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Westbury Bishops Palace

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Westbury.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST49964877
Latitude 51.23589° Longitude -2.71822°

Westbury Bishops Palace has been described as a probable Palace.

There are no visible remains.


According to Nott, the bishops of Bath and Wells kept a manor house at Westbury-sub-Mendip, a Domesday possession of the see."' This house was apparently situated on the site of the early nineteenth century Court House Farm (ST 499 487), just to the north east of the church of Saint Lawrence. The 1838 tithe map for Westbury identifies the plot immediately to the north of the churchyard, adjacent to Court House Farm to the east, as "Court Orchard." The episcopal deer park was located to the south of Court Farm, although confusingly there is another Court House Farm within the park boundaries presented by Nott. Also within the park boundary is Lodge Hill, a name implying that a park lodge was at some point positioned at an effective vantage point to look out over the deer park. An earthwork building platform at ST 492 481 has been identified as the possible site of this lodge. The deer park at Westbury was in existence by 1178, as a bull of Pope Alexander III to Bishop Reginald of Bath confirmed the possessions of the church of Bath in that year, including "Westbury with its park." John Drokensford's signed seven entries in his register at Westbury, including one "in the manor house hall." Again however, it seems likely that the manor house at Westbury was a building of minor importance that was used for the meetings of the manorial court, rather than a residence used for accommodation purposes by the bishop. (Payne 2005)

According to documentary sources the bishops of Bath and Wells had a manor house at Westbury. The likely site is to the N of the church at Court House Farm (see PRN 22005), although it may have lain in the park (PRN 24861) (Payne, 1999) The vicarage at Westbury was reorganised during the episcopate of Robert Burnell (1274-92) when the vicar was awarded a curtilage containing a dovecote "opposite the bishop's court house" and Bruton priory were to construct a hall and chamber for the vicar on the plot. A resistively survey in 2005 (PRN 27955) located an anomaly that might be caused by a circular dovecote at c. ST 5000 4880 (Lane). (Somerset HER)

Gatehouse feels the presence of a deer park does suggest residential use as hunting was a day-long and tiring business, and a dovecot would seem a needless addition to a pure court. However the palace at Wookey was only a couple of miles away and Wells itself only a mile or so further. When the bishop was entertaining high status visitors, including, on occasions, royalty then he would have need considerable ancillary accommodation.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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