Howden Palace

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHowden Palace
Alternative NamesHoveden
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityEast Riding of Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityHumberside
Civil ParishHowden

Hall of the manor of the Bishops of Durham. 1388-1405 incorporating earlier work, for Bishop Skirlaugh. Alterations of the C16, C18 and C20. Magnesian limestone ashlar and rubble, brick, Welsh slate roof. Formerly an open hall and screens passage with entrance porch to north-west, now subdivided into rooms with inserted first floor. North facade: 2 storeys, 7 first-floor windows, with porch breaking forward to right. Main range: blind bay in brick to left. Moulded plinth to all other bays. C20 six-fielded-panel door beneath divided overlight with brackets holding cornice. 16-pane sash to left, otherwise sashes with glazing bars throughout. First-floor band and band over first-floor windows. Hipped roof. Ridge stack and stacks rising through side pitches of roof. Porch: stepped chamfered plinth and wide round archway with flat-headed 2-light cinque-cusped window above. Projecting embattled parapet with central niche surmounted by a pair of dogs and containing figure holding shield. West facade: tripartite sash with glazing bars to left and 5 blocked arched openings from former screens passage to right. Sashes with glazing bars to first floor and small Yorkshire sashes to attic. South facade: to left a C20 door in medieval pointed doorway of 2 moulded orders. C20 6-fielded-panel door to third bay, otherwise sashes with glazing bars throughout except for 16-pane sash to fourth bay. East facade: position of brick fireplace clearly visible to left of first floor with blocked window to right. Interior: evidence for an earlier rubble-built hall may be observed in the east wall with its tall blocked arch of uncertain function, and the stone foundations of a bench against it, probably the dais at the high end of the hall

Skirlaugh's work includes the porch with its embossed quadripartite vaulting, the axial doorway at the south end of the screens passage, the inserted doorway on the north wall of the north-east room, formerly leading to a staircase tower, and the tall windows whose jambs and springers may be seen in the south wall. The floor levels are C16. The current window positions are C18 although all windows are replacements. Several Georgian and Victorian fireplaces survive. The closed-string, turned baluster staircase is almost entirely a replica, the C17 original having been destroyed by fire. (Listed Building Report)

Remains of the medieval residence of the Bishops of Durham. The site was granted to the bishops in 1086 and held by them until late C16. The medieval layout comprised ranges of buildings set around an irregular courtyard. The north range contained the gate; the east the bishops' lodgings, chapel, oratory, chambers and guest rooms and the south the great hall, service rooms, kitchen and a second gate. The majority of the buildings were demolished in late C16 but part of the courtyard wall, the great hall, the southern gateway and two further medieval buildings survive. The great hall and porch were built by Bishop Skirlaw between 1388 and 1405 on the site of an earlier aisled hall. Bishop Skirlaw's hall was a tall, single storey building entered through a two storey, vaulted porch. The hall was floored in late C16, further altered in C18/early C19 and restored in 1983-5. The medieval moat and fishpond survive as landscaped earthworks in a park. (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceSE748281
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Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 190
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  • Williams, Alison, 1996, 'Castles and moated sites' in Neave, Susan and Ellis, Stephen, An Historical Atlas of East Yorkshire (University of Hull Press) p. 32-3
  • Neave, Susan, 1991, Medieval Parks of East Yorkshire (Univeristy of Hull) p. 38-9
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  • Niemeyer, N., 1911, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 9 online copy
  • Clark, T., 1850, History of the church, parish, and manor, of Howden p. 52


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 538
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  • Whitwell, J.B., 1984, 'The Bishop of Durham's Manor House at Howden' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 141
  • Bilson, J., 1915, 'The manor house of the bishops of Durham at Howden' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 22 p. 256-69
  • Hutchinson, W., 1886, 'The ancient manor house of the bishops of Durham at Howden, Yorkshire' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 9 p. 384-93 online copy
  • 1885, The Antiquary Vol. 12 p. 176-7
  • Raine, J., 1866, 'on the Episcopal Palace at Howden' Yorkshire Architectural Society Vol. 8 p. 295-

Guide Books

  • 1984-5, The Bishop of Durham's manor house of Howden (Archaeological Unit Info Sheet no. 2)


  • 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)
  • Kelly, N., 2001, Report on the Archaeological Recording and Analysis of the Bishops Manorial Hall Building at Howden (University of Leicester MA Thesis)
  • Kelly, N., 2000, Geophysical (Resistivity) Surveys of the Environs of The Howden Bishop's Manor Complex in the East Riding of Yorkshire (Pontefract and District Archaeological Society)