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Rochester Bishops Palace

In the civil parish of Rochester.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Medway.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ74216847
Latitude 51.38853° Longitude 0.50239°

Rochester Bishops Palace has been described as a certain Palace.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


During excavations by the Prior's Gate house north east of the Bishops Palace, a section of Roman Rampart and wall were found. A substantial Norman building was also revealed dating to earlier than c.1150. The east wing of the Palace and various medieval and post medieval structures were also found. Finds included several Roman, Anglo Saxon and medieval coins, medieval tiles and much pottery and small finds from all periods. (Kent HER)

On the eastern side of them, and adjoining the Prior's Gate, formerly stood an ancient edifice, which was evidently a portion of the monastic buildings: this was for many years used as the King's or Cathedral Grammar School, the last occupant being the Rev. Daniel F. Warner, the Head Master. The building was demolished about forty years ago, and the stone framework of one of the ancient fire-places was built into a modern eastern wall near the Prior's Gate, where it still remains. Mr. Denne, in The Kentish Traveller's Companion, above quoted, writes: "In the west quarter of the Palace Precincts were the Bishop's Court for the trial of civil causes, and a prison. No debtors have been confined in it for upwards of forty years (i.e., circa 1750), the practice of the court not being sufficient to defray the expenses of supporting the jurisdiction. In what used to be the gaoler's garden the late Bishop Pearce in the year 1760 erected a Register Office." (Rye, 1887)

At the SOUTH WEST corner of the precincts of the cathedral, bishop Gundulph separated a portion of ground for an habitation for himself and his successors; and though there is no particular mention of a palace for near eighty years after his death, yet there is the strongest reason to think he built himself one here at the time he re edified the church and priory, with the offices belonging to it, when he separated his own maintenance from that of the monks, and lived no longer in common with them, as one family. Bishop Gilbert de Glanvill, who came to the see in 1185, is recorded to have rebuilt all that had been burned down of this palace by one of those dreadful fires which laid waste the greatest part of this city. What situation it remained in till the time of bishop Lowe I have not discovered; but he seems to have rebuilt it, one of his instruments being dated from his new palace at Rochester, in the year 1459. But whether the building was not so substantial as it ought to have been, or that the six succeeding bishops being translated to better sees, the repair of it was neglected; it appears to have been but a cold and uncomfortable habitation when bishop Fisher resided here, in 1524; for Erasmus of Rotterdam, in his letter to him that year, complains of the bishop's want of attention to his health, by residing at this house, and adds, that his library here was composed of such thin walls, that the air came in through the crevices of them; that it was neither wainscotted nor floored with wood, having only a brick pavement. (Hasted)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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