Winchester Royal Palace(s), Winchester

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Royal)

There are no visible remains

NameWinchester Royal Palace(s), Winchester
Alternative NamesWintoniae
Historic CountryHampshire and the Isle of Wight
Modern AuthorityHampshire (City of Winchester)
1974 AuthorityHampshire
Civil ParishWinchester

The great feudal gatherings at Winchester in pre- and immediately post-Conquest times were probably held at the great hall of the palace of the West Saxon Kings. No details of this building or its site are known but it proved inadequate for the needs of the Conqueror in his regular visitations to the city and in about 1070 he built a new hall and palace on either a new or extended site to the NW of the Cathedral on the south side of the High Street. This palace was destroyed in 1140 by Matilda and never rebuilt: in 1150 the site was assigned to the parish of St. Lawrence (HKW).

Local tradition has it that a supposed Norman pilaster bedded in the wall of a passage adjoining St. Lawrence's Church is the only remaining trace of William's palace (VCH).

References to Norman foundations, in one place overlaying the brickwork, possible remains of Williams palace at (i) No 32. The Square (Cadena Cafe) (ii) in the archway between The Square and the High Street (iii) beneath 20-21, The Square and (iv) in the cellars of the City Museum. Milner also notes foundations of a massive tower in the square south of market Street but this might be a reference to the finding of the tower of the Newminster.

Apart from a small fragment of undated walling in the cellars of the City Museum, the Norman pilaster in the wall of St. Lawrence's Church and a firebreast of reused material in a dress shop at SU 48092947 there are no remains of the palace (F1 FGA 21-APR-68).

William the Conqueror enlarged the royal palace towards High Street by taking in the western part of the New Minster precinct and a number of houses in High Street. He also closed a street where his kitchen was built, which appears to have been at the E. end of the palace site and previously had probably been the main public way from the High Street to the Old and New Minsters. As a result of this closure a new way leading to the minsters and the royal palace was created some yards to the E

through Thomasegate, on the line of the modern Market Street. (Keene 1990)

Gatehouse Comments

It seems William I built a castle on the west edge of the town, possible as soon as 1067, and also rebuilt a palace within the town in 1070, with a great hall capable of holding the great feudal gatherings. The older Saxon palace may have just been too small for use or it may have been the residence of Queen Edith, Edward the Confessors widow who, despite being the sister of Harold Godwinson, was well treated and respected by William, making the palace not easily available for William's use. The palace was superseded by the castle by the early C12 and the site became the town markets by the C14. This was not the same, nor on the same site, as the C17 palace King's House.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU481294
Latitude51.0621910095215
Longitude-1.31456005573273
Eastings448130
Northings129430
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Books

  • Keene, Derek, 1990, Winchester studies 2. Survey of medieval Winchester (Oxford University Press) p. 573-5 online preview copy
  • Biddle, Martin and Barlow, Frank, 1976, Winchester studies 1. Winchester in the Early Middle Ages (Clarendon Press) p. 289-302
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 347-8
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 1: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 42-3
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1912, VCH Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Vol. 5 p. 6 online transcription
  • Milner, 1798, History and Survey of the Antiquities of Winchester (Winchester) Vol. 2 p. 185 online copy

Journals

  • Biddle, M., 1969, 'Winchester 1961-68' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 4 p. 19-30
  • Biddle, M. and Quirk, R.N., 1964, 'Excavations near Winchester Cathedral, 1961' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 119 p. 150-94 online copy
  • 1964, 'Medieval Britain in 1962 and 1963' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 233-4 online copy
  • Quirk, R.N., 1961, 'Winchester New Minster and Its Tenth Century Tower. Anglo - Saxon Monastery' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 24 p. 51