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The Bishop's Palace

Credit: Garry Allam, Bishop's Sutton Heritage; curated by Mark Allen

1839 Tithe Map,The Palace would have stood in parcel no 291, by the Mill pond. It is possible that the building in the left of the plot was the last remnant of the palace.

The Bishop's Palace at Bishop's Sutton was situated to the north of the church on the other side of the stream - between the stream, the cress track and Bighton lane.

In 1136 King Stephen exchanged with his brother The Bishop of Winchester Henry de Blois his manor at Sutton with Henry’s manor at Morden surrey. From then it became Bishop's Sutton and it was from about that time that Henry had his palace constructed. Henry was a prolific builder (like the palace at Bishop's Waltham ) of smaller churches, palaces and castles. It is likely he had a hand in St Nicholas church in Bishops Sutton.

As Bishop's Sutton grew in importance, it soon became one of the Bishop's prize possessions and became a regular haunt of for the Bishops of Winchester who would have stayed at the palace - for example Bishop de Roche spent Christmas at Bishop’s Sutton 1211. These were incredibly powerful men and would have trailed around a huge retinue with them.
By the mid 1500’s the palace was described as such “The manor-howse being a verie olde howse, somtyme walled round abowte with stone, now decaied, well waterid with an olde ponde or moote adjoyning to it.”

Bishop's Sutton, 1839 tithe map showing the location of the Bishop's Palace

Henry de Blois c1150

In 1830 the last remnant of the palace was being used as a malthouse. In 1839 Duthy states: "Within the memory of persons still living considerable vestiges of a strong and extensive building stood in the meadows to the north of the church, which were the dilapidated remains of an ancient palace of the Bishops of Winchester. The walls were of great thickness and composed of flints and mortar, but it was impossible to trace the disposition of the apartments or the form of the edifice."

Duthy further noted that the site had been used as a defensive position during the skirmishes leading up to the Battle of Cheriton (1644), and that the episcopal manor house was destroyed as a result.

Bishop's Sutton, Henry De Blois

Present day showing location of Palace

A report on the site from 1956 states Around the site are many large flints and a few tile fragments. Examination of mole casts within the area revealed a few pieces of roofing slate. A fragment of flint rubble walling, 1.1m. thick, projects a metre or so into a watercress bed. According to the foreman (Mr. W. Brown, 2 Holbury Cottages, Bishop's Sutton) this was uncovered whilst extending the bed.

In the summer of 1976, the lines of the walls showed up clearly.

Bishop's Sutton, present day showing the location of the Bishop's Palace

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