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Dorchester Bishops Court

In the civil parish of Dorchester.
In the historic county of Oxfordshire.
Modern Authority of Oxfordshire.
1974 county of Oxfordshire.
Medieval County of Oxfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU57519461
Latitude 51.64710° Longitude -1.16960°

Dorchester Bishops Court has been described as a probable Palace.

There are no visible remains.

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


Farmhouse. C16/C17, remodelled and extended early C19. Rendered walls, partly over timber framing, and some brick; old plain-tile roof with brick stacks. L-plan, extended. 2 storeys plus attics. Symmetrical 3-window early-C19 rendered front has central 6-panel door, with ornamental overlight, and 16-pane sashes. A delicate wrought-iron verandah runs across the front. The steep-pitched hipped roof returns to right, and the end wall has leaded casements and a 5-canted bay window with wooden pilaster mullions and crenellation. An entrance canopy, further to the rear has similar decoration. Earlier range, parallel to front range, has a half-hipped gable to left and a clustered ridge stack. Interior not inspected but noted as containing remains of an L-shaped timber-framed house, possibly dating from a rebuilding recorded in 1552. Reputed to be on site of Bishop's Palace, destroyed at Reformation. (Listed Building Report)

The bisshop's palace, as it saide ther, was at the toune's end by north west, wher it appere fundations of old buildinges: and there as yet be kept the courtes. (Leland)

The Bishop of Lincoln's great estate of Dorchester, assessed at 90 hides in Domesday Book, represented a part of the ancient endowments of the see of Dorchester which had been transferred to Lincoln. Of this Domesday estate 59 hides and 3 virgates were the bishop's demesne, the remainder was held by under-tenants. The bishop's demesne and the subinfeudated parts of the estate were almost as extensive as Dorchester hundred and included as well land at Baldon and Little Milton which was outside the hundred.
In the second quarter of the 13th century the demesne manor included lands in Baldon, Burcot, Chislehampton, and Drayton as well as in Dorchester. In 1329 the bishop was granted free warren in his demesne lands in these places and they were still listed as part of the demesne manor in 1551.
This complex manor formed part of the temporalities of the bishopric of Lincoln until 1547, when it was surrendered to the Crown by Henry Holbeach shortly after his translation from Rochester.
Dorchester's importance as a demesne manor is clearly shown in a survey of the bishop's estates of the second quarter of the 13th century. Not only did the bishop frequently visit the township, but he maintained a demesne farm which was expected to provide for his needs in residence and also supplied produce for him at his other manors. A certain amount was evidently sold, for his tenants had to carry grain to Oxford and Wallingford where it was taken on by boat to London. (VCH)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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