings in England, the chief residence of the Bishops of Winchester. William of Wykeham carried out extensive repair work in 1372-3 including improvements to the moat and a new curtain wall on the east side adjacent to the keep. The building was destroyed during the Civil War and a new palace was built for Bishop Morley in the late seventeenth century using materials from the old palace. The new palace ran south across the area of the infilled moat but was demolished in 1785, except for the west wing and the fifteenth century chapel. The west wing formed the official residence of the Bishops of Winchester.

Current Description

The east front has lawns with spring bulbs and a small herbaceous border. The main garden is to the west with lawns and herbaceous beds. The 18th century pedimented stables remain.

The ruins of the old palace are now managed by English Heritage and are open to the public.


Original palace built in the 12th century, destroyed in the Civil War. Rebuilt in late 17th century. Extensive ruins remain including two halls, gatehouse, defensive keep, garderobe tower and 18th century pedimented stables. Main garden to the west of west wing of 17th century house has lawns and herbaceous border; to the east lawn with spring bulb and smaller herbaceous border. Official residence of the Bishops of Winchester, old palace managed by English Heritage.

Information, February 2003

Click here to visit English Heritage site for this location.

Our address

Winchester Public access ONLY to Castle (EH) Click for Disclaimer & copyright
51.05912365081278, -1.3087472513122975

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