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Bishop's Manor: the remains of a medieval bishop's palace

A Scheduled Monument in Nettleham, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.264 / 53°15'50"N

Longitude: -0.4933 / 0°29'35"W

OS Eastings: 500594.994654

OS Northings: 375173.687383

OS Grid: TF005751

Mapcode National: GBR TZ0P.0N

Mapcode Global: WHGJ0.D7B2

Entry Name: Bishop's Manor: the remains of a medieval bishop's palace

Scheduled Date: 5 March 1951

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018897

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22749

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Nettleham

Built-Up Area: Nettleham

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Nettleham All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the bishop's palace
complex and its associated features, together with the buried remains of the
early medieval manor house which preceded it. The bishop's palace was
established at Nettleham at the beginning of the 12th century. The remains of
the palace overlie those of a manor house in royal ownership which was granted
to Bishop Bloet by Henry I in 1101. The palace provided accommodation for
royal visits, including that of Edward I in 1301 at which his son was made
Prince of Wales.

In 1336 Bishop Burghersh was granted a licence to crenellate the house and to
surround it with a stone wall. The house was damaged during the Pilgrimage of
Grace in 1536, but was not finally deserted until later in the century. The
buildings were partly dismantled in the early 17th century to provide
materials for works to the bishop's palace in Lincoln, and by the later 18th
century no buildings remained standing.

The remains of the palace complex take the form of a series of substantial
earthworks, up to 2m in height, arranged in terraces on a north-facing slope
on the south side of the village of Nettleham. The remains of the principal
buildings of the palace are located in the north eastern part of the monument,
where the earth-covered remains of stone walls represent a series of ranges
which included private chambers for the accommodation of the bishop and his
royal guests, a chapel, offices, a kitchen and stables. The private rooms are
believed to have been situated in the western part of the palace while the
service buildings were located to the east. The buildings were constructed on
a series of levelled terraces which are matched by those of the palace gardens
adjacent to the west. The gardens, which are bounded by the earth-covered
remains of a stone wall, are believed to have been laid out in the mid-14th
century after Bishop Burghersh obtained a licence to crenellate. Referred to
in a document of 1432, they include the remains of paths and flowerbeds
arranged in rectangular blocks. Archaeological excavation in the area of the
garden has demonstrated the survival of underlying building remains thought to
represent the manor house which stood on the site before the 12th century.

The central part of the monument takes the form of a broad terrace, bounded on
the north by the main palace buildings and garden wall, and on the south by a
series of building platforms arranged along the inside of a linear bank. The
bank represents the earth-covered remains of a stone wall which formed the
southern boundary of the palace complex; the building remains at its centre
represent the principal gatehouse of the palace. The courtyard thus created
housed the palace's agricultural and service buildings, including, to each
side of the gatehouse, the remains of a large rectangular barn. Further
building remains on the east side of the courtyard may represent service
buildings such as a brewhouse or stables, with an enclosed yard adjacent to
the east. In the western part of the courtyard is a deep extraction pit from
which limestone was quarried in the post-medieval period; adjacent to the east
side of it is a mound thought to include the remains of a limekiln.

In the southern part of the monument, running southwards from the remains of
the gatehouse, are two parallel linear banks representing a walled trackway
which served as the principal approach to the palace complex. Adjacent to
each side of this approach are the remains of a large rectangular embanked

All fences, gates and garden structures are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Bishops' palaces were high status domestic residences providing luxury
accommodation for the bishops and lodgings for their large retinues; although
some were little more than country houses, others were the setting for great
works of architecture and displays of decoration.
Bishops' palaces were usually set within an enclosure, sometimes moated,
containing a range of buildings, often of stone, including a hall or halls,
chapels, lodgings and a gatehouse, often arranged around a courtyard or
The earliest recorded examples date to the seventh century. Many were occupied
throughout the medieval period and some continued in use into the post-
medieval period; a few remain occupied today. Only some 150 bishops' palaces
have been identified and documentary sources confirm that they were widely
dispersed throughout England. All positively identified examples are
considered to be nationally important.

The remains of the bishop's palace at Nettleham survive well as a series of
substantial earthworks. Limited archaeological excavation has demonstrated
the survival of buried remains while leaving the majority of deposits intact,
preserving valuable evidence for social and economic activity on the site. As
a result of detailed archaeological survey and historical research the remains
are quite well understood, the association of the earthwork remains of the
palace with the buried remains of an earlier manor house demonstrating the
development of a particular high-status site throughout the medieval period.
The survival of medieval garden remains is very rare, and together with the
remains of the palace buildings will provide insights into the symbolic and
aesthetic values of a particular facet of medieval society. As a monument
presented to the public through interpretative displays, it also serves as an
important educational and recreational resource.

Source: Historic England

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