Nettleham Bishops Manor

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop), and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameNettleham Bishops Manor
Alternative NamesLangworth; Netelham
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishNettleham

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.

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. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTF006751
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 15' 50.8" Longitude 0° 29' 36.08"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 53° 15' 50.8" Longitude 0° 29' 36.08"

View full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 55, 57, 79
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 69 (slight)
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 270-1
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 179
  • Everson, P.L.,Taylor, C.C. and Dunn, C.J., 1991, Change and Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire p. 129-131
  • Thompson, A. Hamilton, 1912, Military Architecture in England during the Middle Ages (OUP) p. 301 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 411 online copy


  • Russell, V. and Moorhouse, S., 1971, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 6 p. 19-27
  • 22-SEP-1960, Country Life p. 630, 633
  • Hurst, J.G., 1960, 'Medieval Britain in 1959' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 4 p. 153 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1334-38) Vol. 3 p. 330 online copy


  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)
  • English Heritage, 1999, Revised scheduling document 22749. MPP 23