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Clarendon Palace

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Clarendon Park.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU18193023
Latitude 51.07067° Longitude -1.74183°

Clarendon Palace has been described as a certain Palace.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Medieval manor and hunting lodge which was established during C12 as a Royal Palace. It was expanded during early C13 and comprised an irregular layout of buildings arranged around a courtyard. Rebuilding took place during mid C15but it became a lesser royal palace by late C16. Clarendon Palace was described as a lodge in 1574. Excavations in 1821 located the layout of the palace, further excavations have taken place during C20. Field investigations in 1973 found the palace buildings to extend over an area roughly 240m northeast-southwest by 80m, situated within a sub-rectangular enclosure formed either by a wall, or a bank which survives to a height of 1.2m. Both a bank and surmounting wall remain on the southeast side. Many of the buildings survive as footings exposed during excavation, but the east end of the Great Hall remains to a height of 5m. (PastScape)

Clarendon was established as a royal palace during the 12th century with Henry II primarily responsible for its transition from a hunting lodge. New additions, of a mid-12th century date, include the king's quarters, 'La Roche' wine cellar, All Saints Chapel and the Great Hall. By the early 13th century further extensive expansion took place instigated by Henry III. This included the construction of King's Chapel and the Antioch chamber under the supervision of Elias de Dereham (1236) who was also responsible for the construction of Salisbury Cathedral. Stained glass windows in the chapel closely resembled those found at Salisbury Cathedral. The layout of the palace was not formal, with unaligned buildings situated around courtyards. Many of the buildings were constructed of dressed flint; Chilmark and Caen stone were also used. The external wall were often limewashed. The interior decor was often lavish with plaster tinted blue by the inclusion of lapis lazuli thought to come from Afganistan, and the use of Purbeck marble for pillars. Several tile pavements were used; one circular pavement present in King's Chapel used tiles from one of the Clarendon kilns. A survey of 1272-3 showed the palace to be in a state of disrepair and included fire damage, a series of repairs was carried out. Another survey dated 1315, showed the buildings again to be in a bad state of repair. The last phase of major rebuilding took place in the mid-15th century, but was followed by a decline by the number of royal visits that were made to Clarendon; the last recorded visit took place in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I, when all that appeared to remain of the palace was a 'lodge'. It is during this period that Clarendon changed from a palace to a place of a more local significance, with the prominence of the prison, first recorded in the 13th century, the most obvious manifestation of this. A survey of 1650 refers to the old Gatehouse as the Kings Manor. Archaeological evidence supports continued occupation within the area of the western entrance continuing into the 17th century. Excavations carried out in 1821 revealed the general outline for the palace but damaged any straitigraphical relationships between the walls and floor levels. Excavations also took place 1933-39, 1957, and 1964-5. These located Roman pottery, coins and a fragment of box tile. These are probably residual, representing Roman occupation within the vicinity. Earlier Medieval structures were noted but not fully investigated, these were present within the area of the 12th century Great Hall and Great Courtyard. There is documentary evidence of an 'Old Hall' situated south of the site; the structure situated within the correct siting is known to be 13th century but has not yet been investigated to see whether it incorporates or overlays earlier elements. The ceramic assemblage is mid-late 13th century, perhaps continuing into the 14th century. Almost all are products of the Laverstock Kilns. These kilns developed as a result of the demands of the palace. The absence of later wares when there is documentary evidence of occupation 1300-1500 may be explained by the removal of debris which took place, during one of the periods of rebuilding, or that the main areas of later activities has not yet been investigated. (PastScape–ref. James 1988 and 1990).

Remains of the 13th century Royal Palace of Clarendon. The masonry and stonework is in a deteriorating state following excavations in the 1930's and 1960's. The trenches were not backfilled, leaving masonry vulnerable to weathering and frost damage. Historic England are currently working on a partnership project with the estate and other stakeholders to implement various conservation measures. (2016 Heritage at Risk Register)

Vastly important archaeological excavations with some remains now on display in the British Museum. That the excavations were not backfilled and that now puts the remains at risk is rather shameful. Archaeology, by it's nature can be destructive and that destruction is only justified if the results of the excavations are published and the excavation is done with care to minimise damage.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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