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Bere Regis Palace

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Court Green; Court Farm

In the civil parish of Bere Regis.
In the historic county of Dorset.
Modern Authority of Dorset.
1974 county of Dorset.
Medieval County of Dorset.

OS Map Grid Reference: SY84929466
Latitude 50.75141° Longitude -2.21546°

Bere Regis Palace has been described as a probable Palace, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A little east of Bere Regis church, on the river bank, stood the ancient seat of the Turbevilles. The building was of stone, the west part being built or repaired by Thomas Turberville, who died in 1587. Under a window at the back of the house was a date 1648, but the building was destroyed "some time since". Local tradition states that King John had a castle at Bere, on the spot where in later times stood the mansion of the Turbervilles. It is probable however, that the tradition states refers to a manor-house appendant to the Royal possessions in the parish. (Hutchin 1861).
The field where this manor house stood is now under grass but contains two level platforms which may have some association (F1 JR 16-SEP-52)
No historical evidence was discovered to associate the Royal palace with the site of the manor house. The two platforms mentioned are possibly steadings of the original house and outbuildings. Surveyed at SY 84839471 (F2 FDC 14-JAN-53).
In the field centred at SY 84849468 are three level platforms and two rectangular depressions bounded by scarps. The scarps are ploughed down but the platform at SY 84839471 has a scarp on the south up to 2.0m. high. This could be the site of a major building (F3 JGB 16-FEB-81). (PastScape hob 456209)

Bere Regis. Bere had been a royal demense manor since before the Conquest but there is no evidence that there was a royal residence here until King John built one in 1201-4. It included a mews, a chamber and a chapel and a new kitchen which was built in 1208. John resided here on many occasions in order to hunt in the neighbouring forest of Bere, but Henry III does not seem to have favoured the place. In 1229 he ordered his chamber and chapel to be repaired but after this there are no further references to works at Bere. The exact site of the royal house is not known (HKW). (PastScape hob 456330)

Despite the demolition of the manor house, much of the manorial settlement at Court Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument, the landscape in which it was constructed and the economy of the community. Historical sources, including maps, provide a clear indication of the site's original extent.
The monument includes a manorial settlement at Court Farm, situated on level ground to the north east of the Bere Stream. The area of the manorial settlement is depicted on a map produced by Isaac Taylor in 1770. This shows the manor house and additional structures at Court Farm, all enclosed within an area to the south east of Bere Church. The eastern area of the settlement is called 'Back Close' and is associated with many of the ancillary structures. The manor house formed the principal home of the Turberville family. The structure was stone-built and constructed or extensively renovated by Thomas Tuberville prior to 1587. Hutchins describes the house as 'a large hall with an oriel window'. Little other detail is known, as the house was demolished around 1830. The site of the manor house is now marked by foundation levels which are visible as earthworks. These include two raised platforms with maximum dimensions of 12m-20m by 25m-40m and c.0.5m in height, two sunken platforms of similar proportions and a probable fishpond to the south west with maximum dimensions of 20m by 11m and c.0.5m in depth, associated with an outer bank 5m wide and c.0.35m high. To the east of these earthworks are a pair of stone-built cottages which date from the later 17th century. The cottages are known to occupy the site of former manorial outbuildings, as a drawing dating to 1786 illustrates a granary which has since become incorporated into one of the cottages. (Scheduling Report)

The actual form and location of King John's residence at Bere is unknown but it may have been semi-fortified. The location, the 'court' name and existence of high status features, such as fishponds, makes identification of King John's palace with Court Farm highly probable.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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