'The Palace' medieval house and Tudor supply base, Holy Island village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014571

Date first listed: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of 'The Palace' medieval house and Tudor supply base, Holy Island village
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Holy Island

National Grid Reference: NU 12755 41954


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

This monument is a rare survival of a group of medieval buildings which have not been extensively altered in modern times. The complex originated as a domestic house the form of which seems unusual. With the exception of bastles and tower houses, few domestic houses of this date survive in Northumberland. The form of this one, apparently an undefended `courtyard' type house, makes it a rare survival. As such it would contribute to any study of developing and changing forms of medieval domestic housing in Northumberland. The extent of survival is particularly good. Large stretches of walling remain upstanding and allow the form and arrangement of the building complex to be reconstructed. A significant depth of buried remains are present at the site. These will retain important information on the history of use of the site as well as further important information on its structural form. Although originally privately owned, the complex of buildings passed into the hands of the adjacent priory. A recent study has argued that it may have stood within the north east corner of the early monastic precinct. The surviving remains will retain information on how the complex was used during this period and will thereby contribute to any study of the monastic community. Apart from the priory complex and the parish church this is the only significant medieval survival on the island. As such it will contribute to any study of the medieval settlement of Holy Island. After the Dissolution the complex functioned for a while as a victualling and armaments centre for the forces of Elizabeth I. The military use of this and other sites on Holy Island at this period must be seen in the context of a wider system of coastal defence stretching along the east coast, the construction of which was initiated by Henry VIII. During Elizabeth's reign the continued threat posed by Scotland, along with threats of invasion from Spain or the Spanish Netherlands, necessitated continued strengthening and maintenance of the coastal defences. Surviving Elizabethan fortifications are extremely rare, with fewer than ten recognised examples in England as a whole. In view of this rarity all examples will be identified as nationally important. The best surviving examples are the defences of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which formed the northern extent of this particular defence system. Whilst not a fortification in its own right, this complex is important in providing an insight into how the Elizabethan coastal defence system here was supported.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of a group of medieval buildings within an enclosure known locally as `The Palace'. It is situated immediately outside Lindisfarne Priory and on the eastern edge of Holy Island village. The visible remains include a trapezoidal enclosure measuring c.45m by 55m. There are upstanding masonry remains of ranges of buildings on the north, east and west sides of the enclosure; these remains now form the perimeter wall of the enclosure. The ground level within the enclosure is up to 2m above that of the roads surrounding the site on the north, east and southern sides; to the west are gardens at a slightly higher level. On the north side of the enclosure, set east of centre and backing onto the road, are the remains of a building 10m long and at least 5m wide. Its north wall stands c.4m high but the line of the south wall is no longer visible. The north wall is built of coursed roughly squared stone. It has a rubble footing, now 0.6m above the road, but originally probably at ground level. One metre above this is a chamfered plinth, returning on both end walls. There is a possible blocked loop, a narrow opening for discharging small arms, towards the west end of the north wall. Internally, fragments of both end walls stand a little higher than the north wall, and there appear to be the remains of a vault on the north and east walls. At the east end of the building, the perimeter wall at the north east angle of the enclosure appears to be more recent, but has an internal set back that seems to indicate the survival of older fabric in its lower sections. This may be the remains of the building shown on a map of 1792. The remains of an inner range of buildings along the north side survives as an incomplete building. The west wall measures 6.8m externally and stands 4m high, with a stub of the south wall and an 11m length of the north wall which stands c.2m high and is 0.5m thick. There is a vertical joint mid way along the west wall. The internal faces of both north and west walls have joist holes which mark a floor level now only 0.3m above the present ground surface; this suggests that a complete lower floor level lies buried several metres below. The east side of the enclosure includes the remains of two medieval buildings in the perimeter wall. These walls stand a little over 2m high externally, but only half of this internally; this again suggests an accumulation of material and the probability that a complete floor level lies buried. The principal length of walling measures 31m long by c.1m thick and is constructed of heavy squared stones, a type of fabric which is typical of 16th century Northumberland. At its north end a return of similar walling extends 5m westwards, but at its south end the wall abuts on a 7.8m length of thinner (0.6m) walling of smaller stonework with a chamfered plinth. The walling and the plinth return 1m westwards at the south end. From the junction between the two walls it appears that the southern one may be earlier and probably formed part of the documented 15th century house called Harbottle Place, which must have been a substantial establishment, probably a courtyard house. Near the north end of the internal face of the northern length of wall is a blocked opening and in its external face, 8.5m from the south end, is an opening which could be a gunloop. The gunloop faces the seaward side and is probably associated with the Tudor conversion of Harbottle Place to a supply base. On the west side of the enclosure are the remains of a substantial wall which abuts on the south end of the west wall of another building before turning to run south for 36m. The northern section is now ruinous and it forms a retaining wall between the enclosure and gardens further west. A map of 1548 suggests that this wall formed a boundary wall to the site and was not part of a building. The earliest documentary reference to the site dates to the beginning of the 15th century when the site was owned by John Jenkyn who later sold it to John Harbottle of Berwick. His house became known as Harbottle Place and this may have led to it being called `The Palace'. In 1482 the Harbottle property was sold to John Reyd, and in 1485 conveyed as three parcels (a house plus two lands) to George Horsley, Oswald Ogle and Roland Hebburn. In 1514 Ogle and Hebburn sold their lands to the Prior of Durham. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries it passed, along with the priory, into the hands of the crown. The buildings then appear to have become a victualling and armaments centre. In 1548 a map of Holy Island compiled by the Crown Agents, shows the site as a square enclosure with buildings on the north and east. The buildings on the north appear to consist of a block with two cross wings and a parallel range behind the central block containing two circular structures, possibly brewing vats. A survey in 1560 made for Elizabeth I describes the priory as now being `the Queen's storehouse', and states that there was `...also another house in the towne called the Pallace, which is the newe brewhouse and bakehouse, and other offices in the same for the said storehouse'. The use of the site as a supply base does not seem to have persisted for very long; by 1596 the brewing vats are said to have been useless. The buildings were abandoned and fell into ruin. A 1792 enclosure map labels the enclosure `Palace', but only shows a single building at the north east corner. The shed used for stabling on the west wall of the enclosure is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 24601

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ryder, P, The Palace, Holy Island, (1994)

End of official listing