Lydstep Old Palace

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

There are major building remains

NameLydstep Old Palace
Alternative NamesLis Castle; Place of Arms; Palace of Arms
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed

Medieval and later walls. Rubble, some corbelled work and gabled ends, vaulted undercroft. Associated with both Bishop Gower, a notorious builder, and with Archol Llawhir, king of Dyfed. The building, presumably a residence, is thought to be of C14-15 originally. (Coflein)

At N of the A4139 in the centre of Lydstep Village, immediately opposite to Lydstep Tavern.

One of 2 mediaeval houses which survived in Lydstep until the late C19. It has been credited with prestigious origins. It was known traditionally in the vicinity as the 'Place of Arms', and that name may have been corrupted to 'palace'. Whatever its mediaeval origins, it was probably the place where the manorial court of Manorbier and Penally was held. The large field immediately to its N is Longstone Park; the Palace is marked as within this field on the Bush estate plan of 1772. The manorial court was known as 'curia de Langstone'. A cottage was appended to the S end of the building and occupied down to the C19. It survives in ruin. Another cottage, adjacent to the NE side, is hinted at in Barnwell’s description, but of this nothing remains. Barnwell (1867) provides a valuable drawing of the Palace. He shows that the external stairs were then in place, the windows to the parlour were barred or had small sashes, and the parlour was roofed in thatch. The SE gable chimney was complete with a stone capping. He also shows, but does not comment on, a corbelled projection probably for a lateral fireplace in the SW wall of the ruined hall. His illustrator ignored the cottage at the SE end and any other post-mediaeval appendages there may have been.

The Palace is an elongated building aligned NWSE. Containing an undefended first-floor hall with a second room which was apparently a parlour. The undercroft is vaulted, in 2 unequal sections, the longer vault being longitudinal. Limestone masonry, roughly coursed

The entrance to the smaller basement from the NE side has a round-headed doorway with roughly shaped voussoirs, and a corbel to the right which may have supported a porch roof. Another doorway has been more roughly formed to its right, and there is a very small window between. At the W corner of the smaller basement is an annex of small size also with vaulted floor above, probably the undercroft of a latrine. There is a SW window to the little passage connecting the annex to the room. There are 2 windows and a portable door on the same side serving the larger basement. This basement has a probably later mid cross-wall. At the SW side is a window below the vault. The stairs were external, against the SW side, but have long disappeared. In the gable wall of the parlour is a chimney supported on corbels at first floor level. In the vicinity of this gable are remnants of a slate roof. Two windows in the SW wall with splayed embrasures. The upper part of the building is heavily overgrown. (Listed Building Report)

Lydstep Palace is a late medieval, masonry, first-floor hall house in the 'Pembrokeshire tradition', with a vaulted undercroft, in the centre of the popular resort village of Lydstep. It is now roofless and partially ruinous, but has been the subject of a long-term programme of remedial works, through Pembrokeshire County Council and SPARC/PLANED, beginning in 1996, and preceded by a full survey by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. We also undertook the clearance of the debris from the upper (first) floor. Lydstep Palace appears to have had a jurisdictional role, as a court of the Manor of Manorbier and Penally, as well as a domestic function. During the medieval period, it appears that the first floor comprised one large chamber, subdivided into smaller spaces by at least one open arch. Post-medieval alterations included the division of the first floor into three rooms. Later occupation, confined to two of these rooms on the first floor, continued into the early 20th century and was associated with a bread-oven in the ruined room. This was possibly linked to the occupied area by a flagged path. At the same time soil appears to have been imported and deposited over the ground-floor vaults, possibly as a garden. No medieval deposits or in situ flooring were encountered during the clearance work. Instead, it appears that the medieval first floor comprised a suspended timber floor over the vault apices. (Ken Murphy, Dyfed Archaeological Trust,

Gatehouse Comments

Hull calls this a 'fortified dwelling' but mentions nothing which could be considered a fortification. The association with Bishop Gower and the see of St David's seems to be false speculation presumably made because of the 'Palace' name for this relatively modest house. Not a bishops palace and not fortified but was a late medieval manorial centre and court house.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS086983
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  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 128-30
  • Smith, P. 1988 (2edn), The Houses of the Welsh Countryside (RCAHMW) p. 22
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 214 no. 653 online copy


  • Walker, R.F., 1991, 'The manor of Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, in the early seventeenth century' National Library of Wales Journal Vol. 27.2 online copy
  • 1867, 'Domestic Architecture of South Pembrokeshire' Archaeologia Cambrensis (3 series) Vol. 13 p. 366-8 online copy


  • Ludlow, Neil, 1996, Lydstep Palace: archaeological recording and structural analysis, June 1996 (Dyfed Archaeological Trust Report)