Record Details

NHER Number:5555
Type of record:Monument
Name:Gaywood Hall, site of medieval Bishop's Palace and moat


A hall of 1851, built on the site of a medieval moated Bishop's Palace. Excavations prior to building works in the late 20th century found traces of thick wall foundations and large quantities of medieval pottery, coins and so on. Also found were fragments of a 14th century marble pillar. The house itself has had various uses since the 1930s, and is currently the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology.


  • The mid 19th century facade of Gaywood Hall  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TF 6380 2005
Map Sheet:TF62SW

Full description

Great house on site of Bishop's Palace, formerly moated. Licence to crenellate granted in 1388 to Bishop Spencer. (S5) refers to an inner and outer moat. A footnote states that both moats existed until the late 18th century and that the inner moat was filled in when the present hall was built in 1856. (S9) recorded in 1740 that the hall was moated but rebuilt. A plan supplied by the Borough Council shows a bank enclosing an area south of the hall on the east and west, removed by a housing estate in the 1960s.
Animal engine house in outbuildings (information from NIAS, no further details).
E. Rose (NLA), 16 July 1985, amended A. Cattermole (King's Lynn UAD), 28 February 2020.

Transcript of 19th century letter (S1) in file.
Architectural plans (S3) and press cutting (S4) in file.

May-June 1984. Watching Brief.
Excavations for extension revealed much medieval masonry, pottery, coin, plus prehistoric sherds and a small assemblage of Mesolithic or Neolithic worked flints.
See details and watching brief report in file.
Finds from this work are now held by the King's Lynn Museum (KILLM : 1986.11.10-15).
E. Rose (NAU), 21 August 1985. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 6 March 2014.

1985. Geophysical Survey.
Resistivity survey.
The survey revealed some wall footings but no clear building plan.
See report (S2) for further details.
E. Rose, 25 October 1994.

1994. Geophysical Survey.
Resisitivity and gradiometer survey undertaken as part of evaluation in advance of proposed new building.
The results contain a number of anomalies that may be archaeologically significant, and while some might be associated with garden features, others may relate to the former bishop's palace.
See report (S7) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 23 February 2014.

2004. Field observation.
The present hall consists of a centre block, faced in flint and with gault brick detailing, of two storeys in three bays. The windows are tripartite and a central boxed-in porch has columns at the corners. There is a parapet. To each side is a wing with parapet, that to the east being separated from the central block by a square water tower dated 1851 in large numerals.
(S9) takes 1851 to be the date of the entire building which he says was built for Richard Bagge. However, [1] suggested that the central section may be the house of the 1780s, recoated. Since making this suggestion [1] has found the 1851 building accounts which state that the old building had to be totally demolished.
Parts of the carstone walls of the grounds, and a lodge, remain to the north.
E. Rose (NLA), 27 November 2004, amended by E. Rose.

March 2012.
Listing application for Gaywood Hall and a scheduling application for the Bishop's Palace submitted to English Heritage.
Media notices indicate that the Council are willing to dispose of the Borough nurseries site (the old Hall kitchen gardens) with "planning permission pending" for eight detached houses.
Although the scheduling application covers only the Hall grounds, the inner moat line is almost certainly under the nurseries site alongside the boundary with the Hall grounds; the outer moat line may also lie under it (S6).
D. Gurney (HES), 19 March 2012.

April 2018. Trial Trenching.
Evaluation of Gaywood Nursery site (formerly the hall's kitchen gardens), ahead of its proposed development.
A large infilled feature was identified, the depth and form of which could not be established. Its date is also uncertain as finds were limited to three post-medieval pottery sherds, all of which were recovered from a dump of charcoal-rich material within the uppermost part of the feature. It therefore remains possible that this was either a section of moat or a fish pond associated with the medieval Bishop’s Palace. It is certainly possibly that it is a north-to-south aligned feature, which would be the expected orientation of the section of moat thought to have passed through this part of the site.
An undated north-to-south aligned ditch lay immediately to the east of the large feature.
Evidence that was probably associated with the site’s use as a kitchen garden from the mid-19th century onwards included the remains of paths, features interpreted as planting beds and a single post-hole. The positions of these features clearly correspond with those depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map.
No other finds were recovered.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2018.93).
See report (S8) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 11 November 2018.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • MOAT (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD? to 1856 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BISHOPS PALACE (Medieval to 16th Century - 1388 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ANIMAL POWER SITE (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD? to 2050 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GARDEN FEATURE (18th Century to 19th Century - 1780 AD? to 1900 AD)
  • GREAT HOUSE (18th Century to 19th Century - 1780 AD to 1851 AD)
  • GREAT HOUSE (19th Century to 21st Century - 1851 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds

  • CORE? (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC?)
  • FLAKE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC?)
  • POT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 62 SW 37.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Photograph: Rose, E.. 2004. [unknown].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---*Rolled Plan: Large Plan Exists.
---Photograph: CSX.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Transcript of 19th century letter.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Shiel, D. 1986. Resistivity Survey at Gaywood Hall, King's Lynn, Norfolk. Ancient Monuments Laboratory. 42/86.
<S3>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1980. Positive evidence of bishop's palace. 1 February.
<S5>Article in Serial: Bradfer-Lawrence, H. L. 1931. Gaywood Dragge, 1486-7. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXIV Pt II pp 146-183. pp 146, 153.
<S6>*Verbal Communication: James, Elizabeth. 2012. [unknown].
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Shiel, D. 1994. Report on Geophysical Survey. Gaywood Hall, Norfolk College. Geophysical Surveys of Bradford. 94/82.
<S8>Unpublished Contractor Report: Telford, A. 2018. Archaeological Evaluation Report: Trial Trenching on land at Gaywood Nurseries, King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Allen Archaeology. AAL2018086.
<S9>Documentary Source: Martin, T. c. 1700-1799. Collections of Church Notes. Norfolk Records Office. 1740.
<S9>Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 356.

Related records - none

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