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HER Number:MDV124063
Name:Bishop's Palace, Palace Place, Paignton

Summary

The remains of the Bishops of Exeter's medieval palace are partly enclosed by crenellated walls to the west, south and east with one surviving tower in the south-east corner. To to the north, outside the surviving walls, are the remains of a lodgings block with 2-storey garde-robe. The buildings of Palace Place and some in Crown and Anchor Way lie within the footprint of the palace complex.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 885 607
Map Sheet:SX86SE
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishTorbay
DistrictTorbay
Ecclesiastical ParishPAIGNTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Guardianship Monument: Torbay 1
  • National Monuments Record: 446424/SX 86 SE 12
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX86SE/3
  • Old SAM County Ref: 240
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: 16/02/2024
  • Torbay HER: MTO8874

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BISHOPS PALACE (XI to XV - 1001 AD (Between) to 1500 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX86SE12, Photo (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV315909.

Torbay HER record (SMR record). SDV361984.

The Bishop's Palace is located to the south of the churchyard. All that remains is a rectangular enclosure bounded by high walls, on the south and east sides with battlements. There is one tower at the south-east corner with two storeys of two-light windows, trefoil cusped and ogee-headed.[1]

The walls to the Bishop's Palace including the corner tower are probably fourteenth century. The Palace is built of red breccia stone, and the tower roof is leaded. Tall walls surround the precinct which is now occupied by the vicarage and its gardens. An internal corner tower occupies the south-east corner of the enclosure. The south, Tower Road, elevation of the wall has a section of re-building incorporating a 2-centred arched doorway. The walls have coped merlons with embrasures, some slits and putlog holes. The four-stage tapering tower has an embattled parapet above a moulded string. On the face fronting Bishop's Place is a small two-centred doorway. The first stage has a two-light window with ogival heads to the lights. The second floor window has two-trefoiled-headed lights below a blind plate. There are similar windows to the other elevations. The west face, inside the Vicar's garden, has a two-centred doorway. All the floors and stairs inside the tower appear to be twentieth century. Segmental arched joists support a lead covering to the roof. The Bishop's Palace was transferred from Bishop Veysey to Sir Thomas Speke in 1549. In the nineteenth century it was owned by Colonel Ridgeway who exposed the foundations of old buildings "numerous coins and other interesting objects were found during the excavation of the ground" (Couldrey, 1932). The site inside the enclosure is obviously of considerable archaeological interest.[2]

A photograph, possibly from the Frith collection and dated soon after 1879, depicts the Bishop's Palace and the surrounding area. Land immediately to the south of the palace, which was later to be developed to form Palace Avenue, is still fields under cultivation at this time. Another undated historic photograph shows an ivy clad Coverdale Tower from inside the garden.[3]

A photograph held by the National Monuments Record, taken before the 1st March 1943, shows the Coverdale Tower's Tower Road elevation.[4]

The remains of the palace of the Bishops of Exeter, Lords of the Manor of Paignton, date from the fourteenth century. The tower is sometimes known as the "Bible Tower" because it was last occupied by Miles Coverdale, translator of the Bible. It stands at the south-east corner of the Vicarage garden and is a four-storeyed building of red conglomerate, with some fourteenth century windows and two arched doorways. Ruined walls forming parts of the south and east walls of the Vicarage garden are about 10 feet high with crenallations, and contain slit window openings with arches and splayed reveals internally.[5]

All that toft (being formerly a spacious mansion house) called the Palace of Paignton together with the gatehouse and one little room adjacent called the Darkhouse or the Porters Lodge (converted into two guardrooms) also the barn etc. belonging. And also two acres of land lying within one scyte of the said Palace and converted into an orchard etc…also three closes of land [18a] called the "Garstone" adjacent to the Church."[6]

New red (Permian) sandstone and conglomerate used in the building are from medieval quarries in the Torbay area.[7]

The Palace was the medieval Manor House of the Bishop's Manor of Paignton.[8]

At the end of the nineteenth century excavations were carried out by the owner, but the record of his work is lost.[9]

By 1567 the Palace was uninhabitable and had probably been so twenty years earlier. Bishop Veysey, the last episcopal owner of the manor, surrendered the Paignton property in 1549.[10]

The Palace was transferred to Thomas Speke in 1549 and then to Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.[11]

From A-B the wall has been rebuilt in modern times. From B-C the wall stands to a height of perhaps 3.66m. It is grass topped and stucco faced. In the south, it is not capped and is constructed of red sandstone conglomerate with some limestone. From C-D the wall stands 4.9m high and is capped. At D, the tower, built of red sandstone conglomerate, is in an excellent state of preservation. In the west and east it has an arched doorway 7m wide and 1.9m high. The first floor contains one long narrow window slit in each wall while the second and third floors contain a mullioned window of two lights in each wall. The tower walls are 0.8m thick. From D-E the wall is 7m thick and has an average height of 3m. There is no trace of the wall beyond F. At G, a short portion contains five walled up windows and one walled up doorway.[12]

There is an illustration of the Episcopal Palace by Swete in the Devon Records Office.[13]

The tower and walls of the Bishop's Palace are an ancient monument. A length of curtain wall of red sandstone and battlemented, enclosing the south and parts of the west and east sides of a square just south of the parish church, now encloses the vicarage garden. There are loopholes at ground level. At the south east angle is a tower of three storeys. On the ground floor, on the east side, is a door with a pointed head. On the first floor, north side, is a two-light window with cusped heads to the lights. Above, on the second floor, is a two-light window with four-centred heads to the lights.[14]

A watching brief was undertaken during management clearance works on the site. Prioir to my arrival a number of trees and shrubs had been cut down with stumps left in situ. Under the watching brief these were dug out by a JCB. An additional area of rubbish/compost to the immediate south-west of the school hall was also excavated away. A strip immediately adjacent to the southerly scheduled wall was removed to ensure that ivy roots were removed. All the excavations took place in made ground. This was apparent for two reasons: The only finds were of nineteenth and twentieth century date, and the excavations and clearance revealed a number of features in the walls such as windows, putlog holes and a doorway. The door had been completely covered by scrub and on removal it was clear that nineteenth century re-modelling and levelling of the garden had included the construction of steps down to this door to bring it back into use. No archaeological features were identified during the investigation other than those within the walls themselves.[15][16]

A watching brief was undertaken during excavations for site management purposes by JCB. This continued the work begun on 8th February 1999 and concentrated on an area immediately west and north of the tower. To the west of the tower the rubbish was removed and the site graded to rise on a gentle slope to the west. All the finds were modern and were not kept. At the north-west corner of the site a stone feature was initially identified by JCB and then hand cleaned. This was a well constructed sandstone flag path, running north-south with a step down at the NW corner of the tower. This was 75cm wide (W-E) and 245cm long including the step which was 48cm wide (N-S). The southern edge of the step was located 55cm from the tower northern door jamb. This feature was cleaned and exposed to be presented as part of the Palace grounds. Finds stratigraphically above the path were all post-medieval and modern. It is believed, although not confirmed, that this may be a Victorian garden path.[17][18] [19]

The Bishop's Palace, Paignton, was erected by Bishop Osbern in 1100. One of the towers and a portion of the battlement survive. It must have been a very important structure, equipped for defence. Large stable buildings were attached to the Palace. There was an archery ground on the north side of the churchyard. The archers used the soft red stones at the east end of the church to sharpen the metal points of the arrows, and the holes caused are still visible. There was also a private chapel dedicated to St Mary. The lower walls of the chapel still exist and their outline can be traced. Coins were discovered here when Colonel Ridgeway had the foundations of the old buildings exposed. The tower dates from 1076, though the crenellation and windows on the second floor were added later.[No source is given for these statements although it may be from Hawker, 1878 in Transactions of the Devonshire Association]

Archaeological evaluation in the form of 4 test pits undertaken around the Church Hall in 2003, in advance of a redevelopment scheme, encountered natural on the north and west sides at a higher level than the construction raft that the hall sits upon. On the south and east sides 19th/20th century deposits were found at depth suggesting the fill of a flt-botomed cut-feature, possibly Colonel Ridgeway's reported 19th century excavations. Additionally 3 pieces of Iron Age pottery were recovered from a service trench between the east wall of the hall and the medieval east wall. [EA Report3.68]

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV315905.

The bishop's palace, paignton. Erected by bishop osbern in 1100. One of the towers and a portion of the battlement survive. It must have been an important structure, equipped for defence. Large stable buildings attached to the palace. Archery ground at north side of churchyard. The archers used the soft red stones at the east end of the church to sharpen the metal points of the arrows, and the holes thus caused are still visible. Private chapel dedicated to st. Mary. The lower portion of the walls of this chapel still exist and their outline can be traced. Coins were discovered here when colonel ridgeway had the foundations of the old buildings exposed. The tower dates from 1076, though the crenellation and windows on the second floor were added later.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV315918.

Dro=53/6 box 9/(1713)/worksheet.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV315920.

Dow/smc letter/(4/2/1988)in smr.

Hawker, T., 1878, Myles Coverdale, 209 (Article in Serial). SDV362035.

All that remains of the Bishop's Palace is a tower, part of the walls, what appears to have been a chapel and traces of a gateway. Miles Coverdale is described as the 'last episcopal occupant'.

Straton, C.R.(Ed.), 1909, Proceedings of the Roxburghe Club (Article in Serial). SDV362099.

Watkin, H. R., 1922-1923, Bishops' Palace at Paignton, 247-8 (Article in Serial). SDV362068.

Excavations were carried out by the owner at the end of the nineteenth century but the record of his work is lost.

R. B. M., 1922-1923, Paignton, Bishop's Palace at, 247-248 (Article in Serial). SDV315912.

Couldrey, W. G., 1932, Memories and Antiquities of Paignton, 227-228, 232 (Article in Serial). SDV343465.

The Bishop's Palace, Paignton, was erected by Bishop Osbern in 1100. One of the towers and a section of the battlemented walls survive. These suggest that it must have been a very important structure, equipped for defence. Large stable buildings were attached to the Palace. There was an archery ground on the north side of the churchyard. The archers used the soft red stones at the east end of the church to sharpen the metal points of the arrows, and the holes caused are still visible. There was also a private chapel dedicated to St Mary. The lower walls of the chapel still exist and their outline can be traced. Coins were discovered here when Colonel Ridgeway, one of the last owners, had the foundations of the old buildings exposed.
The tower is known as the Coverdale Tower. According to legend, Miles Coverdale used a room on the first floor as a study while he was Bishop of Exeter. However, he was not appointed Bishop until 1551 and according to the Patent Rolls all the episcopal property in Paignton was transferred to Sir Thomas Speke in 1549 and then to Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.

Waterfield, R., 1932, Proceedings at the Seventy-First Annual Meeting, held at Paignton, 20th to 24th June, 1932, 36-37 (Article in Serial). SDV362423.

Site of the Bishop's Palace of which only the surrounding walls and a tower remain. The site was acquired by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners c. 1907 when a new vicarage was built. The tower dates from c. 1076, although the crenellation and windows on the second and third floors are later. Bishop Miles Coverdale is said to have translated the Bible in the tower but there is no truth to this story.
The manor was given to the church before the conquest.

Alexander, J.J., 1936-37, Paignton and Miles Coverdale, 127-130 (Article in Serial). SDV362471.

By 1567 the Palace was uninhabitable and had probably been so twenty years earlier. Bishop Veysey, the last episcopal owner of the manor, surrendered the Paignton property in 1549.[

Unknown, 1942-1946, Unknown, 80 (Article in Serial). SDV315915.

A document of episcopal holdings of circa 1501 lists Radway and Paignton as both utterly destroyed or fallen down.

Tapley-Soper, H. A., 1942-46, Note 29. Palaces of the Bishops of Exeter in the Fifteenth Century, 80 (Article in Serial). SDV362092.

A transcript of Westminster Abbey Muniment 3529. Cost of repair to lead and other items CX li (£110).

National Monuments Record, 1943, Bishop's Palace, Paignton (Ground Photograph). SDV362185.

A photograph held by the National Monuments Record, taken before the 1st March 1943, shows the Coverdale Tower's Tower Road elevation

Walker, H. H., 1968, Occombe in the Parish of Marldon, South Devon, 144 (Article in Serial). SDV138116.

The Palace was the medieval Manor House of the Bishop's Manor of Paignton.

Department of Environment, 1975, Borough of Torbay, 92 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV362418.

Masson Phillips, E. N. (ed) + Worth, R. H., 1979, Church geology, 165 (Article in Serial). SDV145424.

New red (Permian) sandstone and conglomerate used in the building are from medieval quarries in the Torbay area.

National Monuments Record, 1980, Bible Tower, Bishops' Palace, Paignton, 446424/SX 86 SE 12 (Un-published). SDV362186.

The remains of the palace of the Bishops of Exeter, Lords of the Manor of Paignton, date from the fourteenth century. The tower is sometimes known as the 'Bible Tower' because it was last occupied by Miles Coverdale, translator of the Bible. It stands at the south-east corner of the Vicarage garden and is a four-storeyed building of red conglomerate, with some fourteenth century windows and two arched doorways. Ruined walls forming parts of the south and east walls of the Vicarage garden are about 10 feet high with crenallations, and contain slit window openings with arches and splayed reveals internally.

Timms, S., 1983, Untitled Source (Worksheet). SDV315917.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 841 (Monograph). SDV325629.

The Bishop's Palace is located to the south of the churchyard. All that remains is a rectangular enclosure bounded by high walls, on the south and east sides with battlements. There is one tower at the south-east corner with two storeys of two-light windows, trefoil cusped and ogee-headed.

Pike, J. (ed.), 1997, The Archive Photograph Series - Paignton, 11, 12 (Monograph). SDV362111.

A photograph, possibly from the Frith collection and dated soon after 1879, depicts the Bishop's Palace and the surrounding area. Land immediately to the south of the palace, which was later to be developed to form Palace Avenue, is still fields under cultivation at this time. Another undated historic photograph shows an ivy clad Coverdale Tower from inside the garden.

Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.), 1997, Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 1, 188-189 (Monograph). SDV341166.

Revd Swete visited and sketched the Bishop's Palace in 1793. The first illustration shows a building 'now thatch'd and converted into a barn'; the tower is visible in the background and which he shows in more detail in the second illustration, 'rising high from the eastern angle of the wall, that enclosed the palace'. Its windows he says command the whole extent of Torbay and he suggests that it may have been built more for the purposes of pleasure than defence.
Other details: DRO, 564M/F4/130, 132

Fiorato, V. J., 1999, Bishops' Palace, Paignton (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362267.

X

Torbay Borough Council, 2000, A visit to Old Paignton (Leaflet). SDV365937.

The remains of the Bishops of Exeter's Palace include a fortified watch tower and wall. The palace was built in 1072 by Bishop Osbern and was used as a residence until the reformation.

Collings A G & Passmore A J, 2001, Archaeological Recording at 3 Crown and Anchor Way, Paignton, Torbay (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362363.

X

Exeter Archaeology, 2003, Archaeological Evaluation at Paignton Parish Church Hall, Church Path, Paignton (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362397.

X

Passmore, A. J., 2003, Archaeological Recording at the Bishop's Palace, Paignton (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362408.

Exeter Archaeology, 2004, Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Development at 2-3 Palace Place, Paignton, Torbay (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362404.

X

<2> Department of National Heritage, 1993, Revised List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, p.93 1947-1/5/70 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV362109.

X

<6> 1713, Bishops Palace, DRO 53/6 Box 9 (Article in Serial). SDV362187.

X

<15> Fiorato, V.J., 1999, Bishop's Palace (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362190.

X

<16> Fiorato, V.J., 1999, Bishop's Palace (Photograph). SDV362191.

X

<17> Fiorato, V.J., 1999, Bishops' Palace (* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist). SDV362192.

X

<18> Fiorato, V.J., 1999, Bishops' Palace Paignton (Photograph). SDV362193.

X

<19> Fiorato, V.J., 1999, Bishops' Palace, Paignton (Photograph). SDV362194.

X

Sources / Further Reading

SDV138116Article in Serial: Walker, H. H.. 1968. Occombe in the Parish of Marldon, South Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 100. A5 Paperback. 144.
SDV145424Article in Serial: Masson Phillips, E. N. (ed) + Worth, R. H.. 1979. Church geology. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 111. A5 Paperback. 165.
SDV315905Migrated Record:
SDV315909Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX86SE12. OSAD Card. Card Index. Photo.
SDV315912Article in Serial: R. B. M.. 1922-1923. Paignton, Bishop's Palace at. Devon and Cornwall Notes & Queries. 12. Unknown. 247-248.
SDV315915Article in Serial: Unknown. 1942-1946. Unknown. Devon and Cornwall Notes & Queries. Unknown. 80.
SDV315917Worksheet: Timms, S.. 1983. Worksheet.
SDV315918Migrated Record:
SDV315920Migrated Record:
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 841.
SDV341166Monograph: Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.). 1997. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 1. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Sw. 1. Hardback Volume. 188-189.
SDV343465Article in Serial: Couldrey, W. G.. 1932. Memories and Antiquities of Paignton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 227-228, 232.
SDV361984SMR record: Torbay HER record.
SDV362035Article in Serial: Hawker, T.. 1878. Myles Coverdale. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 10. Website. 209.
SDV362068Article in Serial: Watkin, H. R.. 1922-1923. Bishops' Palace at Paignton. Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries. 12. 247-8.
SDV362092Article in Serial: Tapley-Soper, H. A.. 1942-46. Note 29. Palaces of the Bishops of Exeter in the Fifteenth Century. Devon and Cornwall Notes & Queries. 22. Paperback Volume. 80.
SDV362099Article in Serial: Straton, C.R.(Ed.). 1909. Proceedings of the Roxburghe Club. Unknown.
SDV362111Monograph: Pike, J. (ed.). 1997. The Archive Photograph Series - Paignton. The Archive Photograph Series - Paignton. Paignton. Photocopy. 11, 12.
SDV362185Ground Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1943. Bishop's Palace, Paignton. . Photograph (Paper).
SDV362186Un-published: National Monuments Record. 1980. Bible Tower, Bishops' Palace, Paignton. 446424/SX 86 SE 12.
SDV362267* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Fiorato, V. J.. 1999. Bishops' Palace, Paignton. .
SDV362363* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Collings A G & Passmore A J. 2001. Archaeological Recording at 3 Crown and Anchor Way, Paignton, Torbay. Exeter Archaeology. 01.74. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV362397* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. Archaeological Evaluation at Paignton Parish Church Hall, Church Path, Paignton. Exeter Archaeology. 3.68. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV362404* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Exeter Archaeology. 2004. Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Development at 2-3 Palace Place, Paignton, Torbay. Exeter Archaeology. 4.18. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV362408* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Passmore, A. J.. 2003. Archaeological Recording at the Bishop's Palace, Paignton. Exeter Archaeology. 03.67. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV362418List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1975. Borough of Torbay. Historic Houses Register. 92.
SDV362423Article in Serial: Waterfield, R.. 1932. Proceedings at the Seventy-First Annual Meeting, held at Paignton, 20th to 24th June, 1932. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. Hardback Volume. 36-37.
SDV362471Article in Serial: Alexander, J.J.. 1936-37. Paignton and Miles Coverdale. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries. 19. Unknown. 127-130.
SDV365937Leaflet: Torbay Borough Council. 2000. A visit to Old Paignton. Leaflet + Digital.
SDV362109List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of National Heritage. 1993. Revised List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Historic Houses Register. p.93 1947-1/5/70.
SDV362187Article in Serial: 1713. Bishops Palace. DRO 53/6 Box 9.
SDV362190* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Fiorato, V.J.. 1999. Bishop's Palace. .
SDV362191Photograph: Fiorato, V.J.. 1999. Bishop's Palace.
SDV362192* Torbay Report - Interim/Research/Specialist: Fiorato, V.J.. 1999. Bishops' Palace. .
SDV362193Photograph: Fiorato, V.J.. 1999. Bishops' Palace Paignton.
SDV362194Photograph: Fiorato, V.J.. 1999. Bishops' Palace, Paignton.

Associated Monuments

MDV124049Parent of: 2-3 Palace Place, Paignton (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7798 - Site visit by Veronica Fiorato - October 1999
  • EDV7800 - Watching brief by Veronica Fiorato - Feb 1999
  • EDV7801 - Watching brief by Veronica Fiorato - March 1999
  • EDV7923 - Archaeological Recording at 3 Crown and Anchor Way - November 2001
  • EDV7947 - Archaeological Evaluation - November 2003
  • EDV7955 - Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Development at 2-3 Palace Place, Paignton, Torbay
  • EDV7981 - Site Visit by Inspector of Ancient Monuments - August 1948
  • EDV7982 - Site Visit by Ordnanace Survey - November 1952
  • EDV8002 - Site Visits by Ordnance Survey Fieldworkers in Paignton November 1952

Date Last Edited:May 9 2024 4:51PM