The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Woodstock Palaces

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Everswell; Wudestok Wodestok

In the civil parish of Blenheim.
In the historic county of Oxfordshire.
Modern Authority of Oxfordshire.
1974 county of Oxfordshire.
Medieval County of Oxfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP43921657
Latitude 51.84609° Longitude -1.36365°

Woodstock Palaces has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are no visible remains.


Woodstock was a Royal Manor and there is a record of a royal building there in 1129. Aethelred II (979-1016) held council at Woodstock but it is not known if this represents a predecessor to the 1129 Palace. It continued as a Royal Palace until the latter 15th c and was used occasionally thereafter (Elizabeth I was lodged there when Mary Tudor was on the throne). The Palace eventually fell into disrepair but was "patched-up" by Vanbrugh as his own residence when he was building Blenheim Palace. It was pulled down c 1720 and its materials used in the filling of the Grand bridge and the causeway. The site is said to have been covered by mud dredged from the lake in 1896.
The Palace is associated with Rosamund Clifford (Fair Rosamund) mistress of Henry II, and by tradition the oldest part of the Palace was called Fair Rosamund's Tower and said to have been joined to the Palace proper by a drawbridge. This fits in well with the view of the palace in Plot's "Natural History of Oxfordshire" which suggests a motte and bailey. The OS siting accords with Thomas Pryce's map of Blenheim (1789). (HKW; Renn; Green; Taunt)
There is nothing at the site today except an ornamental pillar dated 1802, presumably brought from elsewhere to support a concrete tablet,dated 1961, saying that this marks the site of the Palace. (Field Investigators Comments F1 CFW 14-JAN-72)
The palace seems to have been defensible, based upon the evidence of Plot's depiction of the palace. Its relation to the Stephanic castle documented there as fortified on behalf of the Empress Matilda in 1141 is not known. (King 1983) (PastScape)

Possible site for recorded Stephanic castle, although this may have been in Woodstock Town. Renn (1973) writes 'the view in Plot suggests a motte beside the raised bailey in which the house stood. Woodstock palace was quite heavily walled. Everswell was an adjacent but separate group of buildings in the palace complex built for Rosamund Clifford in the 1170's

In 1249 the queens chamber at Woodstock was ordered to be crenellated and in 1251 John Haneberg was ordered to crenellate the queen's chapel and the kings chamber. It is difficult to see these as anything other than decorative battlements. This shows that as early as 1249 crenellations were an important decorative element.

Blenheim Palace and its grounds, including the locations of the medieval palaces, are a World Heritage site although this is for the C18 buildings and landscaping by 'Capability' Brown.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER            
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:07

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact