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Winchester, Hampshire - Wolvesey Castle
12th century

Click photos to enlarge


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Referred to as both Old Wolvesey Palace and Wolvesey Castle, this has been the site of the Bishop of Winchester's house since the 10th century. Little is known of the palace buildings in Anglo-Saxon times, what is seen today is from the Norman period, essentially the 12th century.


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Of that, very little is visible of the earliest range of c.1110, the blue area in the picture (part of the English Heritage display board on the site). The most substantial remains, shown below, are those of the east and north ranges, i.e. the Great Hall, or East Hall, the keep and guard tower to the east of that, and the gatehouse to the north. These are extensions by the bishop Henry de Blois and date from 1135-1171. A plan is available here (external website).
The buildings fell out of use in the 17th century and a new palace was built at the south-west corner. Part of this remains and is still in use. See Bishop's House.

The ruins were stabilised after 1915, using red tiles to distinguish the repair work from the original. Gravel indicates interior areas, grass indicates outside areas.


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The southern end of the East Hall from the outside, and the guard tower. The hall is c.1170, the guard tower c.1130-40. The wall from the guard tower to the south has some herringbone flintwork (not shown) which according to Pevsner is usually accepted as a sign of the 11th century. 


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The guard tower from the opposite side, and the interior of the southern end of the East Hall. 


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The northern end of the East Hall (interior) from the southern entrance. According to Pevsner, the stylistic evidence of the details points to a date of about 1170. On the arch of the arcading in the third picture is an unusual variety of zigzag, more like triangles. Large shafted windows and pellets up the jambs (fourth picture). A good head corbel remains. 

The East Hall was a public building for large meetings and ceremonies.


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The northern end on the outside. To the left of it can be seen the 15th century chapel which replaced a Norman chapel. This is now the northern end of the 17th century Bishop's House.
Passage way between the East Hall and the keep.


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The keep, c. 1130-40. West wall from the outside (beyond the fragmentary wall of the passage way). Last picture shows the inside of the east wall of the keep. 


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North wall of the keep from the outside, and on the inside (last picture). Flat buttresses.


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The gatehouse to the west of the East Hall. C.1130-40


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The gatehouse on the inside.
Drainage channel of latrine block.


English Heritage website of the castle,
including aerial view and directions

More of Winchester at Astoft


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All photographic images on this website are Copyright the website owner 2001 or later unless otherwise stated. Email contact above. Full size originals (3-6 megapixels)  are available for approved purposes.