Retired banker unearths medieval bishop's palace in garden during building work

Ellen Manning
·2 min read
The site of a medieval bishop's palace has been unearthed in Wiveliscombe during building work on a bungalow. The discovery of the important remains was made on the land of Charles Pole as he was having building work done on a new bungalow. Wiveliscombe, Somerset. 10 March 2021.  See SWNS story SWBRpalace. An OAP building a bungalow in his garden uncovered the remains of a long lost PALACE - solving a centuries-old mystery. Retired banker Charles Pole, 81, had hoped to move into the one-storey home and sell his house. But that is all on hold and he says he is facing a 15K bill after a 700-year-old Bishop's Palace was found under his lawn. The ancient building dates from the 13th Century and was in ruins by the 18th Century and then disappeared.
Remains of a medieval bishop's palace were unearthed in Charles Pole's garden in Wiveliscombe during building work. (SWNS)

A retired banker has uncovered the remains of a medieval bishop's palace in his garden - putting his building plans on hold and landing him with a potential five-figure bill.

Charles Pole, 81, is building a bungalow in his garden that he can move into and sell his house.

But construction of his new home has unearthed the ruins of a 700-year-old Bishop's Palace dating back to the 1300s.

The find solves a mystery for local historians, who have apparently been baffled for 200 years as to the palace's whereabouts and thought it was at another site.

But the discovery under the 81-year-old's home in Wiveliscombe, Somerset in the aptly-named Palace Gardens is slightly less positive for Pole, whose work has now ground to a halt.

Charles Pole, 81, had hoped to move into the bungalow he's building and sell his house, but work is on hold following the historic discovery. (SWNS)
Charles Pole, 81, had hoped to move into the bungalow he's building and sell his house, but work is on hold following the historic discovery. (SWNS)

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He said: "I live on my own in a house in Palace Gardens and I'm disabled. I was having a bungalow built in the garden for myself and plan to sell the house.

"When the builder saw the remains, he was ordered to stop work. It came as a big surprise.

"It was exciting to hear the site contains something of real significance, but the cost of the investigation is going to cost me around £15,000 and has delayed the bungalow."

A spokesperson for the South West Heritage Trust said substantial wall foundations and floor deposits had been uncovered.

"They are believed to be part of the original foundations of the Bishop’s Palace complex," the spokesperson said.

"The building remains are clearly of medieval date and represent two phases of development on the site."

The discovery solves a mystery after historians thought the palace was at another site. (SWNS)
The discovery solves a mystery after historians thought the palace was at another site. (SWNS)

Historic documents include references to the Bishops of Bath and Wells carrying out major building works in Wiveliscombe in the 1300s, while pottery from the 12th Century has also been found at the site.

The spokesperson added: "The remains are a significant find and the landowner, archaeologists, builder and architect are working to protect and record the site.

"The development is being monitored by archaeologists from the South West Heritage Trust as part of the planning requirements."

The site will be protected before being covered over, allowing building work on the bungalow to go ahead.

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