Kings Langley Royal Palace

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Royal)

There are earthwork remains

NameKings Langley Royal Palace
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHertfordshire
Modern AuthorityHertfordshire
1974 AuthorityHertfordshire
Civil ParishKings Langley

Site of a royal palace extant between circa 1299-1469. (PastScape)

Manor acquired by Eleanor of Castile in 1276. Extensive alterations including backfilling a moat, construction of royal chambers and large wine cellar carried out 1279-1297. Seriously damaged by fire in 1431; by 1591 the Palace was reported to be in decay. Excavation in 1970 revealed part of the plan, and subsequent work has made it possible to work out the general layout. Further excavations located a well-documented domestic range called 'de Longgreuve'; and the weathering cone of the Great Well. In 1993 several fragments of walls and associated robber trenches, ditches and floor surfaces were found. There were also a large number of finds including a possible French 15C trading token. Groups of 13C-15C pottery were found during rescue excavations in 1961, 1974 and 1977. (Hertfordshire HER)

The ruins of Kings Langley Palace stand on a hill near the Dominican Friary. A palace existed on the site as early as 1299 and remained crown property until given to the Duchess of York in 1469. All that now remains is a fragment of flint wall with brick quoins and part of the moulded brick jambs of a window.

Condition --- bad. Notes that extensive foundations are visible (TEHAS 1914).

Although no complete record of Kings Langley Royal Palace site has survived, the site ascribed to it by the OS is now known to be wrong. The building usually thought to have been the remains of the Palace, and known locally as King Johns' Bakehouse, is now considered to the the house of Sir Charles Morrison.

Some excavation and resistivity tests were carried out in August 1961 by Watford and S.W. Herts A.S

in the grounds of the New School (Priory House) The area to be excavated centred about a hard court at TL 06460254, was too extensive to be thoroughly dealt with in the time available but sufficient was done to indicate the position of some of the palace buildings and to reveal the exsistence of a ditch dating from the 2nd half of the 13th c. The complete demolition of the buildings in the western area together with burnt debris suggests that after the extensive fire of 1431 this part of the Palace was not rebuilt. Occupation continued in the eastern portion. Painted wall plaster and window glass found suggest buildings of some quality.

An earlier excavation in 1956 by Dr Fisher at TL 06450259 revealed a flint structure, possibly part of a large building, overlying two possible walls. A suggestion is that the lower structure represents part of the Palace destroyed in the 1431 fire and the upper was 'Verneys Lodging" built to house the Keeper of the Palace after 1487 and disappearing between 1556 and 1591 (Fisher).

There are no remains of Kings Langley Palace visible above ground and there is no doubt that the remains formerly so considered are the ruins of a probably Eliz. house - these are as described by V.C.H.

Considerable research by Dr Fisher of Kings Langley into the various surveys of the manor places the site of the Palace in the immediate vicinity of Priory House (New School) - TL 06520258, and the evidence of the 1956 and 1961 excavations tends to confirm this.

A probably C15th pillar base in the school gardens at TL 06500258 is thought by Dr Fisher to be alien to the site and brought in by the builders of the house as a sundial (F1 CFW 17-JUL-1962).

Further excavations in 1970 by D Neal, at TL 065026, revealed the wine cellar possibly built by Martin of Ray in 1291-92, which has how been completely destroyed.

Report of 1970 excavations.

The palace site is now occupied by the New School, the boundaries of which reflect those of the Medieval period. The norther boundary wall was built over the S wall of the Old Prory Church, (see TL 00 SE 4), and this boundary is little different from that of Medieval times. The wine cellar revealed by the excavations formed the W side of a courtyard, believed to tbe a kitchen court, and apparently enclosed on all sides. On the E side were traces of a probable kitchen and bakehouse, on the S side and E-W range of which only the N wall was found, and on the N side a wall, probably the N wall of a range of rooms. The remains were poorly preserved, and the buildings were probably of early 14th century date (Neal 1973).

Report of 1974-6 excavations (Neal 1977). A long range, probably the range known as 'le Langrewe', built about 1310, was found, probably forming the S side of the 'Court Wick'. This range was about 100.0m long and 5.0m wide and remained standing until 1554.

Remains of a well house of late 13th century date were found in the vicinity of the kitchen range.

It is now known that the palace had three courts. The outer courtyard was known as the Court Wick and separated the palace from the priory to the N. A gatehouse stood on the Langley Hill (east) side. The middle court was probably the Great Court.

This court has not been excavated and the location of the buildings is now known, but it is likely to have contained the chapel and the Great Hall. The inner court was the kitchen court.

Kings Langley Royal Gardens. Queen Eleanor of Castille leased Kings Langley from the Earl of Cornwall in 1279, and spent two years developing a garden with fruit trees and vines. Gardeners from Aragon were employed, and rewarded with a gift of two pounds on their return to Aragon in 1290. A lead trough for keeping pike is mentioned in 1292, and a gardener's house in 1297 (Harvey 1981).

Kings Langley manor was extant in the reign of Edward I when Eleanor of Castile held it of the Duke of Cornwall. A stone wall enclosed a courtyard and contained the chambers and chapel. The young Prince Edward, later King Edward II spent much of his youth there. In Edward IIs reign there were three courts. Edward III spent lavishly on the buildings, including a striking clock in the belfry of the adjacent parish church. Under the Tudor Kings the manor became the dower of a succession of consorts, and the buildings were allowed to decay (HKW). (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL064025
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  • Keevill, Graham D., 2000, Medieval Palaces, An Archaeology (Stroud; Tempus) p. 14
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 176, 178, 186, 256-7 Google preview
  • Stearne, John, 1998, The archaeology of the medieval English monarchy (Routledge) p. 86
  • Thurley, Simon, 1993, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England (Yale University Press) p. 10, 56, 60, 69
  • James, T.B., 1990, The Palaces of Medieval England (London; Seaby)
  • Colvin, H.M., 1986, 'Royal Gardens in Medieval England' in Elisabeth MacDougall (ed) Medieval Gardens (Washington D.C.) p. 9
  • Harvey, John, 1981, Medieval Gardens (Batsford) p. 78, 84, 112, 114
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 970-7
  • Munby, L.M. (ed), 1963, The History of Kings Langley by the Members of the Local History Group of Kings Langley Workers' Educational Association (Kings Langley)
  • RCHME, 1910, An inventory of the historical monuments in Hertfordshire (London: HMSO) p. 135 online transcription
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1908, VCH Hertfordshire Vol. 2 p. 235-8 online transcription



  • Neal, D.S., 1977, 'Excavations at the palace of King's Langley, Hertfordshire' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 124-65 download copy
  • Neal, D.S., 1973, 'Excavation at the palace and priory of King's Langley' Hertfordshire Archaeology Vol. 3 p. 31-72
  • 1971, 'King's Langley: The Palace' East Hertfordshire Archaeological Society newsletter Vol. 29 p. 3
  • Fisher, Dr R., 1961, 'Emergency excavations at Kings Langley Palace' Watford & SW Hertfordshire Archaeological Society Bulletin Vol. 18 p. 3-4
  • Fisher, Dr R., 1956, 'Excavation at Kings Langley Priory' Watford & SW Hertfordshire Archaeological Society Bulletin Vol. 6 p. 3-4
  • 1914, 'East Hertfordshire Archaeological Society - Forty-ninth excursion: : Visiting Kings Langley Church; Little London Priory; the Palace; and the Manor House and French's and Pale Farms at Chipperfield' Transactions of the East Hertfordshire Archaeological Society Vol. 5.3 p. 306

Primary Sources

  • DL44/472 (Survey of 33 Elizabeth) The National Archives reference
  • PRO, 1964, Calendar of Liberate Rolls Henry III (1267-1272) with Appendices 1220-1267 Vol. 6 (London: HMSO) p. 224