Originally built in the 15th-century as a palace for the Archbishop of York, this historic castle was damaged extensively by Parliamentarians after the English Civil War. In the Georgian period, the remaining habitable parts of the Palace was home to a “respectable seminary for young ladies” as well as being used as the local magistrate’s court.
In the late 19th century parts of the Palace were restored as an episcopal residency when the nearby Minster obtained cathedral status. Today, the restored part of the building is often filled with the sound of singing from the Song School, an integral part of Southwell Minster since the 13th century.
This part of the building is not open to the public but visitors are free to go to the first-floor stateroom, said to be the place where Cardinal Wolseley made his last desperate efforts to obtain the annulment of the first marriage of Henry VIII. In the 17th century, the palace was the first place of captivity of Charles I, who was captured by the Scottish Allies of Oliver Cromwell towards the end of the English Civil War.
Know Before You Go
The ruined part of the palace is not accessible to the public from the interior, but a publicly accessible sensory garden allows access to the ruined exterior walls. The highlight of this part of the tour is the "Latrine Tower," an example of a 15th-century sanitation provision, which once housed a four place, side by side, drop latrine which delivered its excrement into a pit about 15 feet below.