Thetford Bishop's Palace

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are uncertain remains

NameThetford Bishop's Palace
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishThetford

The mother church of this city was dedicated to St. Mary, and stood where the free-school, and master of the hospital's house now stands; this, in all probability, belonged to the Bishop of the province, (who, it is to be thought, had a house near it,) till Stigand retained it in his hands, with other revenues of the bishoprick, after he left the see: but upon his disgrace, the King gave it, with the four churches appendant to it, and all that belonged to them, to Bishop Arfast and his heirs, in fee and inheritance, who placed his episcopal chair in it, and afterwards gave the inheritance of it to Richard, his eldest son, and the other four churches to his other sons, and their heirs. This Arfast, assisted by Roger Bygod, rebuilt the church, dedicating it to St. Mary, the Holy Trinity, and all the Saints, and joined his palace, or mansion-house, to the north side of it, towards its west end, of which there is so much now standing, (which serves for a wall to the garden, facing the Canons,) that we can plainly distinguish its breadth; it consisted of a nave, two isles, a north and south transept, (the arch of which now divides the school and master's apartment,) and a chancel or choir, the east end of which reached the street, within about 12 yards, as its foundation discovers, so that it was a noble church, fit for the cathedral of such a see. (Blomefield)

Gatehouse Comments

The short lived cathedral of Thetford was probably near the Grammar school, south of the river in medieval Suffolk, and the bishop probably had a house nearby. The see was transferred to Thetford, from Elmham, in 1075 but then relocated to Norwich in 1094. The see must have been translocated to an existing church (dedicated to St. Mary) although possibly some work was then done to this church. The palace is likely to have been modest and to have been incorporated into the later priory either directly or as a source of building materials.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL867830
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  • Page, Wm (ed), 1906, 'Houses of Cluniac monks: The priory of St Mary, Thetford' VCH Norfolk Vol. 2 p. 363 online transcription
  • Blomefield, Francis, 1805, ''Thetford, chapter 11: Of Thetford Bishoprick, the Bishop's palace, and Cathedral church' An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk Vol. 2 p. 47-51 online transcription
  • Marin, T., 1779, The History of the Town of Thetford in the Counties of of Norfolk and Suffolk from the earliest accounts to the present time (John Nichols) p. 31-41 online copy