Bishop's Manor: the remains of a medieval bishop's palace


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018897

Date first listed: 05-Mar-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Bishop's Manor: the remains of a medieval bishop's palace
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Nettleham

National Grid Reference: TF 00606 75181


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

Reasons for Designation

Bishops' palaces were high status domestic residences providing luxury accommodation for the bishops and lodgings for their large retinues; although some were little more than country houses, others were the setting for great works of architecture and displays of decoration. Bishops' palaces were usually set within an enclosure, sometimes moated, containing a range of buildings, often of stone, including a hall or halls, chapels, lodgings and a gatehouse, often arranged around a courtyard or courtyards. The earliest recorded examples date to the seventh century. Many were occupied throughout the medieval period and some continued in use into the post- medieval period; a few remain occupied today. Only some 150 bishops' palaces have been identified and documentary sources confirm that they were widely dispersed throughout England. All positively identified examples are considered to be nationally important.

The remains of the bishop's palace at Nettleham survive well as a series of substantial earthworks. Limited archaeological excavation has demonstrated the survival of buried remains while leaving the majority of deposits intact, preserving valuable evidence for social and economic activity on the site. As a result of detailed archaeological survey and historical research the remains are quite well understood, the association of the earthwork remains of the palace with the buried remains of an earlier manor house demonstrating the development of a particular high-status site throughout the medieval period. The survival of medieval garden remains is very rare, and together with the remains of the palace buildings will provide insights into the symbolic and aesthetic values of a particular facet of medieval society. As a monument presented to the public through interpretative displays, it also serves as an important educational and recreational resource.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the bishop's palace complex and its associated features, together with the buried remains of the early medieval manor house which preceded it. The bishop's palace was established at Nettleham at the beginning of the 12th century. The remains of the palace overlie those of a manor house in royal ownership which was granted to Bishop Bloet by Henry I in 1101. The palace provided accommodation for royal visits, including that of Edward I in 1301 at which his son was made Prince of Wales.

In 1336 Bishop Burghersh was granted a licence to crenellate the house and to surround it with a stone wall. The house was damaged during the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, but was not finally deserted until later in the century. The buildings were partly dismantled in the early 17th century to provide materials for works to the bishop's palace in Lincoln, and by the later 18th century no buildings remained standing.

The remains of the palace complex take the form of a series of substantial earthworks, up to 2m in height, arranged in terraces on a north-facing slope on the south side of the village of Nettleham. The remains of the principal buildings of the palace are located in the north eastern part of the monument, where the earth-covered remains of stone walls represent a series of ranges which included private chambers for the accommodation of the bishop and his royal guests, a chapel, offices, a kitchen and stables. The private rooms are believed to have been situated in the western part of the palace while the service buildings were located to the east. The buildings were constructed on a series of levelled terraces which are matched by those of the palace gardens adjacent to the west. The gardens, which are bounded by the earth-covered remains of a stone wall, are believed to have been laid out in the mid-14th century after Bishop Burghersh obtained a licence to crenellate. Referred to in a document of 1432, they include the remains of paths and flowerbeds arranged in rectangular blocks. Archaeological excavation in the area of the garden has demonstrated the survival of underlying building remains thought to represent the manor house which stood on the site before the 12th century.

The central part of the monument takes the form of a broad terrace, bounded on the north by the main palace buildings and garden wall, and on the south by a series of building platforms arranged along the inside of a linear bank. The bank represents the earth-covered remains of a stone wall which formed the southern boundary of the palace complex; the building remains at its centre represent the principal gatehouse of the palace. The courtyard thus created housed the palace's agricultural and service buildings, including, to each side of the gatehouse, the remains of a large rectangular barn. Further building remains on the east side of the courtyard may represent service buildings such as a brewhouse or stables, with an enclosed yard adjacent to the east. In the western part of the courtyard is a deep extraction pit from which limestone was quarried in the post-medieval period; adjacent to the east side of it is a mound thought to include the remains of a limekiln.

In the southern part of the monument, running southwards from the remains of the gatehouse, are two parallel linear banks representing a walled trackway which served as the principal approach to the palace complex. Adjacent to each side of this approach are the remains of a large rectangular embanked enclosure.

All fences, gates and garden structures are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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: 22749

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing