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WOLVESEY CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  WOLVESEY PALACE, OLD BISHOPS PALACE
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The remains of Wolvesey Castle, the palace built for the Bishops of Winchester. It was established in the 10th century as a Saxon chapel. After the Norman Conquest in 1066 the site was greatly extended when William Giffard, the second Norman bishop built the west hall in about 1110. The majority of the extant buildings, however, are the creation of Henry of Blois (bishop in 1129-71). He was an extremely powerful and wealthy man, brother of King Stephen, and the grandson of William the Conqueror. His palace included the east hall and chapel, later linked by a perimeter wall, keep-like kitchen, and the remodelling of what became known as Wymond's Tower. A new gatehouse was subsequently built after the civil wars during King Stephen's reign. The palace was arranged around an inner courtyard, surrounded on three sides by a moat. Bishop William Wykeham carried out a major programme of repair and refurbishment, including dredging the moat; and Cardinal Beaufort carried out further works in the 15th century. Wolvesey became used for state occasions from the early 14th century, rather than as a principal residence. The palace remained in the bishop of Winchester's hands after the Reformation, and the last grand state occasion was the wedding banquet of Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain in 1554. The palace also had an outer courtyard with stables, barns, and the bishop's prison and wool house. Much of the bishop's wealth derived from the wool trade. In 1684 Bishop George Morley had Sir Christopher Wren build a new palace on the site; it retained the 11th century chapel but the moat was filled and a new baroque palace built to the south. Wolvesay became neglected by the mid 18th century due to the bishops' preference for Farnham Castle, and in 1785 the baroque palace was demolished, except for the west wing. The wing underwent several changes of use, finally reverting to the bishop's house in 1936. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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