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Wolvesey Castle

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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East Hall

An impressive 27m long, the East Hall was meant to impress important guests and hold large assemblies. The East Hall was likely built in 1138, the year Winchester Annals note "Bishop Henry built a house like a palace." During the Middle Ages the East Hall was used for state occasions. In February 1403 it was the site of King Henry IV and Joan of Navarre's wedding feast. The Palace Kitchens were used to prepare for the feast: cygnets, venison, rabbits, partridges, woodcock, plover, quail, snipe, roast kid, custards, fritters, cream of almonds and pears in syrup.

Palace Kitchens

Built between 1141-1153 by Henry, the building appears externally to be a tower. Its thin walls indicate that despite its intention to impress, it was always destined to be the palace kitchens. High ceilings prevented heat and odor accumulation. Adjacent to the kitchen was a serving room where dishes were finalized before being taken to the East Hall. For 500 years this building served as kitchens.


The bishops grew wealthy via rents, fees and produce garnered from their vast landholdings. The estate manors tallied their accounts annually and sent profits as cash directly to the Treasury at Wolvesey. This profit totaled £5,188 (£2 million today) in 1301-1302 alone. Spanning 1208/9-1710/11, the Winchester Pipe Rolls were annual accounts of the bishop's income and expenditure; after the 1370s these were likely stored at Wolvesey, and today are held by the Hampshire Record Office.