Little Downham Bishops Palace

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLittle Downham Bishops Palace
Alternative NamesTower Farmhouse
Historic CountryCambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely
Modern AuthorityCambridgeshire
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishDownham

C15 palace of Bishop of Ely. Gatehouse survives as farm outbuilding. Built for Bishop Alcock (1486-1500). Red brick with deeper red brick diaper patterning; plinth coursed in English bond with chamfered limestone band, limestone dressings to quoins and openings. Reroofed with corrugated iron. Possibly of several original storeys, height reduced to two storeys with walls and door jambs in rear elevation of rear wing demolished. South elevation: Pedestrian entrance to left of centre through moulded four-centred arch with panelled overmantel and superimposed crocketed ogee arch enclosing a cock, the rebus of Bishop Alcock. Windows with round-headed- lights, drip moulds and chamfered mullions, two single-light ground floor windows and one three-light window to right hand of entrance; one large five-light window reduced in height at first floor and two single-light windows to right hand. Interior: The original plan was of an entrance hall with guardroom and doorway to staircase from the cross passage with an inner room to the right hand. The end room was possibly tunnel vaulted and the hall has springings for two bays of fan vaulting. The room divisions are repeated at first floor. The Lease of 1746 'with covenant to repair tower said to have been gatehouse... into a good farmhouse'. Bishopsic of Ely Lease Book. Kitchen wing survives as barn, fragments also incorporated into later buildings. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceTL519842
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Rosie Carpenter All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Pugh, R.B. (ed), 2002, VCH Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely Vol. 4 p. 92 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. 83-4, 154
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 176
  • Patterson, W., 1974, The Village and Church
  • Pevsner, N., 1970, Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire (London, Penguin) p. 330



  • 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)