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THE MANOR-HOUSE OF
BY JOHN BILSON, F.S.A.
The manor house of the bishops of Durham was situated to the south-east of the church. Its site is now occupied by the modern vicarage, and by the house to the east of it. The principal buildings were arranged around the four sides of a court, which was approached from the town by a gate on the north side. Some considerable remains of the buildings have survived, and in fact there is more than has generally been recognized
The manor house has been the subject of two papers, one by the late Rev. Chancellor Raine, and the other by the late Rev. W. Hutchinson, who was vicar of Howden from 1862 to 1902, and for many years a member of the Council of our Society. These papers relate what is known of the history of the house, and are in most respects so complete that there would have been no reason for my attempting to supplement what has been written by such justly esteemed authorities but for one consideration, which I discussed when the Royal Archæological Institute visited Howden in 1903, viz. that both writers were mistaken in their explanation of the existing remains in relation to the general plan of the house. As their conclusions have been adopted by others, it is desirable that the reasons for questioning their accuracy should be stated, and that an attempt should be made to explain what has survived in the light of what is known of the plan of the house before the greater part of it was destroyed.
In his paper, Canon Raine printed two surveys of the house, one of 15614 which gives a very full description of the buildings,
1 This house, which is the property 2 On the Episcopal Palace at Howden, of Sir John Sherburn, is occupied by by the Rev. Canon Raine, in the AssoMr. P. Kettlewell, who has kindly ciated Architectural Societies' Reports, viii given me every facility for its examina- (1366), 295-302. tion. I have also to thank the vicar, 3 The Ancient Maror-house of the the Rev. G. T. W. Purchas, for similar Bishops of Durham at Howden, Yorkshire, facilities and much kind help. For by the Rev. W. Hutchinson, in the permission to reproduce the photographs Yorkshire Archæological Journal, ix here illustrated, I have to thank Mr. (1886), 384-393. H. E. Illingworth (for fig. 2), Mr. J. V. * Ecclesiastical Commission, File Saunders (for figs. 3 and 4), and Messrs. No. 70,019, Durham Bishoprick Estates, Parrish and Berry, of Hull (for fig. 5). Howden Palace.
and the other, a dilapidation survey of 1577 which furnishes some additional particulars. The earlier survey is invaluable for its explanation of the arrangement of the buildings. Canon Raine's paper is illustrated by a plan compiled from these surveys by Mr. Charles T. Newstead, architect, of York, whi gives a good idea of the disposition of the buildings, though it takes no account of the precise configuration of the site, and it has apparently been drawn without any reference to the evidence which still exists on the spot. It shows the court as rectangular, which it was not, and this involves some inaccuracies, as will be seen by comparing it with the plan here reproduced.
The most obvious of the existing remains (and indeed all that our two writers believed to be mediæval, except the fruithouse) are bishop Skirlaw's building (now used as a dairy) attached to the western part of the north side of Mr. Kettlewell's house, and cardinal Langley's gateway immediately west of the vicarage house. Of these existing remains, Canon Raine wrote thus :
"The greater part of the gateway towards the north may still be seen. It is made of brick, and bears the arms of Cardinal Langley. One bay, also, of the vaulting under the bishop's lodging is in existence, now used as a dairy, and bearing the arms of the munificent Bishop Skirlaw, who erected it. The fruit-house is the only other portion of the palace that has been preserved. It stands on a little bridge crossing the moat, but it has been much tampered with. On the west side of the gate-house there is a building with a somewhat ancient air ; but it cannot be ascribed to a period earlier than the reign of Charles II. Of course some old materials have been used up in it; and they may also be traced in the modern parsonage house which is at a short distance from it.”1
The Rev. W. Hutchinson followed Canon Raine, with some amplifications, in making the existing gateway to be the north gateway, but, recognizing that the present dairy was obviously a porch, he made it to be the porch at the west end of the bishop's lodging, which was the northernmost building on the east side of the court. If these attributions were correct, the northern side of the court must have been on the line of the present vicarage house and of the house to the east of it, and the western side must have extended into the present churchyard
1 Op. cit., p. 302.
considerably to the west of the old wall which bounds the vicarage garden on the west. Testing this view by the relative positions of the buildings as described in the survey of 1561, the actual distance between the west side of the porch and the east side of the gateway opening is about 117 feet, whereas the distance from the north gateway to the porch at the west end of the bishop's lodging (which Mr. Hutchinson suggested) cannot, according to the survey, have been as much as half this length. Even if the porch were a bay of the vault beneath the bishop's lodging, as Canon Raine suggested, the same objection would apply in less degree. Moreover the existing porch was obviously entered from the north, and was disengaged on three of its sides, east, north, and west. This would be impossible for any part of a vault under the bishop's lodging, and the porch at the west end of the bishop's lodging must certainly have been engaged on the east, and almost certainly entered from the west. Nor could this porch have been further to the north than the gateway, as it actually is. It is evident therefore that these attributions must be rejected.
The true explanation is that the present dairy is the porch of the great hall built by bishop Skirlaw, and the existing house to which it is attached represents the structure of the hall itself. The existing gateway is the western gate recorded as having been built by cardinal Langley, and it led from the south-western corner of the court to the close and orchard. The court lay to the north of these buildings, and the lines of the buildings around its west, north, and east sides are fixed by the existing walls on the west and north sides of the vicarage garden, and by that on the east side of the garden in front of Mr. Kettlewell's house.
I will now proceed to show, with the aid of the accompanying plan? (fig. 1), how this explanation fits the existing facts and the description of the buildings in the survey of 1561. This plan is simply intended to illustrate the relation of the existing remains to the general plan of the house, and makes no attempt to show in detail any of the buildings which have been destroyed. For a conjectural plan of these, I must refer the reader to Mr. Newstead's plan. On my plan, existing walls
1 The plan (fig. 1) has been drawn from The building which this map shows my own measurements. The destroyed as then standing on the site of the present western building has been added from vicarage house had nothing to do with the ordnance survey map of Howden the mediæval plan, of 1847 (sheet 2), scale 5 feet to one mile,