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Lamphey Bishops Palace

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Lamphey Court; Lanfey

In the community of Lamphey.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN01840089
Latitude 51.67208° Longitude -4.86745°

Lamphey Bishops Palace has been described as a certain Palace.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


The site of the Bishops’ Palace at Lamphey was an estate of St. David’s from before the Norman invasion until the Reformation. The date of the original timber construction remains unknown; the earliest surviving elements, being the limestone rubble western Old Hall and undercroft, date to the early thirteenth century. The remainder of the buildings are largely the work of the late thirteenth-earlier fourteenth century, with later alterations. There are the remains of great halls and chapels raised over basements, two gatehouses and a large barn or granary. The distinctive arcading is similar to that found at St Davids Bishop's Palace and Swansea Castle. There are also extensive remains of a medieval ornamental landscape. The Palace changed hands at the reformation and continued as a noble house into the seventeenth century, declining thereafter. In the nineteenth century the site was laid out as a garden associated with the gleaming classical mansion erected to the north-west. (Coflein–ref. Turner, 2000)

The palace of the bishops' of St Davids consisted of an irregular array of splendid apartments clustered on the south side of one of a series of large walled courts. It is best recorded in the fourteenth century and continued as a noble residence into the seventeenth century. The main surviving features are the park to the north-west, the courts themselves and a remarkable series of fishponds and other water features. These can be interpreted with reference to surviving late thirteenth-early fourteenth century records.
The main approach was from the village to the south and passed over a bridge and dam that ponded back the valley bottom stream into a lake, providing an appropriate setting to the palace buildings. The great courts are thought to have been planted in part with orchards and gardens. Here were grown apples cabbages and leeks.
The park lies above the palace to the north-east. It was a roughly rectangular area of about 70ha enclosed by an earthen bank and with a lodge, now Lamphey Lodge, at its centre. There was grazing within for '60 great beasts, as well as the wild animals'. The park had been walled and substantially reduced in area by the early nineteenth century.
In the woods on the western edge of the park are the earthworks of four fishponds, probably breeding ponds, and between this and the walled eastern court are the substantial remains of a series of fish holding ponds and the ruins of a fish larder house.
The palace buildings and enclosures were reused for the grounds and gardens of Lamphey Court (NPRN 265874), a gleaming classical early nineteenth century mansion to the north-west of the palace (NPRN 22219).
Source: CADW Register of Parks & Gardens in Wales: Carmarthen, Ceredigion & Pembroke (2002), 234-9 (Coflein)

The palace of the Bishops of St David's from the C13 and probably much earlier and until the mid C16. It has important surviving works which have been associated with Bishops Richard Carew, Henry de Gower and Edward VAUGHAN. The palace was surrendered to the Crown by Bishop William Barlow in 1546, whence it was granted to Richard Devereux (and the line of the Earls of Essex). In 1683, probably after damage in the Civil War, the palace was sold to the Owens of Orielton, and in 1821 to Charles Mathias. In the time of Owen tenure the buildings were neglected or converted to farm use, but preservation commenced under the Mathias family followed by H. M. Office of Works and Cadw. Early C13: Fragments remain of the Old Hall and its undercroft. It is not clear with which bishop this first surviving work is associated. In the hall, two lancets at N, one blocked. Hearth at S with a round chimney above. In the undercroft: slit windows with wide embrasures. Local limestone rubble. Alterations in C16. Late C13 (associated with Bishop Carew): the Western Hall (replacing the old hall which became a kitchen) and its undercroft. The hall has a fireplace at the centre of the N wall with the stub of a round chimney. The external corbels of this fireplace are carved as little pendants. Windows with Early English stiff-leaf caps to scoinson colonettes. Painted plaster in imitation of stone courses, with a flower motif stencilled onto some of the 'stones'. Parapet with crenellations and loopholes. An attached latrine block at the SE corner. Undercroft: windows with stepped high sills above what appear to be seats. In the walls are the sockets of the floor joists carrying the original timber floor laid above a longitudinal bridging joist. Local limestone with dressings in a coarse freestone. In later centuries the Western Hall continued as the main hall of the Palace. The undercroft was vaulted over. Windows converted to Tudor form. An attic storey and a new latrine block at S were added. Early C14 (associated with Bishop Gower): A long narrow hall (or suite of rooms?) and undercroft added at the E of the Palace. The main stairs are against the N wall, above the undercroft porch. There are corbels for a pentice roof sheltering the stairs. The hall was roofed with six trusses, for the wall-posts of which there are corbels about 1.5 m above floor level. Pairs of trefoil-headed lancet windows with window seats. The E end of the hall is served by a fireplace with a conical chimney. A latrine wing is attached at SW. At the top of the walls is an arcaded parapet, of less developed type than that of Bishop Gower at St David's. Local limestone rubble with sandstone dressings. This building has a fine undercroft which now appears as a single vault, slightly pointed at the apex. The springings of several of the eleven cross-ribs survive, but the ribs have almost completely disappeared and the straight construction-joints in the stonework above rib positions are visible. A building at the E of the inner ward containing additional accommodation (the 'red chamber') may be contemporary. Early C16 (associated with Bishop Vaughan): Fragments of a chapel, with a modern gateway at the E. Sacristy at N. Fragments of Tudor windows. A fine Perpendicular E window survives. Wards: The inner ward gatehouse, now standing in isolation: two storeys, with gatekeeper's room above. Altered stairs at N, incorporating a mounting block. Pitched floor in the gateway. Shallow vaulted floor above. In the NE corner of the upper room there is a fireplace. Parapet arcading after the Gower style. There remain fragments of an extensive outer ward, to the N and W of the main buildings. Here the most important structure was Bishop Vaughan's great corn barn, the lower part of the N wall of which survives. Also fragments of the outer gatehouse. A later outer precinct wall to the S facing the stream and fishponds. (Listed Building Report)
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This record last updated 03/07/2016 21:23:33