The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Llandaff Bishops Palace

In the community of Llandaff.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Cardiff.
Preserved county of South Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST15577800
Latitude 51.49644° Longitude -3.21978°

Llandaff Bishops Palace has been described as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Substantial remains of a sub-rectangular enclosure, c.52m NW-SE by 40m, defined by ruinous masonry curtain walls, towers and a monumental gatehouse at the W angle, facing the approach from the Cathedral. Thought to have been first constructed in late C13, substantially intact c.1600, the palace/castle decayed thereafter. The castle/palace is the only surviving residence of the medieval clergy of Llandaff. Although complete in 1610, it was probably ruined during the Civil War. There are twin towers to what was a 2-storey gatehouse, and an original studded oak door remains. There is a further tower to the NE, and traces of towers survive along the S wall. No evidence remains to suggest the layout inside the walls, although the bailey would almost certainly have contained timber structures. Ground floor room to S tower, including hooded fireplace, and turret to rear contains newel stair. (Coflein)

At the south-east end of The Cathedral Green and part of the important group of buildings surrounding it.
Late C13, probably built by William de Broase (Bishop 1266-87), and comparable with contemporary work at other South Wales castles, especially Caerphilly. It was, however, abandoned by the Bishop following the Owain Glyndwr led rebellion in 1402-5 and the Bishop of Llandaff moved to Mathern Palace (qv Mathern Community, Monmouthshire) and did not return to live near his Cathedral until 1850 (qv Cathedral School). The castle is shown complete on John Speed's plan of 1610, with the gatehouse and four other towers, so it was presumably dismantled at the time of the Civil War. A photograph of c1860 shows that it has received only a small amount of repair and consolidation since that date (mainly in 1971). It is the only remaining medieval residence of leading Cathedral clergy at Llandaff. The castle was a part of the Bishop's Palace garden while he was resident (1850-1939) in what is now the Cathedral School (qv). It was given to the City of Cardiff in 1971, was repaired by them, and was opened as a public garden in 1972.
There is now no evidence for structures within the walls apart from the suggestions of a first floor Great Hall in the corner above the escarpment. John Speed shows nothing in 1610 although the walls and towers are shown complete. Single bailey castles of this kind, with limited accommodation within the walls and towers themselves, would always have had timber buildings within the bailey, see for example Caldicot Castle (qv Caldicot Community, Monmouthshire). The interiors of the gatehouse were not available for inspection at resurvey, but it is reported that the north tower has an unlit semi-basement and the south tower has a well appointed ground floor room with a hooded fireplace and arrow loops in three directions. The square turret behind contains a spacious newel stair which must have given access to the room above the full width of the gatehouse.
Planned as a single bailey castle with the main defence in the gatehouse and the walls above the river escarpment. Gatehouse with twin towers, originally with two floors above a basement, archway with three vaulted bays with the original moulding, portcullis slot and rebate for the surviving ancient oak doors with much iron strapping and studding. There is a north-east tower, which is shown in Speed's view of 1610, together with other towers along the south wall, traces of which also remain. Curtain wall, most complete along west front. Traces only of original upper rooms. (Listed Building Report)

This palace is a single-walled enclosure, four-sided differing in no respect from a small fortress of the early medieval period. Dated at about 1275. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

There is apparently no recorded history of this castle, although according to tradition it was burnt by Owain Glyndwr when his revolt spread to the south at the beginning of C15. The main feature of the ruins is the twin-towered gatehouse, probably dating from the early C14. The castle was small, and its four irregular sides were guarded by three small towers, one round, one square, and another which has vanished. (Reid)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling   Listing    
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   Historic Wales   V. O. B.   Geology   LIDAR  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, the four welsh archaeological trusts and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain Designated Historic Asset Descriptive Information from The Welsh Historic Environment Service (Cadw), licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown.
Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Lidar coverage in the UK is not complete. The button above will give an idea of the area of coverage. Higher resolution lidar images in both DSM and DTM form may be available from Lle A geo-Portal for Wales (click the preview tag to bring up a map and then select format byclicking on the small blue diamond in the top right corner of the map.)
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of the described site.

This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:03