Salisbury, Wilts  -  Clarendon Palace

12th century

An important royal palace throughout the Middle Ages but now little more than an overgrown site. Notes in italics from Wiltshire by Nikolaus Pevsner Revised by Bridget Cherry (1975) Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

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Clarendon appears in a document as a military gathering-place as early as the 1070s. By 1130 or earlier it must have been a royal habitation. Henry II and then Henry III made it into a palace - a palace, not a castle; for even at the time of its greatest extension it was not fortified. ..... The palace was much in use throughout the C14 and to the later C15. What remained in the C18 was engraved by Stukeley in 1723. In the C20 nearly all was gone or smothered in trees and undergrowth  In 1933 Professor Tancred Borenius began excavations, and these were continued to just before the Second World War. ... (Pevsner goes on to outline the various parts of the palace as discovered in the excavations). ... The war and the death of Professor Borenius cut excavations short, and today Clarendon is a tragedy. ... One crag of wall stands up. All the rest is back to its sleeping beauty. Surely, out of respect for English history if for no other reason, these remains ought to be as clearly visible as those of Old Sarum.

However, some conservation and improvement work is now taking place under a 5-year plan (2000-2005). See details at King Alfred's College website. 

Some historical associations:

Perhaps most significantly, the Constitutions of Clarendon, which have been described as England's first constitution. Promulgated here by King Henry II in 1164 as a definition of church-state relations in England, they provoked the quarrel between the king and his archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The text can be read here.

Under King Edward III, two kings were held captive here - David, king of Scotland, and John, king of France. 

King Henry VI had his first onset of insanity here in 1453. 


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