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'The Palace' medieval house and Tudor supply base, Holy Island village

A Scheduled Monument in Holy Island, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.6709 / 55°40'15"N

Longitude: -1.7988 / 1°47'55"W

OS Eastings: 412755.267918

OS Northings: 641954.222284

OS Grid: NU127419

Mapcode National: GBR H2WV.CY

Mapcode Global: WHC05.BQPG

Entry Name: 'The Palace' medieval house and Tudor supply base, Holy Island village

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014571

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24601

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Holy Island

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Holy Island St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a group of medieval buildings within an
enclosure known locally as `The Palace'. It is situated immediately outside
Lindisfarne Priory and on the eastern edge of Holy Island village.
The visible remains include a trapezoidal enclosure measuring c.45m by
55m. There are upstanding masonry remains of ranges of buildings on the north,
east and west sides of the enclosure; these remains now form the perimeter
wall of the enclosure. The ground level within the enclosure is up to 2m above
that of the roads surrounding the site on the north, east and southern sides;
to the west are gardens at a slightly higher level.
On the north side of the enclosure, set east of centre and backing onto
the road, are the remains of a building 10m long and at least 5m wide. Its
north wall stands c.4m high but the line of the south wall is no longer
visible. The north wall is built of coursed roughly squared stone. It has a
rubble footing, now 0.6m above the road, but originally probably at ground
level. One metre above this is a chamfered plinth, returning on both end
walls. There is a possible blocked loop, a narrow opening for discharging
small arms, towards the west end of the north wall. Internally, fragments of
both end walls stand a little higher than the north wall, and there appear to
be the remains of a vault on the north and east walls. At the east end of the
building, the perimeter wall at the north east angle of the enclosure appears
to be more recent, but has an internal set back that seems to indicate the
survival of older fabric in its lower sections. This may be the remains of the
building shown on a map of 1792. The remains of an inner range of buildings
along the north side survives as an incomplete building. The west wall
measures 6.8m externally and stands 4m high, with a stub of the south wall and
an 11m length of the north wall which stands c.2m high and is 0.5m thick.
There is a vertical joint mid way along the west wall. The internal faces of
both north and west walls have joist holes which mark a floor level now only
0.3m above the present ground surface; this suggests that a complete lower
floor level lies buried several metres below.
The east side of the enclosure includes the remains of two medieval buildings
in the perimeter wall. These walls stand a little over 2m high externally, but
only half of this internally; this again suggests an accumulation of material
and the probability that a complete floor level lies buried. The principal
length of walling measures 31m long by c.1m thick and is constructed of heavy
squared stones, a type of fabric which is typical of 16th century
Northumberland. At its north end a return of similar walling extends 5m
westwards, but at its south end the wall abuts on a 7.8m length of thinner
(0.6m) walling of smaller stonework with a chamfered plinth. The walling and
the plinth return 1m westwards at the south end. From the junction between the
two walls it appears that the southern one may be earlier and probably formed
part of the documented 15th century house called Harbottle Place, which must
have been a substantial establishment, probably a courtyard house. Near the
north end of the internal face of the northern length of wall is a blocked
opening and in its external face, 8.5m from the south end, is an opening which
could be a gunloop. The gunloop faces the seaward side and is probably
associated with the Tudor conversion of Harbottle Place to a supply base.
On the west side of the enclosure are the remains of a substantial wall
which abuts on the south end of the west wall of another building before
turning to run south for 36m. The northern section is now ruinous and it forms
a retaining wall between the enclosure and gardens further west. A map of 1548
suggests that this wall formed a boundary wall to the site and was not
part of a building.
The earliest documentary reference to the site dates to the beginning of
the 15th century when the site was owned by John Jenkyn who later sold it to
John Harbottle of Berwick. His house became known as Harbottle Place and this
may have led to it being called `The Palace'. In 1482 the Harbottle property
was sold to John Reyd, and in 1485 conveyed as three parcels (a house plus two
lands) to George Horsley, Oswald Ogle and Roland Hebburn. In 1514 Ogle and
Hebburn sold their lands to the Prior of Durham. During the Dissolution of the
Monasteries it passed, along with the priory, into the hands of the crown. The
buildings then appear to have become a victualling and armaments centre. In
1548 a map of Holy Island compiled by the Crown Agents, shows the site as a
square enclosure with buildings on the north and east. The buildings on the
north appear to consist of a block with two cross wings and a parallel range
behind the central block containing two circular structures, possibly brewing
vats. A survey in 1560 made for Elizabeth I describes the priory as now being
`the Queen's storehouse', and states that there was `...also another house in
the towne called the Pallace, which is the newe brewhouse and bakehouse, and
other offices in the same for the said storehouse'. The use of the site as a
supply base does not seem to have persisted for very long; by 1596 the brewing
vats are said to have been useless. The buildings were abandoned and fell into
ruin. A 1792 enclosure map labels the enclosure `Palace', but only shows a
single building at the north east corner.
The shed used for stabling on the west wall of the enclosure is excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

This monument is a rare survival of a group of medieval buildings which have
not been extensively altered in modern times. The complex originated as a
domestic house the form of which seems unusual. With the exception of bastles
and tower houses, few domestic houses of this date survive in Northumberland.
The form of this one, apparently an undefended `courtyard' type house, makes
it a rare survival. As such it would contribute to any study of developing and
changing forms of medieval domestic housing in Northumberland. The extent of
survival is particularly good. Large stretches of walling remain upstanding
and allow the form and arrangement of the building complex to be
reconstructed. A significant depth of buried remains are present at the site.
These will retain important information on the history of use of the site as
well as further important information on its structural form. Although
originally privately owned, the complex of buildings passed into the hands of
the adjacent priory. A recent study has argued that it may have stood within
the north east corner of the early monastic precinct. The surviving remains
will retain information on how the complex was used during this period and
will thereby contribute to any study of the monastic community. Apart from the
priory complex and the parish church this is the only significant medieval
survival on the island. As such it will contribute to any study of the
medieval settlement of Holy Island.
After the Dissolution the complex functioned for a while as a victualling and
armaments centre for the forces of Elizabeth I. The military use of this and
other sites on Holy Island at this period must be seen in the context of a
wider system of coastal defence stretching along the east coast, the
construction of which was initiated by Henry VIII. During Elizabeth's reign
the continued threat posed by Scotland, along with threats of invasion from
Spain or the Spanish Netherlands, necessitated continued strengthening and
maintenance of the coastal defences. Surviving Elizabethan fortifications are
extremely rare, with fewer than ten recognised examples in England as a whole.
In view of this rarity all examples will be identified as nationally
important. The best surviving examples are the defences of Berwick-upon-Tweed,
which formed the northern extent of this particular defence system. Whilst not
a fortification in its own right, this complex is important in providing an
insight into how the Elizabethan coastal defence system here was supported.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P, The Palace, Holy Island, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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