Salisbury Bishops Palace and Cathedral Close

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSalisbury Bishops Palace and Cathedral Close
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWiltshire
Modern AuthorityWiltshire
1974 AuthorityWiltshire
Civil ParishSalisbury

Bishop's palace situated to the southeast of the Cathedral in The Close. It was established during the 1220s and crenallated during C14. The palace has undergone many phases of construction, alterations and repairs. It was restored during mid C15 and extended some time after 1568. A chapel is first documented in 1588. Parts of the palace were demolished post 1648, with the surviving elements being converted into an inn and tenements. However rebuilding took place during the 1660s with further additions taking place during later C17 and early C18. The palace was refurbished during late C18 with further additions constructed though out C19. Parts were demolished in 1931. Part of the palace was used by Bishop Wordsworth School in 1890. It has been used by the Cathedral School from 1947. (PastScape)

The bishop's place grew from his first residence called 'New Place' already established by 1219. (V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 165) The first simple building was added to and altered by succeeding bishops until it gained its present form of a series of irregular buildings running from east to west, the most striking feature being a late 15th- or early-16th-century tower with its decorated turret. A 15th-century bedchamber was converted into a chapel in the mid-16th century. (Braun 1958) Part of the original building survives in the vaulted undercroft known as Bishop Poore's Hall. This was restored by Bishop Wordsworth in 1889. (Wordsworth and Reeve 1891) During the Commonwealth the palace was let out by the corporation in tenements, one of which was kept as an inn by a Dutch tailor. After these depredations the house was completely restored by Bishop Seth Ward. The gardens were laid out and a lake formed in the mid-19th century, at which time the stables and an entrance lodge were added. In 1947 the Church Commissioners exchanged the palace with the dean and chapter for Mompesson House

The palace then became the premises of the Cathedral School, and the bishop moved his residence for a time to Mompesson House. (VCH 1962)

Gatehouse Comments

Close licensed in 1327 and palace licensed in 1337 and 1377.

- 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 ReferenceSU143294
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Smith, P.L., 2013, The Bishop's Palace at Salisbury (Reading: Spire Books)
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 627-9
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 18, 24, 37, 80-1, 90, 105, 129, 207, 218, 237, 256
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 167, 168, 184
  • RCHME, 1993, 'Houses in the Close' in Ancient and Historical Monuments in the City of Salisbury Vol. 2 (HMSO)
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2
  • RCHME, 1977, 'City defences' in Ancient and Historical Monuments in the City of Salisbury Vol. 1 (HMSO) p. 50-51 online transcription
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 plan p. 66 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London)
  • Rogers, J.H., 1969, 'Salisbury' in Lobel, M.D. (ed), Historic Towns: Maps and Plans of Towns and Cities in the British Isles, with Historical Commentaries, from Earliest Times to 1800 Vol. 1 (London: Lovell Johns-Cook, Hammond and Kell Organization) p. 1-9 online copy
  • Crittal, Eliz. (ed), 1962, 'Salisbury: The liberty of the close' VCH Wiltshire Vol. 6 p. 72-9 online transcription
  • Rugh, R.B. and Crittall, E. (eds), 1956, VCH Wiltshire Vol. 3 p. 165 online transcription
  • Morewood, Caroline C., 1910, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of Canterbury) (London; Constable & Co) p. 25-8 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 328, 408, 411 online copy



  • Richardson, Amanda, 2003, 'Corridors of power : a case study in access analysis from medieval England' Antiquity Vol. 77 p. 373-84
  • 1997, Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine Vol. 90 p. 156-7 (minor geophysical survey and excavation report)
  • Coulson, C., 1982, 'Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation: An Essay in the Sociology and Metaphysics of Medieval Fortification' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 69-100 see online copy
  • 1963, Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine Vol. 58 p. 452-3 (minor excavation report) online copy
  • Braun, H., 1958, 'Notes on Bishop's Palace' Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine Vol. 57 p. 405-7 online copy
  • Wordsworth, J., 1891, 'The Bishop's Palace at Salisbury' Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine Vol. 25 p. 165- online copy
  • Reeve, J.A., 1891, 'Notes on the Architectural History of the Palace' Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine Vol. 25 p. 181-89 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 159 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1334-38) Vol. 3 p. 498 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1377-81) Vol. 1 p. 9, 10 online copy


  • Wiltshire Council, 2009, Extensive Urban Survey - Wiltshire (Wiltshire Council, English Heritage) Download copy
  • Cave-Penney, Helena, 2004, The Archaeology of Wiltshire's Towns An Extensive Urban Survey Salisbury (Wiltshire County Archaeology Service) online copy
  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) p. 182-87 (available via EThOS)