Otley Archbishop Palace

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are no visible remains

NameOtley Archbishop Palace
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityLeeds
1974 AuthorityWest Yorkshire
Civil ParishOtley

Episcopal palace of the Archbishops of York at Otley. Kitchens were added c. 1415 and it was occupied until 1606 Completely ruined by the time of the Civil War. It was moated. "The foundations remained until about 1780 when the existing manor-house, at the bottom of Kirkgate, was built on the site (Speight). The traditional and natural site of the espiscopal palace is the summit of the hill at SE 2007 4567. This position could also, be more easily reconciled with Speight's reference to the palace as a "moated mansion" (F1 RWE 28-FEB-61). The surface of the ground in this area is hummocky, though no building foundations are visible. The site is on a natural eminence. Possible remains of a moat comprise an unidentified, earthen bank to the west of the site, and the scarp of the entrance drive to the Manor House in the east. The bank extends from SE 2005 4558 to SE 2001 4564, and has an average height of 1.2m. Traces of the ditch are apparent on the western side. Approach to the palace was probably by a terraced way along the top of the river bank from the southern end of Otley Bridge (SE 2015 4581). The Manor House shows no evidence of reutilized material (F2 RL 04-JUL-63). The site of the old hall, Otley, was excavated by the Otley Archaeological and Historical Society. Remains of walling suggested that an early building, perhaps of 1300, had been demolished and replaced in the 15th century, perhaps by Archbishop Bowett (1406-1423) (Med. Arch, 1964). Excavation of the N wing of the archbishop's manor house by H E Jean Le Patourel for the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and M P B W revealed a first-floor hall with attached chamber, c.130ft by 24ft, mainly of the early 14th century. It had central timber roof supports and a turret stair. Below was a middle 12th century hall of similar dimensions but with large stone central roof supports. Hearths were found only in the chamber (Med. Arch., 1969)

A stone built wing of the palace, 145ft x 28ft, had a chapel of three periods at its east end. The building shows Saxon and Norman characteristics which in the early 13th century developed into a chapel of two storeys with a vaulted undercroft. Later it reverted to a single-storey building. A new type of Saxo-Norman pottery, associated with an earlier timber structure, was identified and named Otley Ware (YAJ, 1970). (PastScape)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSE200456
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  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 188
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 301-3
  • Niemeyer, N., 1911, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 5-6 online copy
  • Speight, H., 1900, Upper Wharfdale (London: Elliot Stock) p. 48-9 online copy



  • Le Patourel, J. and Wood, P., 1973, 'Excavations of the Archbishop of York's manor house at Otley' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 45 p. 115-41
  • 1970, ' Medieval Britain in 1969' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 173 online copy
  • 1970, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 42 p. 393
  • 1969, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 41 p. 245
  • 1969, CBA Forum (newsletter for CBA Yorkshire) p. 13
  • 1969, ' Medieval Britain in 1968' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 274 online copy
  • 1964, ' Medieval Britain in 1962 and 1963' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 275-6 online copy


  • 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)