Dorchester Bishops Court

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are no visible remains

NameDorchester Bishops Court
Alternative Names
Historic CountryOxfordshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishDorchester

Farmhouse. C16/C17, remodelled and extended early C19. Rendered walls, partly over timber framing, and some brick; old plain-tile roof with brick stacks. L-plan, extended. 2 storeys plus attics. Symmetrical 3-window early-C19 rendered front has central 6-panel door, with ornamental overlight, and 16-pane sashes. A delicate wrought-iron verandah runs across the front. The steep-pitched hipped roof returns to right, and the end wall has leaded casements and a 5-canted bay window with wooden pilaster mullions and crenellation. An entrance canopy, further to the rear has similar decoration. Earlier range, parallel to front range, has a half-hipped gable to left and a clustered ridge stack. Interior not inspected but noted as containing remains of an L-shaped timber-framed house, possibly dating from a rebuilding recorded in 1552. Reputed to be on site of Bishop's Palace, destroyed at Reformation. (Listed Building Report)

The bisshop's palace, as it saide ther, was at the toune's end by north west, wher it appere fundations of old buildinges: and there as yet be kept the courtes. (Leland)

The Bishop of Lincoln's great estate of Dorchester, assessed at 90 hides in Domesday Book, represented a part of the ancient endowments of the see of Dorchester which had been transferred to Lincoln. Of this Domesday estate 59 hides and 3 virgates were the bishop's demesne, the remainder was held by under-tenants. The bishop's demesne and the subinfeudated parts of the estate were almost as extensive as Dorchester hundred and included as well land at Baldon and Little Milton which was outside the hundred.

In the second quarter of the 13th century the demesne manor included lands in Baldon, Burcot, Chislehampton, and Drayton as well as in Dorchester

In 1329 the bishop was granted free warren in his demesne lands in these places and they were still listed as part of the demesne manor in 1551.

This complex manor formed part of the temporalities of the bishopric of Lincoln until 1547, when it was surrendered to the Crown by Henry Holbeach shortly after his translation from Rochester.

Dorchester's importance as a demesne manor is clearly shown in a survey of the bishop's estates of the second quarter of the 13th century. Not only did the bishop frequently visit the township, but he maintained a demesne farm which was expected to provide for his needs in residence and also supplied produce for him at his other manors. A certain amount was evidently sold, for his tenants had to carry grain to Oxford and Wallingford where it was taken on by boat to London. (VCH)

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 ReferenceSU575946
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  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 270-2
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 179
  • Lobel, Mary D. (ed), 1962, VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 7 p. 39 online transcription


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 364
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 118 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)