31 Mar Bishops Waltham Palace
Bishops Waltham Palace and associated lands are catagorised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The monument includes the earthworks and buildings which form the remains of the Palace and the surrounding Lord’s Garden, together with its precinct walls and turrets. The monument also includes surviving elements of the fishponds which lie to the West of the palace buildings which has significance in that they are well documented in being used to feed the residents.
Palace House is a Grade II* listed property and the granary to the east of Palace House is Listed Grade II, as are the stables of the Bishop’s Palace. Part of the monument, the palace buildings within the inner court, are in the care of the Secretary of State. From the 12th Century up until the English Civil War (which ran through most of the 1640’s), Bishops Waltham Palace was residence to the Bishops of Winchester.
Throughout the medieval period, the Bishops of Winchester held one of the highest positions of power in the English church. The Diocese of Winchester is one of the oldest and most important in England and the size and grandeur of the building was said to be comparable to that of many of the Royal Palaces.
Damaged during this period of war, the bishops only returned to their property after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, but did not live there again. Instead, structural materials were dismantled and appropriated for use in repair of Wolvesey Castle (or Old Bishops Palace) – their main residence in Winchester. This left much of the Palace in a ruinous state and it sank into a state of what is described as ‘picturesque decay’.
The exception, was part of the North lodging range which was adapted into a farmhouse. In 1869 the property was transferred to the Church Commissioners, before being sold in 1889. In 1952, the palace ruins were placed into official guardianship, and today they are maintained by English Heritage.
PAYE were invited to complete works to the boundary walls over an extended period across 2019/20 and are set to return in the spring of 2021 for the next phase. Much of the work ties through to English Heritage’s approach to ‘sustainable conservation’ (click link for more information), but specifically involved;
– Removal of damaging vegetation to brick walls and the application of bio-inhibitors to control regrowth.
– Treatment of invasive root systems which were responsible for partial collapse of structure
– Repointing and replacement of defective brickwork
– Rebuilding of brickwork to sections of wall and the South turret
– Replacement of defective timber lintels within the South turret
– Installation of ‘soft capping’ (read more on this process here)
– Replacement of defective fencing and gates
Works were completed over an extended period, due to delays and implications of the pandemic, but ran to meet an overall 20-week programme.
Phase II is planned to recommence in March/April 2021 and looks set to continue a similar approach to works, but with more focus on the ruinous medieval masonry.
Author: Spencer Hall ACR IHBC MCIOB PGDip HBC
Conservation Consultant | PAYE