thames discovery programme
Fulham Palace FHM07
The zone is approximately 450m long and 50m wide. The access to the siteis via a set of stone stairs in Bishops Park; the stairs can be slippery buthave handrails on either side. The gate to the stairs is often locked. Thewestern extent of the zone is defined by a drainage apron while PutneyBridge forms the downstream boundary. The ground conditions on the siteare very firm and generally the site is very safe.
archaeological and historical background
The riverside site has yielded a wide variety of archaeological artefacts from the Neolithicperiod, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Residual worked flint and ceramics were recoveredduring excavations by the Fulham Archaeological Rescue Group in 1972-3.
Evidence of Roman activity in the area was confirmed by the discovery on the Fulham foreshoreof a 1
sword which is displayed in the British Museum. Furtherexcavations across the moat of Fulham Palace have revealed 3
- and 4
-century Romano-British pottery, coins and building material, while a Roman ditch has been excavatedimmediately north of the palace itself. It has also been suggested that the area of the palacewas a possible site for a Roman settlement controlling the crossing point to Putney.
From the Anglo-Saxon period (c.500-1100 AD) a small number of finds have been excavatedprobably indicating a small settlement within (pre-existing?) earthworks. Historical records showthat in c.704 AD the Manor was purchased by Waldhere, Bishop of London to form part of hisestates. During the winter of 879-880 AD a party of Vikings set up camp within the area.
records this occupation: ‘In this yea
r a body of the pagans drew together
and sat down in winter quarters at Fulham on the Thames’.
By the 12
century, the Bishop’s
Manor house had been established within a double-ditchedmoated enclosure. A courtyard house was constructed during the 13
century and there werefurther extensions to the Palace during the Tudor and Georgian periods. Finally, during the 19thcentury a Chapel was added. The Moat enclosing the palace, being approximately 10ft wideand up to 8ft deep, and almost one mile in length was one of the longest in England. The Moatwas drained, filled-in and landscaped in 1921-24.
The gardens of the palace were from the 16
century one of the most important botanicalgardens in London. Features included a Tudor walled garden with a vineyard created by BishopGrindal and a series of ornate parterre gardens, as shown on R
ocque’s map. Henry Compton,
Bishop of London 1675-1713 introduced a collection of North American plants to the garden,including magnolia, tulip, walnut and maple trees. The Bishops of London used the palace as asummer residence and would have travelled
from St. Paul’s Cathedral by episcopal barge or boat. They would have disembarked at the Bishop’s Steps (landing stage) at Bishops Park. It is
possible that there was a boat house or inlet close to the Palace to house the barge and boats.
Fulham Palace is a Grade I listed building standing within a Scheduled AncientMonument.