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Name:Bishop's Palace, Lyddington Bede House, Lyddington
HER Ref:MLE5485
Parish:Lyddington, Rutland
Grid Reference:SP 875 970
Map:Coming soon

Monument Types

  • BISHOPS PALACE (Early Medieval to Early Post-medieval - 1150 AD to 1600 AD)


There was a residence here by the mid-late C12th. By the C14th/C15th it was a favourite palace of the Bishops of Lincoln. The surviving range is probably C15th, remodelled c.1600 when it was turned into a 'bedehouse' (see MLE18049).

Additional Information

Scheduled Monument description extract:
The monument includes Lyddington Bedehouse, a Grade I Listed Building incorporating the standing remains of a medieval palace of the bishops of Lincoln. In 1085 Bishop Remegius acquired a manor at Lyddington which was enlarged and developed throughout the following century, and in the early 13th century the presence of an episcopal residence on the site was first recorded. The palace was extensively rebuilt in the early 14th century and further altered during the 15th and early 16th centuries…
The monument includes the standing and buried remains of the medieval palace and post-medieval almshouse, and the buried remains of the moated manor which preceded them; these features were partly excavated between 1976 and 1983. It also includes the earthwork remains of the palace gardens, fishponds and associated features, including ridge-and-furrow cultivation. The monument lies near the centre of the village of Lyddington, south, east and north east of the village green. It takes the form of a series of standing structures, earthworks and buried features extending from Main Street on the west to the River Hylde on the east. In the western part of the monument are the remains of the palace, almshouse and moated site; to the east is the area which served as a garden of the palace, formerly known as `Little Park', and where the earthwork remains of fishponds and ridge-and-furrow cultivation are located…
The Bedehouse is a stone built structure of rectangular plan situated on the north west side of the churchyard. Aligned north east to south west, it is constructed of coursed ironstone with white limestone dressings and ashlar additions, and dates principally from the 14th to 16th centuries...
Attached at the southern corner of the main part of the building is a smaller structure on a slightly different alignment, separated from the ground floor chambers by an internal passage but linked through both the upper and attic storeys. This and the main part of the building represent the remains of the cameral range (private chamber) of the medieval palace, begun in the 12th-13th centuries and rebuilt in the early 14th century. Here the bishop's private chambers were located. The central chamber on the upper storey, originally open to the roof and later fitted with an ornate timber ceiling, served as the bishop's private hall; the north eastern chamber served as a chapel and the south western chamber as the bishop's presence chamber or office. The rooms attached to the south include a private oratory and washroom…
The present Bedehouse represents only a fragment of the former bishop's palace, the larger part of which survives as a series of buried deposits identified by part archaeological excavation. The cameral range has thus been found to have extended further to both the north east and south west of the present Bedehouse. Projecting from the north west front of the Bedehouse is a rectangular tower representing the standing remains of a structure which extended north eastwards along the face of the original range; this tower houses a stone stair which originally led up to the bishop's chambers from the eastern corner of the great hall which joined the cameral range at right- angles. The buried remains of the hall extend north westwards from the Bedehouse towards Bluecoat Lane and include stone wall foundations, floor surfaces and hearths. The hall was found to have been constructed in the early 14th century over the remains of a smaller 12th century hall; measuring 20m by 12m, it is one of the largest known episcopal halls in the country. Adjoining the north western end of the hall, and running parallel with the cameral range, are the buried remains of the service and lodging range of the palace. The remains of this range extend northwards beyond the Bedehouse grounds, lying beneath and to each side of Bluecoat Lane. The cameral range, main hall and lodging range of the palace may thus be seen to have enclosed three sides of an open courtyard in the area now occupied by the northern part of the Bedehouse grounds. The Bedehouse grounds are surrounded by a stone wall which on the north western and north eastern sides, and on the south eastern side bounding the churchyard, is principally of post-medieval date. Running south from the Bedehouse, between the Bedehouse garden and the churchyard, it overlies the remains of a medieval building which lay within the palace precinct. In the southern part of the Bedehouse garden, along Church Lane and Main Street, the present wall represents a rebuilding of part of the palace's precinct wall. Part excavation in this area has demonstrated that the first precinct wall was constructed in the 14th century, rebuilt on a slightly different alignment in the 15th century and finally replaced by the present wall in the 18th century. At the southern corner of the precinct is a projecting stone tower of octagonal plan which dates largely from the late 15th century. The remains of the earliest precinct wall were found to partly overlie an infilled moat, over 5.5m wide and 1.5m deep, with an internal rampart; these features represent the remains of the south and west sides of a rectangular moated enclosure, bounded by Church Lane and Main Street respectively. Constructed in the 11th-12th centuries the moat is contemporary with the early hall on the site, and together they represent the remains of a moated manor out of which the palace developed. The moat went out of use in the 13th century before the 14th century palace and walled precinct were established. The buried remains of the northern arm of the moat have been identified by aerial photography running across the lawns north east of the Manor House; in the western corner of the large field to the east are the earthwork remains of a linear channel running north eastwards which is believed to have originated as an outlet leat of the moat. The eastern arm of the moat is thought to have run along the east side of the present churchyard. The moat thus enclosed an area of approximately 1ha which was subsequently enclosed within the palace precinct. In this area would have stood the palace gatehouse, domestic outbuildings such as kitchens and brewhouses, and associated yards and gardens. Also lying within both the moated enclosure and the later palace precinct is the present Parish Church of St Andrew, which is believed to have originated as the palace chapel. The earliest part of the standing fabric dates from the early 14th century, indicating that it was rebuilt at the same time as the main palace buildings to replace an earlier church known through documentary sources of the late 12th century. The present church is in ecclesiastical use and is therefore excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. Archaeological deposits associated with both the earlier and later churches, including structural features such as porches and covered passageways, are believed to lie within the churchyard. The area of the churchyard which lies within the monument is now out of use and is included in the scheduling. A small area east of the vestry (at the north east end of the church) remains in use and is totally excluded from the scheduling. The part excavation of a medieval building against the western edge of the churchyard indicates that the remains of other secular and domestic features of the palace precinct also survive in this area. Adjacent to the north east of the Bedehouse grounds is a raised building platform which occupies a rectangular area measuring about 80m by 50m, including the small orchard and part of the garden to the rear of no 3, The Green, and extending north eastwards through the present farmyard to the south western part of the adjacent field. This platform is considered to represent the remains of an outer court of the palace where stables and other outbuildings would have been located. It is believed to overlie the remains of the eastern arm of the moat, representing the expansion of the palace complex north eastwards in the early 14th century. From this date the present pasture field lay within the bishop's `Little Park', referred to in documentary sources, where gardens and orchards are thought to have been located. In this field, and in the paddock to the north of it, are the earthwork remains of ridge-and-furrow cultivation aligned north east to south west. Low in height and without heads, the ridges are partly overlain by the building platform and may thus be seen to predate the construction of the palace's outer court in the early 14th century. These remains are thought to be associated with a royal licence to till 20 acres which was obtained by the bishop in 1154, and thus represent less than 200 years of cultivation. In the north eastern part of the large pasture field are the earthworks of a substantial ornamental fishpond complex, intended to serve both as a series of ponds in which to raise fish and as an elaborate earthwork within an ornamental garden. Lying in the valley of the River Hylde, along the former course of the river, it occupies a large rectangular area measuring over 110m by 80m and bounded by a large outer bank up to 3m in height. Gaps in the bank at the north western and south eastern corners represent inlet and outlet leats respectively. The outer bank encloses a deep rectangular moat, which in turn surrounds a lower inner bank; this bank defines a rectangular area subdivided by further linear banks to create a series of interconnected rectangular ponds where the fish were raised. The large outer bank served both to protect the ponds from periodic flooding and as a feature within the layout of the gardens of the Little Park, enhancing the view of the ponds as seen from the palace and providing a raised walk. The earthworks of the fishpond complex partly overlie those of the adjacent ridge-and-furrow and are believed to date from the early 14th century when the Little Park was established. Adjacent to the south west of the main part of the fishpond complex is a single large fishpond, nearly 20m by 60m and 2m deep, believed to be later in date. In the paddock which occupies the north western part of the site, lying approximately 100m to the west of the main fishpond complex, are the earthwork remains of two further fishponds. Each pond is about 15m wide, 35m long and 0.5m deep. The westernmost pond is aligned north west to south east with a leat at each end; that on the north west is linked to the adjacent stream. Running from the eastern side of the pond is a short leat connecting it to the south western end of the easternmost pond, which lies roughly at right angles to it. At the north eastern end of this pond are the remains of a leat running over 70m to the eastern corner of the paddock. Both ponds are bounded by broad linear banks.

In 1989 CW undertook a watching brief. (PL 24/11/89)

<1> Liddle, P., 1983, A Guide to 20 Archaeological Sites in Leicestershire (Bibliographic reference). SLE2990.

The Bedehouse is a surviving fragment of an extensive palace complex of the Bishops of Lincoln. The estate was granted in 1085 and a manor house existed by the early C13th. In the C14th/C15th it was a favourite palace of the Bishops. The surviving range is believed to be C15th, remodelled after 1602 when Lord Cecil had it converted into a hospital ('bedehouse').

<2> Waites, Bryan (ed), 1988, Rutland Record, No. 8, No. 8 (1988), p281 (Journal). SLE6780.

It is not known when the Bishops Palace was built, but it was rebuilt/altered at various times:
Bishop Burghersh (1320-1340) is said to have embattled and fortified it, and constructed fishponds; Bishop Russell (1480-1495) probably rebuilt and resided in it; Bishop Smith (1496) extended or completed it; Bishop Longland (1521) possibly carried out more work.
Over the fireplace their arms can be seen (a chevron between three roses, and a large red rose crowned).
Bishop Holbeach gave the building up to Thomas Cromwell at the Dissolution, and after his execution his son Gregory took it over. On his death it was given by Edward VI to the Cecils, who in 1602 turned it into a Bede House, or Almshouse for the poor.

<3> Waites, Bryan (ed), 1991, Rutland Record, No. 11, No. 11 (1991), p14-17 (Journal). SLE6782.

Records of the visits of Bishop Sutton to Lyddington, 1282-1298.

<4> 1981-2, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 57, Vol 57 (1981-2), p1-16 (Journal). SLE5952.

There is documentary evidence for a bishop's residence at Lyddington in 1209. Drainage works in 1976 and 1980 recorded a moat close to the present Bede House in the mid/late C12th. This excavation recorded an early hall lying to the north-west and at right angles to the existing Bede House range, with a hearth, as well as other buildings (Phase 1). The archaeological evidence also places the second great hall on the same site and alignment as the early hall, dating from the early/mid C14th (Phase 2). In the late C14th/early C15th various works appear to have taken place to upgrade the buildings (Phase 3). Alterations dating from the late C15th/early C16th are visible in the standing building (Phase 4). Following the dissolution, in the early C17th the building was converted into a 'bedehouse'.

<5> 1982-3, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 58, Vol 58 (1982-3), p90 (Journal). SLE5963.

In Summer 1983 HBMC's CEU excavated north-west of the Bedehouse and revealed medieval stone buildings and ditches.

<6> Linford, Neil, 1991, Bede House, Lyddington, Leicestershire: Report on Geophysical Survey, 1991 (Unpublished document). SLE2531.

Resistivity survey was undertaken in 1991 by English Heritage. The survey failed to define buried archaeological features confidently, though in the southern walled garden three areas of high readings could represent the accumulation of building material/rubble from the former structures, and an area of low resistance could represent a backfilled ditch/moat.

<7> Hunt, A, 2004, An archaeological watching brief at Lyddington Bede House, Lyddington, Rutland (Unpublished document). SLE2243.

A watching brief undertaken in 2004 in connection with the replacement of underground electrical cabling revealed a number of features including part of a wall, a possible hearth and an earth closet. Medieval pottery and an C13th splash ware ridge tile were recovered along with post-medieval pottery and a possible Victorian bone handled brush.
Report is in ADS Library: doi:10.5284/1010228 - http://dx.doi.org/10.5284/1010228

<8> Clough, Tim (ed), 2006, Rutland Record, No. 26, No. 26 (2006), p219 (Journal). SLE7153.

The 2004 watching brief was noted in the Rutland Record.

<9> Alexander, Magnus, 2009, Lyddington Bede House, Archaeological Field Investigation, Internal Report (Unpublished document). SLE6148.

English Heritage research suggested that there was a Norman enclosure on the site of the later bishops palace. The palace developed in the C13th/C14th, with a precinct wall. It probably had a single main entrance marked by a gatehouse. Earthworks in the south-east of the walled area may represent the site of a former tower; the octagonal tower at the south corner of the existing walled garden has been dated to the C15th. The Little Park was first recorded in a survey of 1348/9, east of the Bede House running down to the river (and including the fishponds). The Great Park was located in the north of the parish.
Report is in ADS Library: doi:10.5284/1058180 - https://doi.org/10.5284/1058180

<10> Walford, John, 2012, An archaeological watching brief at Lyddington Bede House, Lyddington, Rutland (Unpublished document). SLE4376.

A watching brief on a posthole for a new sign in 2012 recovered four fragments of sheep bone.
Report is in ADS Library: 10.5284/1027774- http://dx.doi.org/10.5284/1027774

<11> Elkin, Kathleen (ed), 2015, Medieval Leicestershire: Recent Research on the Medieval Archaeology of Leicestershire, p80, p83, "Medieval houses of SE Leicestershire and Rutland", Nick Hill (Bibliographic reference). SLE5149.

Excavated evidence shows a very large hall of c.1320-40, to which the surviving building acted as a chamber block (the chamber block is largely a creation of the C15th/early C16th).

<12> McK Clough, TH (ed), 2000, Rutland Record, No. 20, No. 20 (2000), p415-424 (Journal). SLE6852.

Bishop Burghersh of Lincoln was granted licence to crenellate his palace at Lyddington in 1336.


<1>Bibliographic reference: Liddle, P.. 1983. A Guide to 20 Archaeological Sites in Leicestershire.
<2>Journal: Waites, Bryan (ed). 1988. Rutland Record, No. 8. No. 8 (1988), p281.
<3>Journal: Waites, Bryan (ed). 1991. Rutland Record, No. 11. No. 11 (1991), p14-17.
<4>Journal: 1981-2. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 57. Vol 57 (1981-2), p1-16.
<5>Journal: 1982-3. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 58. Vol 58 (1982-3), p90.
<6>Unpublished document: Linford, Neil. 1991. Bede House, Lyddington, Leicestershire: Report on Geophysical Survey, 1991.
<7>Unpublished document: Hunt, A. 2004. An archaeological watching brief at Lyddington Bede House, Lyddington, Rutland.
<8>Journal: Clough, Tim (ed). 2006. Rutland Record, No. 26. No. 26 (2006), p219.
<9>Unpublished document: Alexander, Magnus. 2009. Lyddington Bede House, Archaeological Field Investigation, Internal Report.
<10>Unpublished document: Walford, John. 2012. An archaeological watching brief at Lyddington Bede House, Lyddington, Rutland.
<11>Bibliographic reference: Elkin, Kathleen (ed). 2015. Medieval Leicestershire: Recent Research on the Medieval Archaeology of Leicestershire. p80, p83, "Medieval houses of SE Leicestershire and Rutland", Nick Hill.
<12>Journal: McK Clough, TH (ed). 2000. Rutland Record, No. 20. No. 20 (2000), p415-424.

Associated Finds

  • CARVING (Medieval - 1067 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SHERD (Medieval - 1067 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Medieval - 1067 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RIDGE TILE (Early Medieval - 1201 AD to 1300 AD)


  • Listed Building (I) 1264528: THE BEDE HOUSE, LYDDINGTON
  • Conservation Area: Lyddington

Associated Images

1983 excavation of Bishops Palace, Lyddington
© Leicestershire County Council
1983 excavation of Bishops Palace, Lyddington
© Leicestershire County Council
1983 excavation of Bishops Palace, Lyddington
© Leicestershire County Council
1983 excavation of Bishops Palace, Lyddington
© Leicestershire County Council
Lyddington Bede House, stained glass windows (unknown date)
© Leicestershire County Council