Exeter Bishops Palace and Cathedral Close

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop), and also as a Certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameExeter Bishops Palace and Cathedral Close
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishExeter

The Bishop's Palace at Exeter (while originating presumably with the Norman cathedral in C12) is mostly of 1848, by E Christian. The only medieval parts showing are the masonry of the hall, north and east walls and screen, the Chapel of St. Faith (in the north east side of the part of the palace nearer to the cathedral; alternatively and less accurately given as dedicated to St. Mary (Rose-Troup)) which was dedicated between 1224 and 1244, the early C13 entrance arch in the south east tower, the C15 Tower porch and the tower itself, and a re-used oriel window of 1500. The unique entry passage directly into the cathedral was originally early C16. (PastScape)

The Bishop's Palace. Retains some C13 work, the main block having originally been the Great Hall. Lower part of Entrance tower and fine internal arch of this date. C13 Chapel, restored by William Butterfield. Famous "Courtenay" mantelpiece (position moved) late C15. Many later demolitions and alterations, including virtual rebuilding in 1846-8, by Ewan Christian. Heavitree stone. Three storeys. Mullioned windows. Slate roof. Early C16 oriel window brought from demolished house in city. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Licences to crenellate granted to Bishop Peter Quinel in 1290 and Bishop Walter Stapledon in 1322. Some slight remains of the cathedral close and palace buildings survive in later buildings.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX921925
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 549-51
  • Higham, Robert A., 1999, 'Castles, Fortified Houses and Fortified Towns in the Middle Ages' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 136-43
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 35, 47, 108-9, 167, 176
  • Blaycock, S.R., 1987, Observations in the Bishop's Palace, Exeter, 1985 (Exeter)
  • Pevsner N., 1952, Buildings of England: South Devon p. 162-3
  • Morewood, Caroline C., 1910, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of Canterbury) (London; Constable & Co) p. 28-34 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 167, 403, 408 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. cccxlv-cccxlviii online transcription



  • Allan, John and Dyer, Martin J., 2005, 'The Medieval Gatehouse of the Chancellor's House, Cathedral Close, Exeter' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 63 p. 93-102
  • Musson, J., 1998 March, Country Life
  • Blaylock, S., 1990, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 147 Supp. p. 41-5
  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Coulson, C., 1982, 'Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation: An Essay in the Sociology and Metaphysics of Medieval Fortification' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 69-100 see online copy
  • Rose-Troup, F., 1932, Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 64 p. 415-20
  • Chanter, J.F., 1931, 'The Bishop's Palace at Exeter' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 63 p. 381
  • 1913, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 70 p. 517-8

Guide Books

  • Chanter, J.K., 1932, The Bishop's Palace at Exeter (Exeter)
  • Addleshaw, P., 1898, Exeter Cathedral

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1893, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1281-91) Vol. 2 p. 393 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1904, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1321-24) Vol. 4 p. 140 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)