Harlowbury Abbots Palace

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Other)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHarlowbury Abbots Palace
Alternative NamesHarlowbury House
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishHarlow

C13 timber-framed Abbots' Palace formerly belonging to the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, the aisles were removed and the whole encased in mid C19 stock brick. Plan, cruciform roof steeply pitched and clad with peg-tiles, hipped end gabled; with a dentilled brick eaves-band-cellars beneath house. West range 4 bays, east range 2 bays. Whole of 2 storeys with C19 sash windows, paned, beneath rubbed brick arches. Projecting bay at centre of front contains porch, its roof gabled. Timber-framed and rendered wing at north. Insider the main range contains the original roof of the great hall, this is notch lap-jointed and under-raftered, and was built after the older cross wing roof that is also notch lap-jointed and inside which a C14 crown post system was intruded. The top-plates of both roofs are splayed. (Listed buildings report)

The manor house of Harlowbury is a very large timber-framed aisled hall built either by Abbot Samson of Bury St Edmunds in the late C12 or by one of his successors in the early C13. Of this only the two bays of the open hall survive with its smoke-blackened roof, though without the aisles. In the C14 the east end of the aisled building was replaced by a 2-storey 4 bay crossing. In C15 a small bay wing with a crown-post roof and jettied to the south was added at right angles to the east side of the crossing at the southern end. The aisled building probably continued one bay further to the west although nothing survives today. In C16 a chimney stack and upper floor was put into the hall and probably at the same time the aisles were demolished. In late C19 all but the north side was encased in brick. The area adjoining the north wall of this timber-framed aisled house was excavated in an attempt to trace the outer aisle. However service and building trenches had removed all traces. A few late C12-C13 sherds were found. The manor had been left to the Abbey by the Saxon thegn Thurstan in 1041. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

Gatehouse Comments

Close to earthworks of DMV.

- 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 ReferenceTL477120
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  • Powell, W.R., 1983, VCH Essex Vol. 8 p. 131- (tenurial history) online transcription
  • RCHME, 1921, An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex Vol. 2 (central and south-west) p. 115 no. 5 online transcription


  • Bartlet, R., 1984, 'Harlowbury House' Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society Vol. 16 p. 169
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1982, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 182 download copy


  • 1999, Harlow Historic Town Assessment Report (Essex County Council) Download copy