Bishops Tawton Bishops Palace

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBishops Tawton Bishops Palace
Alternative NamesCourt Farmhouse
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishBishops Tawton

"Farmhouse N {?S} of the church said to have been a residence of the Bishops of Exeter. It incorporates late medieval parts, but was castillated and, it seems, generally tidied up c.1800 (Pevsner).

The Manor of BISHOP'S TAWTON was the original Bishop's See which the second bishop removed to Crediton. The bishops had a palace here many centuries after the see was removed. Some ruins of it are still to be seen

In the churchyard are the ruins of an ancient building, called the DEANERY, belonging to the Dean of Exeter (Lysons).

"Rejecting the assertion of HOKER, that the Bishops of Devonshire had ever fixed their see at Bishop's Tawton as entirely void of historic authority"...the manor formed part of the endowment of the See first established at Crediton in 910. "Some small remains of their ancient palace are still visible on the south side of the parish cemetery". In it was a chapel mentioned 25 Nov 1321 (Oliver).

The farmhouse, which is in a good state of preservation and is still occupied, has roughly built walls of stone. Two square towers in the south and one in the NW with the upper approx 1.0m in brick appear otherwise to be original and show traces of sandstone quoining. The steeply pitched roof has modern slates and the majority of windows are of sash type. One window in the south wall is of ecclesiastical type in probably modern ashlar work. The masonry of the attached outbuildings is similar to that of the house. No trace of a ruined building was found in the churchyard. (F1 JR 16-OCT-53). (PastScape)

Farmhouse, incorporating remains of Bishop of Exeter's palace. C15 with possibly some earlier fabric; heavily remodelled in late C18. Random stone rubble with ashlar dressings. Slate roof of 2 pitches, hipped at left end, half-hipped at right end. Large lateral stack to west side with slated off-sets and tall brick shaft. Brick stack at right end, ridge stack and 2 other off-centre stacks

The early features are concentrated at the 2-storeyed south service end and through- passage. Virtual rebuilding and widening of house in late C18 above the through- passage has obscured original plan, now of single principal room to each side of through passage. Also added in late C18 were Gothick towers at all the corners except to the north-east. 2 storeys. East side has tower to south-east corner with brick crenellated parapet. Blind roundel above blocked window with timber lintels. Small 2-paned casement near base with probably reset nowy-arched stone lintel. Two 2-light casements to right, that to left with 3 panes per light, above sash 2 over 2 panes with timber lintel. 2-storey porch to right with plain gabled bargeboards. C20 window and doorway. At right side, slated lean-to roof to brick kitchen extension of 1 1/2 storeys. Gabled dormer with carved bargeboards above 3 C20 windows, the central one with slate dripmould. Rounded bread oven to north side with slate capping. Slated lean-to roof to porch to its right in angle of single storey dairy extension with slate roof projecting to north with plank door. Towers at each corner on west side, that to left sits on the dairy roof with semi-circular brick arch infilled with brick to rear. Each has brick crenellated parapet and blind window to false top stage above 4-centred arched openings with transomed casements with diamond leaded cames and dressed stone voussoirs. Similar casement to right- hand tower. Left tower has 1/2-glazed door with small niche above. Between the 2 towers, the 2 left hand bays of the 4 break forward, with C20 conservatory enclosing C19 sash 8 over 8 panes to left of French windows. Otherwise C20 fenestration but with chamfered stone surrounds to 2 ground floor windows to right. The rear wall of the dairy which extends from left side tower incorporates an early doorway and window opening, the doorway with ashlar chamfered surround to left of partially blocked window with hoodmould and label stops, both probably reset in the late C18 rebuild and now enclosed in greenhouse. 2 C18 blind quatrefoil loops above. Towers on the south side with blind roundels above tall narrow openings, infilled to left, 4-paned light to right flank 3-light cavetto mullion window with cusped heads and diamond leaded cames. Octofoil opening to small stone panel inset above. Interior features include heavy chamfered and stopped beams to service end, with former entry from through passage by possibly C15 pointed arched doorway with stone chamfered surround now blocked. Barrel vaulted ceiling to large chamber above with single boss probably of wood depicting dove and olive branch conceals 2 large trusses above with short curved feet resting on timber wall plates. Cranked collars morticed into soffits, 2 tiers of threaded purlins and added tier of butt- jointed purlins near base. No smoke-blackening. Remaining roof structure is of C18 rebuild with later patching. (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 ReferenceSS565300
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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 549-51
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 177
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1952, Buildings of England: Devon p. 55
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 356 online copy
  • Oliver, 1842, Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Devon Vol. 3 p. 13-14
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. cccxlv-cccxlviii online transcription


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 107
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 171 online copy


  • Tapley-Soper, H., 1942-6, Devon and Cornwall notes and queries Vol. 22 p. 78-80


  • 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)