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King Johns Palace, Writtle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Writtle.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL676068
Latitude 51.73497° Longitude 0.42648°

King Johns Palace, Writtle has been described as a certain Palace, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The moat, about 50ft wide and 8ft deep, encloses an area of 250ft by 150ft. The fishpond to the east is now a reservoir. The site was excavated in 1955-7 before bull-dozing for agricultural purposes. Three periods of building corresponding roughly to the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries were seen, the first within, and the later periods extending east and west of, the moated area. Small finds were numerous.
1. The hunting lodge built by King John in 1211, repaired in 1223, 1229-32. Kitchen, chamber, chapel and gaol are mentioned.
2. Documentary evidence suggests that the 14th century hall and chapel lay further to the west, otherwise the layout was similar to that of the first period.
3. In the 15th century the main buildings, including a cloister and great chamber, were at the west end. The kitchen remained at the east end. One of the latest buildings, a large barn built in 1478, still stands near the site.
The site passed from the Crown to the Bohun family in the 14th century. (This site was published on earlier OS maps as "Site of King John's Palace" and, in view of the importance of the buildings added to the 12th century hunting lodge, may rank as a 'palatial dwelling place'). Writtle was royal manor from at least the reign of William I. It was first developed as a hunting lodge by King John in 1211, and was in royal hands until 1553. In 1566 all that remained was a great barn and the earthworks of the moat. (PastScape)

The fish pond had been filled in, lined with concrete and was now a reservoir. No structural remains of medieval buildings visible. Formerly ancient monument 93. Descheduled monument 1963. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1347 Dec 22 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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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Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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