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Odiham Palace(s)

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Priory

In the civil parish of Odiham.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU73825108
Latitude 51.25403° Longitude -0.94387°

Odiham Palace(s) has been described as a probable Palace.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


Before the Conquest ODIHAM was held by Harold, and in 1086 it was a royal manor. It would appear possible from the Domesday entry that there was at that time a royal residence there. The manor had more than doubled in value, and there was a large and evidently prosperous community of tenants, such as might be found at a manor in which was a royal residence. It would seem that Henry I had a residence here which he visited in 1116, and upon which repairs were made in 1130. The castle, however, of which the ruins now remain, was built by King John on a new site. (VCH)

"A palace is said to have existed at Odiham, and it is possible that a house for the accommodation of the royal household may have been built after the castle (SU 75 SW 11) had fallen into ruins. Nothing now remains of the ancient palace except a few old stones with carved heads in a farm-house called Palace Gate Farm.... The house probably stands on the site of the entrance to the mansion which is described in 1630 as 'a fair gatehouse of brick, cornered and windowed with stone' (S P Dom Chas 1 clxxxi 16) Meetings of the Privy Council were held at Odiham in 1576 and 1591 (Acts of P C 1575-7 207 1591 457).
The site of the manor, by which is probably meant the remains of the royal mansion, is mentioned in deeds of 1718 and 1723-4 (Feet of F Div Co Hil 4 Geo 1 Mich 10 Geo 1)."
The house mis-called The Priory was formerly the Rectory. The main block is Queen Anne, of red brick and stone. The Older portion, dating from the middle of the 15th century, is a wing built of stone, running N-S, and apparently consisting formerly of a single large hall, c 82' x 13' with a fireplace a little S. of the middle of the E. side. It had two floors, lit by a range of windows with cinquefoiled pointed lights under square heads, and a 4-centred arched doorway at its N. end. The building fell into decay and the northern end is still ruinous; the rest has been converted into a study, bedrooms etc. (VCH)
The royal palace, built during the 15th & 16th centuries; was probably a series of substantial dwellings, enclosed by a wall, extending over the area now occupied by Palace Gate Farm, the vicarage and the Priory. Apart from the old wing of "The Priory", traces of the Palace above ground are very meagre, but an extensive series of interconnected, vaulted cellars is known to exist.
The palace may have been destroyed during the Civil War, when as many as 5000 troops were quartered in the town at one time ('Vistors Guide to Odiham').
"The three properties - 'The Priory, The Vicarage and Palace Gate Farm - incorporate the remains of previous buildings. At 'The Priory' the remains are of a stone-built hall presumably the original house. At the Vicarage and Farm they are parts of timber framed buildings of the 16/17th centuries with much reused brick. In my opinion, a mansion existed at the Priory which, though a royal residence was hardly a palace, with probably other buildings extending east to the Farm. There is no evidence for a gatehouse at the Farm and the 'few old carved heads' (V.C.H.) are modern". (F1 WCW 26-JUN-56)
Forming a wing of the house called 'The Priory' are the remains of a stone-built building of 15th c. date. Where it is a ruin, though overgrown internally, it is well-preserved, and the remainder is incorporated into the present house which is largely in Queen Anne style. The original building appears to have been substantial and is most likely to have been the royal residence traditionally known as the palace; it is erroneously described on the O.S. 25" as "Chapel".
The Vicarage contains some timber framing and 16/17th century brick. A farm building at Palace Gate Farm is timber framed, though much restored and a barn is built largely of 16/17th century brick. As stated by Mr. Thomas the carved heads which are let into the wall of a building at the farm entrance are modern.
A row of large trees in the farm is called "The Avenue" but has no apparent significance. The wall published on O.S. 6" 1932 contains much 16/17th century brick but is merely a boundary wall.
In short, the remnants of buildings at the Vicarage and Farm are probably the out-buildings to a mansion at the Priory.
No evidence of "Interconnected cellars" was gained apart from the normal local traditions of tunnels (F2 WCW 26-JUN-56).
SU 737511. The eastern wing of the Priory is a 15th century stone hall with features noted elsewhere in domestic buildings of the later Middle Ages, particularly in priests' houses. For several centuries this building was the rectory house of a large parish provided also with a vicarage, a rare arrangement (Meirion-Jones).

C15, C16, C18, late C19. A house of many parts and periods. East wing: formerly an open roofed hall mainly C15, a north-south range of 2 storeys, the southern part restored and integrated with the house. Red tile roof, missing above the ruined northern section. Walling is in malmstone, mixed with flint and in part roughly rendered, with stone dressings, a diagonal stepped buttress at the south-east corner and a fragment of a buttress at the north-west. There are single and coupled lights, with cusped heads, within rectangular frames with indented spandrels, stone jambs and mullions: these have diagonal leaded lights under the roofed part. A C15 doorway at the north end and 2 similar doorways on the west side, all with pointed arches. The 'Gothick' restoration features include a pointed arched doorway at the south side and next to it a 3-light wooden window above a 3-light mullioned and transomed window both with pointed lights. An attached chimney breast has a later top, with stone dressings, end- ing in coupled brick octagonal Tudor-style flues, another stack is missing its top. The 2-storeyed Tudor brick porch projects at the west end, being linked to the east wing by the rear part of the C18 work. The front has a gable above a (restored) brick oriel, a small recessed panel, and a 4-centred arch set within a rectangular frame. The two outer corners have octagonal buttresses with small pointed tops, a moulding at the top and intermediately, and a high plinth. The red tile roof merges into the later part: the walls are red brick English bond. South front: C18. A symmetrical facade of 2 storeys and attic, 7 windows. Slate roof. Large tapering chimney stacks to each end gable, 4 flat roofed dormers with casements, simple moulded cornices, fully-moulded modillion cornice, returned at ends. Red brick walling, Flemish bond, with rubbed flat arches, narrow 1st floor band, stone cills, high plinth. Sashes in exposed frames. Central French door with semicircular fanlight above. The south-east corner of the building is a 2 storeyed block of the late C19, with tile-hung upper walls, a 2 storeyed bay with coupled sashes and narrow side windows, on the east elevation a projecting bay on brackets (with a hipped roof) above a ground-floor sash window. The rear part of the main block has a 3-gabled form and more modern units extend northwards from 2 of them,one (with hipped roof) linking to the east wing, the other a short gabled wing on the west side replacing a larger Victorian wing demolished recently. (Listed Building Report)

Near the church there is an area called The Bury. This name is often taken to be derived from an early royal enclosure and some towns in Wessex are thought to have elements within their plans that may represent the area of the royal enclosure (Hase 1994, 58). (Hopkins 2004)

There seem to have been three royal residences at Odiham, a C12 palace, of which nothing remains; The Castle built by King John and building of C15 date used until the Civil War. The third of these was a large complex of buildings 250m north-west of the parish church at the given map reference. The palace of Henry I may have also been at this location and the later site may represent a continuity of use of this site as auxiliary accommodation to the castle. However, a place-name 'The Bury' east of the church might be suggestive of the location of Harold private burh which could have continued in use post-Conquest.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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