Horncastle Bishops Palace

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are no visible remains

NameHorncastle Bishops Palace
Alternative NamesManor House
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishHorncastle

The manor of Horncastle was sold by Ralph de Rhodes to Walter Mauclerk, the third Bishop of Carlisle, to whom it was confirmed by Henry III. in 1229-30. Horncastle had once been a Roman station, and the bishop's manor-house stood at the north-west corner of the square of the old camp. An eighteenth-century plan represents the old house as a long building with two gables on the south side, and a double-gabled dormer window above the door. This old house was demolished about 1770.

The bishops made most use of the house during the fourteenth century. Bishop Ross lived at Horncastle in 1331, when Rose Castle was an impossible place of residence; and again in the reign of Richard II. the state of the border drove the bishops southwards.

In the sixteenth century Horncastle passed out of the bishop's hands for a time, as it was sold in January 1553 to Edward, Lord Clinton. But it was recovered for the see early in the reign of Mary ; and Bishop Aldridge died at the manor-house of Horncastle in 1555. This seems to be the last evidence that the bishops inhabited it. They granted leases of the house to Queen Elizabeth, and then to James I.; and when Horncastle was the basis of the attack on Bolingbroke Castle before the fight at Winceby, no mention is made of the bishop's house. Although it belonged to the see much later, the house was abandoned as an episcopal residence. (Niemeyer 1911)

A Lincolnshire County Council guide suggests that the Georgian manor house stands on the site of the fourteenth century parsonage house. This medieval building was sometimes occupied by the Bishops of Carlisle, formally the Lords of the manor of Horncastle. (Lincolnshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Seems a bit out of the way to be a stop over for the bishops travelling from Carlisle to the royal court or parliaments at Westminster although if some of that journey was done via east coast sailing routes and by river it is, perhaps, not so remote. The site occupied by a fine house of c. 1770.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTF257695
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  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 172
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 192
  • Wilson, J., 1912, Rose Castle, the Residential Seat of the Bishop of Carlisle (Carlisle: Charles Thumam and Sons) p. 15
  • Niemeyer, N., 1911, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 16 online copy
  • Walter, J.C., 1908, A History of Horncastle from the earliest period to the present time (Horncastle: W.K. Morton and Sons) p. 11-12 online transcription

Guide Books

  • Lincolnshire County Council, 1977, Horncastle Town Guide Walk 1 No. 1

Primary Sources

  • Charter Roll, 14 Henry III., pt. i, m. 12 3 Ed. I., 1274–5


  • 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)