Biggin Abbey Bishops Palace

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBiggin Abbey Bishops Palace
Alternative NamesDitton; The Biggin
Historic CountryCambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely
Modern AuthorityCambridgeshire
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishFen Ditton

The summer residence of the bishops of Ely, later known as Biggin Abbey though never occupied by monks, stood on a formerly moated site in the north-west extension of the parish, opposite Bait's lock on the river Cam. During C13 and early C14 it provided successive bishops of Ely with a residence close to Cambridge. In 1276 Bishop Balsham was granted permission to enclose and crenellate the residence. Between the 1220s and 1320s kings passing through Fen Ditton on their way to Ely and East Anglia may sometimes have stayed at the bishop's mansion, as Henry III probably did in 1238, when he spent three days at Fen Ditton. Edward II was there for three weeks late in 1315. Bishops of Ely continued to visit Fen Ditton at times in the mid and late C14. The house, which was rebuilt in the late C14, consisted of a residential range of two storeys, and an additional building on the south side, possibly containing butteries. In 1478 Biggin was occupied by the bishop of Ely's physician. The Abbey was remodelled in C17 to include an internal chimney stack and a winding stone staircase. In 1768 the stonework was 'much going to decay'. In the late C20 clunch and freestone walls were rendered with cement. An adjacent C17 house of one storey with an attic had red brick walls and a gabled roof. (VCH, 2002)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceTL487617
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Calculate Print


  • Wareham, Andrew (ed), 2002, VCH Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely Vol. 10 p. 123-4 online transcription
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 154
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 167, 176
  • RCHME, 1972, An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire. Vol. 2: north-east Cambridgeshire p. 58 no. 5 online transcription
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 403 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1272-81) Vol. 1 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)