Lichfield Cathedral Close and Bishop Palace

Has been described as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Questionable Palace (Bishop), and also as a Certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry footings remains

NameLichfield Cathedral Close and Bishop Palace
Alternative Names
Historic CountryStaffordshire
Modern AuthorityStaffordshire
1974 AuthorityStaffordshire
Civil ParishLichfield

St Mary's Vicarage, built in 1710 incorporates the remains of C13 to C14 defensive close wall and tower built by Bishop Walter de Langton, forming its eastern and southern sides. The close was licensed in 1299, 1348 and 1523. Other parts of the Close defences remain. Medieval bishop's palace first documented in 1295, destroyed during the Civil War.

Gatehouse Comments

Thompson writes "Bishop Langton received, in 1306, a licence to crenellate Beaudesert, Staffs and Ashby, Northants and all episocopal palaces in England." This must include Lichfield and Coventry but probably not Chester. Possible site of Lichfield Castle. Grants of pavage for Lichfield city, in 1306 (for 7 years) and 1312 (for another 7 years) were specifically used for 'enclosing, with a stone wall, the houses of himself and the canons within the precinct of the cathedral church.' The Close was called a castle in 1317.

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceSK115099
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 409-11
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 167, 173
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 32-3
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 228-9
  • Tringham, N., 1993, 'The palace of Bishop Walter Langton in Lichfield cathedral close' in Maddison, J. (ed) Medieval Archaeology and Architecture in Lichfield (Maney Publishing for the British Archaeological Association)
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 61
  • Greenslade, M.W. (ed), 1990, VCH Staffordshire Vol. 14 p. 3, 11, 16, 57-67, 103, 152, 217, 220
  • Drury, P., 1987, The Capitular Estate of Dean and Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 454
  • Pevsner, N., 1974, Buildings of England: Staffordshire (London, Penguin) p. 187-8
  • Greenslade, M.W. (ed), 1970, VCH Staffordshire Vol. 3 p. 22-3, 150, 159 online transcription
  • Morewood, Caroline C., 1910, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of Canterbury) (London; Constable & Co) p. 11-13 online copy
  • Lynam, Charles, 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm. (ed), VCH Staffordshire Vol. 1 p. 370-1 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 404, 405 online copy
  • Shaw, Stebbing, 1798, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire (J.Nichols abd Son) (Republished 1976 by EP Publishing) Vol. 1 p. 234-


  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
  • 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. 439, 443
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 100-102 online copy
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription


  • 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
  • Beresford, W., The Reliquary Vol. 7 p. 249

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1292-1301) Vol. 3 p. 408, 409; (1301-7) p. 462; (1348-50) p. 56 (licences to crenellate) (1301-1307) p. 463; (1307-1313) p. 440-1 (grants of pavage to be used for wall) Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls online copies via University of Iowa LibrariesBrewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3.2 p. 1316 No. 3146.20 [online copy >]


  • Blockley. K., 2009, Cathedral School Lichfield Staffordshire: Archaeological Watching Brief (Cambrian Archaeological Projects Ltd) 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)