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Lamphey Bishop's Palace


Visited May 2015

Location Lamphey, Pembrokeshire 
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby Lamphey
Parking Yes 
Facilities Gift shop, Toilet


The Bishop's Palace at Lamphey was one of the residences of the Bishop of St David's. (See also Llawhaden Castle and St David's Bishop Palace ) Unlike Llawhaden which was a defensive castle, the palace was intended mainly for relaxation when the Bishop was in residence- the beauty of the buildings being one of the most distinctive things about Lamphey.






The most striking of the collection of buildings at Lamphey is the inner gatehouse. A square tower with three decorative arches on each side, the gatehouse stands today in perfect isolation in the middle of the site. However at one point it would have been surrounded by walls, and the first storey rooms would have had a perfect view of anyone arriving at the palace. Although a gatehouse suggests a defensive function, the interior had a latrine so was definitely domestic in use, and was in fact used to separate the Bishop's living quarters from the more mundane buildings in the outer courtyard, such as the storehouses.




Once inside the inner courtyard, the first building you come to is the western hall. Inside of this now roofless building is a fragment of painted plaster, black lines in a brick pattern. This would have part of a larger area of painted plaster which once decorated the interior walls. The fragments date back to the building of the hall in the thirteenth century. 


Beyond the western hall is the hall built by Henry de Gower, Bishop from 1328-47. The hall is set apart from the other buildings, and does not have the usual service rooms which are found in great halls. The highly decorative arcade windows are similar in design to those at St David's Palace, although without the chequer-board tiles. Examples of this can also be found at Swansea Castle .


The remains of the chapel are also impressive, as would be expected in a site used for ecclesiastical purposes. It was added relatively later at around 1522. The east window is still intact, although no longer glazed. Another later addition is the Elizabethan chimney in the old hall, this is post dissolution when the buildings would have been turned over to residential use, probably farming. 







The site today comprises of a large grassed area with the buildings set to the eastern end. The area close to the shop has been planted a garden, with lovely roses trained to the wall. There is also a large covered area with games and toys for children, including chalk boards to whip up a quick picture if desired. 


On leaving the car park you pass through the ruins of the outer gatehouse. After that there is not much in Lamphey. In terms of sustenance we drove to nearby Carew for a meal at the Carew Inn. This is situated opposite Carew Castle & Mill, which is also well worth a visit. 





More info:  CADW Lamphey Bishop's Palace

The Carew Inn

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