Darlington Bishops Palace

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are no visible remains

NameDarlington Bishops Palace
Alternative NamesOld Hall; Hall Garth; Hallgarth
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDarlington
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishDarlington

A house on this site once belonged to the Bishops of Durham and it was built in 1164. It became the town's poorhouse in 1806. It was a long, low building with windows dating from medieval to the 18th century. Much of it was demolished in 1828 and it was finally destroyed in 1870. The site has now been built over. (Keys to the Past)

The bishop's manor house at Darlington, is situate due south of the church. Passing through the court-yard, we come to a doorway on the north of the building, which has been pointed; indeed, the bounding label still remains. In a direct line with this is a neat little early English arch, the remnant of Pudsey's work, shut up in a sort of pantry. It was formerly the entrance of a long arched passage, leading to what is now a hen-house, supposed to have been a dungeon; though why, it would be somewhat difficult to find out. This passage is now completely removed, and the hen-house so modernized as to retain little that appertaineth to "hoare antiquitie" save the massive stone walls. To this I ought to add that the floor has been raised, and the arch somewhat curtailed of its fair proportions. To the right of the space between the outer doorway and the arch is a large room of later architecture, apparently a hall. It is lighted by small, square, oblong lights; and at the west end are two doorways, flat four-centered; one leading into a closet, the other into the modem part of the workhouse. The wall-plate of the roof –also late florid– remains above these arches, showing the moulding of the ribs, which appear to have divided the roof into a series of square panels. The exterior roofs of the whole ancient part of the building are of good pitch, and are plain oak, as the work- house-master informed me; but the exact plan of the mansion cannot now be ascertained. One high square chimney retains an early corbel table, formed of minute arches

To the left of the entrance, and opposite the hall before described, is "the chapel" (St James's). The whole of the exterior is roughcast. One may still see three Norman lights in the eastern gable (pointing out the date, 1160, as a probable one), and the sides had also small circular-headed lights of extremely deep splay. The chapel formerly opened out of the entrance passage by an enriched doorway, but the whole is now modernized. The foundation will be noticed in the Ecclesiastical Division. Up stairs, are the remains of what is termed " the anquetting room," which has had traceried windows, one now fbnning a doorway. There is also a plain early stone fireplace. In ancient times, we find the plot of ground on which the mansion stands called Hallgarth. The Manor Honse was bought by the township in 1806, for the purposes of a poor-house. It had been so used for some time before. A large pile of new buildings was erected to the south in 1808, the cost being partly deferred by the bequest of Mr. G. G. Phillips. (Longstaffe)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNZ291143
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  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 175
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 51-4
  • Leach, A.F., 1905, 'History of Schools' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Durham Vol. 1 (London) p. 387 online copy
  • Longstaffe, W.H.D., 1854, History of Darlington (Darlington) p. 188-9 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 147, 158
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 69 online copy


  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218 esp 192


  • 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)