Wolvesey Castle (Winchester Old Bishop's Palace)
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Around 1110 Bishop William Giffard erected the first stone building here. Only a small section of his hall remains, near the later 17th century palace. The early Norman building was extended and "modernised" by the powerful Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester during the Civil War between Queen Matilda and King Stephen (1135-48). The result was not so much a castle as a palatial residence, suitable for one of the richest and most influential men in England. Within an enclosing wall were a complex of buildings surrounding an impressive great hall, including barns, stables, a wool store, and prisons. The hall was where Henry entertained and carried out his administraive duties, and at 27 metres in length it must have been a truly impressive place.
One of Henry's new 'mod-cons' was a piped water supply, one of the earliest examples in medieval Britain of a complete water system, with two well-houses, a settling tank, an ornamental tank, a series of troughs and pipes, and a latrine block that emptied into a moat.
Henry kept extending the palace throughout his lifetime, adding a second hall, a keep and tower, and a pair of imposing gatehouses. Only the foundations of one of these gatehouses survives. Aside from providing a grand entrance into the castle complex, the gatehouse was later used to store the Pipe Rolls, the official records of the Bishop of Winchester's estates. These rolls provide an invaluable insight into the merdieval period. They were held in the castle gatehouse from 1370, but are now in the Hampshire Record Office.
Over the next 5 centuries the palace buildings were repaired and renovated several times, the essential structure and main buildings at Wolvesey were all begun during Henry of Blois' lifetime.
The last great moment in Wolvesey's history came on 25 July, 1554, when Philip II of Spain and Queen Mary of England had their wedding breakfast here before proceeding to Winchester Cathedral for the wedding ceremony.
About Wolvesey Castle
Address: College Street, Wolvesey, Winchester, Hampshire, England, SO23 9NB
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: 3/4 m SE Winchester Cathedral
Website: Wolvesey Castle
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
Find other attractions tagged with:
17th century (Time Period) - Baroque (Architecture) - castle (Architecture) - Civil War (Architecture) - Henry IV (Person) - King Stephen (Person) - Medieval (Time Period) - moat (Historical Reference) - Norman (Architecture) - Queen Mary (Person) - Saxon (Time Period) -
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Winchester Guildhall - 0.1 miles (Museum)
Winchester Cathedral - 0.2 miles (Cathedral)
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Winchester City Museum - 0.3 miles (Museum)
Brooks Experience - 0.3 miles (Museum)
Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum - 0.4 miles (Museum)
Westgate Museum - 0.4 miles (Museum)
Winchester Castle - 0.5 miles (Castle)
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