Bishopthorpe Palace

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry footings remains

NameBishopthorpe Palace
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityYork
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishBishopthorpe

Bishopthorpe Place was originally built in 1241 by Archbishop Walter de Grey with the undercroft being constructed using stone from an old manor house which de Grey pulled down when he bought the village of Thorpe St Andrew. It is constructed from magnesian limestone, almost certainly from Thevesdale near Tadcaster. It has mason's marks common to York Minster south transept (also built for de Grey) and was finished around 1250. The house then consisted of a Great Hall with a chapel at right angles at the upper end and offices with the Archbishop's rooms above them at the lower end. Grey decided that when each Archbishop completed his term of office the house should revert to the Dean and Chapter of York rather than to the King - a financially beneficial arrangement that was observed until the Reformation. Archbishop Thoresby extended his private rooms in 1364-5 and in 1483 Archbishop Rotherham added a range to the north built of red brick which doubled the size of the residential quarters and improved the kitchens. In 1766-9 a Gothic block was built to the west of the main range of the house by Thomas Atkinson for Archbishop Drummond and provided a new entrance hall, drawing rooms and services. An addition to the north range was produced in 1835, probably by Sir Rober Smirke on behalf of Archbishop Harcourt and rooms were built above the chapel. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Salter writes part of moat is visible. No evidence of other fortifications. The location on the bank of the River Ouse would allow the archbishops access to an excellent transport network for the diocese.

- 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 ReferenceSE597478
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  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 21
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 105, 117, 118, 156, 188
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 298-303
  • James, T.B., 1990, The Palaces of Medieval England (London; Seaby) p. 155
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 108-22
  • Le Patourel, H.E. Jean, 1973, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire (The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 5) p. 122
  • Weston, Marion, 1911, 'Bishopthorpe' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 32-101 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 522
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 12 online copy
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription

Guide Books

  • Gee, Eric A., 1983, Bishopthorpe Palace: an architectural history (York: The Ebor Press)


  • Howard, R.E., Arnold, A.J., and Tyers , C., 2008, Bishopthorpe Palace, Bishopthorpe, York: Tree-Ring Analysis of Timbers (English Heritage Research Department Reports series 57/2008) online summary
  • 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)