Winchester Palace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the former royal palace at Winchester, Hampshire, see the King's House, Winchester.
Winchester Hall
Winchester Palace.jpg
The remains of Winchester Palace showing the Rose Window and the three doors to the buttery, pantry and kitchen.
Location London
Coordinates 51°30′25″N 0°05′27″W / 51.50683°N 0.09092°W / 51.50683; -0.09092Coordinates: 51°30′25″N 0°05′27″W / 51.50683°N 0.09092°W / 51.50683; -0.09092
Area Southwark
Built 12th century
Architectural style(s) Medieval
Governing body English Heritage
Reference No. Grade II
Winchester Palace is located in Greater London
Winchester Palace
Location of Winchester Hall in Greater London

Winchester Palace was a twelfth-century palace, London residence of the Bishops of Winchester.[1][2] It is located south of the River Thames in Southwark, near the medieval priory which today has become Southwark Cathedral.


Winchester Palace by Wenceslas Hollar, 1660.

Southwark was the largest town in the old diocese of Winchester and the bishop was a major landowner in the area. He was also a power in the land (Winchester being the old Saxon capital), and regularly needed to be in London on royal or administrative state business. For that purpose, Henry of Blois built the palace as his comfortable and high-status London residence.

The palace remained in use until the 17th century, when it was divided into tenements and warehouses, but was mostly destroyed by fire in 1814. Part of the great hall, and the west gable end with its rose window became more visible after a 19th-century fire and 20th-century redevelopment. It is believed that the great hall was built c.1136.

The hall was enlarged and the rose window built in the 14th century, possibly when William of Wykeham was bishop (1367–1398).[3]

The hall had a vaulted cellar below with direct access to the river wharf for bringing in wares, and was richly decorated. It often entertained royal visitors, including James I of Scotland on his wedding to Joan Beaufort (niece of the then bishop, Cardinal Henry Beaufort) in 1424. The rest of the palace was arranged around two courtyards. Other buildings within the site included a prison, brewery and a butchers. The bishops also had access to a tennis court, bowling alley and a garden.

During the First English Civil War Sir Thomas Ogle was imprisoned here, during which time he tried to draw Thomas Devenish, a member of John Goodwin's Independent congregation onto a royalist plot to split the Parliamentarian Independents from the Presbyterians and help the royalist take London.[4]

The Clink Liberty[edit]

Associated with the palace was the Liberty of the Clink which also lay on the south bank of the River Thames, an area free from the jurisdiction of the City of London. It therefore became an area where activities which were suppressed in the City could flourish openly; gaming houses, bowling alleys, theatres and brothels abounded.[5] It took its name from the notorious Clink prison which lay within the Liberty and gave rise to the slang expression "in the clink" (i.e. in prison).[6] The Bishops of Winchester took rent from the numerous brothels, leading to the local prostitutes being known as "Winchester geese".[7]

Present day[edit]

The remains are listed as a Scheduled Monument. They are managed by English Heritage.


  1. ^ Winchester Palace
  2. ^ Survey of London: volume 22: Bankside (the parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark), Sir Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey
  3. ^ Sir Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey (editors) (1950). "Survey of London: volume 22: Bankside (the parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark)". Winchester House and Park. pp. 45–56. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ John Coffey (2006), John Goodwin and the Puritan Revolution, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, ISBN 1843832658, 1843832658 
  5. ^ Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Daily life in Stuart England. Greenwood Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-313-32450-5 (p. 142)
  6. ^ Christopher Hibbert Ben Weinreb, John & Julia Keay, The London Encyclopaedia 3rd Edition, Macmillan, London 2008 ISBN 978-1-4050-4925-2 (p. 196)
  7. ^ Russell A. Fraser, Shakespeare: a Life in Art, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick NJ, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4128-0605-3 (p. 108)

External links[edit]