The Clarendon Park Project

Submitting Institution

University of Winchester

Unit of Assessment

Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Built Environment and Design: Architecture
History and Archaeology: Archaeology, Historical Studies

Download original


Summary of the impact

Over the last 20 years the Clarendon Park Project (CPP) has investigated and sought to conserve the royal palace, park and hunting lodge of England's Norman and Plantagenet kings at Clarendon, Wiltshire. CPP has broken new ground in both the approach taken and the results obtained, namely in:

  1. Opening of an architecturally and historically important site (Clarendon Palace) to the public.
  2. Communicating new ideas on the organisation/management of medieval 'country' palaces.
  3. Establishing an approach whereby building conservation can take place with involvement/funding from a statutory body (English Heritage), a private landowner, volunteers and a University.

Underpinning research

Clarendon Park is best known for its royal palace, a rare example of a royal residence outside London in the period 1070-1660. The estate was sold by the Crown in 1660, and subsequently passed through the hands of several private owners (including the Earls of Clarendon between 1664 and 1707), but has remained a coherent whole. The present Clarendon Estate, with the palace ruins at its centre, is thus uniquely coterminous with the medieval royal park — the largest in England at 1800ha — and therefore of considerable significance (Richardson 2005, James and Gerrard 2007). Despite its importance the palace and park have until recently been poorly maintained. For example a 1977 letter in The Times noted the shameful condition of the `lost' medieval royal palace of Clarendon. It was this prompt that initiated the UoA's Clarendon Park Project (CPP), which began as Archaeology itself was founded at Winchester in 1978 thereby providing a long-term project from the outset. CPP is therefore by some margin the longest running of any of the UoA's projects. Contributions have been made by successive generations of Winchester staff [key of whom were Annie Robinson, Christopher Gerrard (at Durham since 2000) and Amanda Richardson (at Chichester since 2007), but the majority of Category A staff have led some aspect of the project] under the continuous direction of (now Emeritus) Prof T.B. James. Indeed as is outlined below the UoA will continue to play a key role in CPP in the run-up to REF2020.

The project initially examined and published the backlog of unpublished archaeological excavations by previous investigators from 1933-1965 (e.g. James and Robinson 1988), to contextualise the palace and thus established a base for the conservation and interpretation of the site and surrounding landscape (James 1990). Subsequently with English Heritage (EH), Clarendon Park Estate (CPE), AHRB, British Academy and Institute of Historical Research funding, the next phase of works in the mid-1990s to early-2000s comprised survey (by both students and local volunteers) of the park (Gerrard and James 1996, 1998; Richardson 2005; James and Gerrard 2007), and the reinterpretation of the palace within a contemporary theoretical framework (Richardson 2003). The management plan was, at the time, the first such English Heritage-funded document for an important historic landscape (Gerrard and James 1998). The third phase of work took place from the late 1990s onwards, was funded by EH and CPE, and comprised the restoration/conservation and display of the Palace site to the public (James 2010). These works also included standing building recording and dendrochronological and thermoluminescence (TL) dating (the latter as part of an experiment to test the application of the technique to bricks)(EH 2008). Latterly the Palace site has been cleared of trees so that the entire structure and vistas from it are visible to visiting members of the public. In 2013, in recognition of the interest the Project has sparked over the last 36 years, the Friends of Clarendon Palace and Park (FCP) was inaugurated as a formal association with its secretariat based at the University. An outline bid by the FCP to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and incorporating a new survey by the UoA (Marter and Wilkinson), had just been approved in July 2013.

A full summary of the UoA's research results at Clarendon is available at:

References to the research

The following are examples of major publications of the Clarendon project produced by staff while members of Winchester UoA 17 (see also the 1998 Management Plan listed in Section 5):

James, T.B. (2010) Clarendon. Landscape, Palace and Mansion. Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Salisbury.

James, T.B. and Gerrard, C.M. (2007) Clarendon: Landscape of Kings. Windgather Press, Macclesfield.


Richardson, A. (2005) The Forest, Park and Palace Of Clarendon, c.1200-c.1650: reconstructing an actual, conceptual and documented Wiltshire landscape. British Archaeological Reports British Series 387. Archaeopress, Oxford.

Richardson, A. (2003) `Gender & Space in English Royal Palaces c.1160-c.1547: a study in access analysis and imagery'. Medieval Archaeology 47, 131-65.


James, T. B. (1990) The Palaces of Medieval England c.1050-1550: royalty, nobility, the episcopate and their residences from Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII. Seaby, London.

James, T.B. and Robinson, A. M. (1988) Clarendon Palace: the History and Archaeology of a Medieval Palace and Hunting Lodge near Salisbury, Wiltshire. Society of Antiquaries of London, London.


Details of the impact

In his book on the buildings of Wiltshire, Nikolaus Pevsner (1965, 181) wrote of Clarendon palace 'Today Clarendon is a tragedy. A footpath leads into the wood. One threads one's way through elder and wild clematis. A solitary old iron notice board of the Ministry of Works indicates that one has arrived. One crag of walling stands up. All the rest is back to its sleeping beauty.' Little had changed by 1994 - the royal palace was overgrown, largely unknown by the public and inaccessible (not only hidden by vegetation, but being located on private land with no public access). The work of CPP has resulted in a complete turnaround to such an extent that Clarendon Palace is one of the most visited historic sites in rural Wiltshire and key element of the Clarendon Way long distance footpath. The impact of CPP can therefore be summarised as:

1. Cultural

a. Presenting and informing
The change to Clarendon Palace since 1999 is entirely the consequence of lobbying and subsequent work by past and present UoA members Gerrard and James who in 1998 persuaded English Heritage and the then landowner to fund conservation works (totalling £550,000), not only to stabilise the palace structure, but also to enable the public to visit the palace. The landowner agreed to put in a permissive path from the adjacent Clarendon Way public footpath between Salisbury and Winchester thereby enabling access from Salisbury. CPP then produced accompanying interpretation media that were both emplaced on the site, but also produced in book form (James 2010), to explain the site, its history and conservation to visitors. Both the signboards and the guidebook are a direct product of the research carried out by CPP and as such they incorporate original data collected since 1977 and interpretations made on the basis of those data. As public entrance to the site is free and unmonitored, it is difficult to estimate visitor numbers since the first phase of conservation works were completed in 2005 but judging from the fact that the conserved palace is mentioned as a must see feature in many paper and online hiking guides (e.g. Lonely Planet's Walking in Britain [2007], Hampshire County Council's official guide to the Clarendon Way [2006] and the BBC's Hampshire and Isle of Wight web pages), many hundred members of the public now visit Clarendon Palace annually (estimated at c. 5000 per year on the basis of counts made during CPP's volunteer working days). The opening of the palace site has also meant that guided tours can now take place. James, Richardson and Salisbury Blue Badge holders (for example see the schedule of the latter at, have led dozens of such expeditions since 2005. The net result of the UoA's research, conservation and presentation works is that not only is it now possible for the visitors to view and understand the site, but the site's significance in English History is a great deal better known to a wider public than it was a decade ago. Indeed, dissemination of the project's results to the widest possible public has been a focus of the recent phase of works such that during the present REF census period James has presented lectures and day-schools to local groups of 40-250 people at locations including Salisbury (Museum Society and Spire U3A), Wolverhampton (2009), Winchester (2010), Chipping Sodbury (2011), Nottingham, Truro (2012) and Sidmouth (2013).

b. Training
Although led by James and Gerrard, the Clarendon Park Project has not only been a project by staff and students of the University of Winchester. Rather, since 1994, it has also involved members of the local and regional public — indeed the latter are presently the majority. The volunteers are provided with training in archaeological survey, building recording and building conservation, and while working they also develop a knowledge of the archaeology and history of their landscape. Such volunteer participants are now the mainstay of the Friends of Clarendon group, which not only coordinates the ongoing work on the palace, but also organises an annual Clarendon Lecture in the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum (annual attendances of c 80 since 2010).

2. Environmental impacts
a. Conservation
As will be obvious from the above, the remedial works to preserve Clarendon Palace would not have taken place without the involvement of the UoA in the affairs of the Estate. Not only did Gerrard and James author the bid made to English Heritage to fund the structural and landscaping works on the palace, but following Gerrard's departure for Durham, James led all aspects of the subsequent works. These included repairs made to the walls by stonemasons using original medieval technology and materials, and clearance of scrub (initially using volunteer labour, but later maintained by grazing sheep — and later still, more effectively, by llamas), but also the removal (via controlled archaeological excavation) of the spoil heaps left from previous excavations. James has presented technical aspects of the conservation and presentation project to groups of 30-80 Museum and Conservation professionals at the National Museum of Wales (2008), Centre for the Study of the Country House, Leicester (2009), Wiltshire Buildings Record, Salisbury (2010), Madingley Hall, Cambridge (2012) and Poltimore, Devon (2012).

b. Approaches to management
Not only have the conservation works rendered Clarendon Palace open and legible to the public, but they were also unique at the point of instigation in formally linking a statutory body (English Heritage), a private landowner (Andrew Christie-Miller) and an HEI in a restoration and presentation project.

As noted in Section 2, an outline bid for HLF was successful and a full bid is currently (at the July 2013 census) being produced by FCC and the UoA. The UoA will carry out a laser scan/GPR survey of the Palace and use a crowdsourcing approach (with FCC volunteers) to examine LiDaR imagery for archaeological features in the adjacent woodland. The UoA, FSS and the local public are therefore entwined in future research at Clarendon and the dissemination of the results.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Letters of support:
From the ex-curator of Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

From the Friends of Clarendon Palace.

A summary of the impact of the Clarendon Park Project is provided on the following UoA web page:

Management plans and project designs:
Gerrard, C. and James, T.J. (1996) Clarendon Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire. Archaeology, History and Ecology. English Heritage Project 1750. Archaeological Consultancy, King Alfred's College, Winchester.

Gerrard, C. and James, T.J. (1998) Clarendon Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire. Historic Landscape Management Plan. Archaeological Consultancy, King Alfred's College, Winchester.

Impact on techniques:
TL dating of bricks. English Heritage (2008) Luminescence Dating: Guidelines on using luminescence dating in archaeology, p35.

References to the conserved palace appears in the following hikers' and visitors' guides:
Bardwell, S. Dixon, B. and Dragicevic, P. (2007) Walking in Britain. Lonely Planet, London, p73-79.
BBC (2008) The Clarendon Way. Available at

Hampshire County Council (2006) The Clarendon Way: a 24 mile walk from Salisbury to Winchester. Hampshire County Council, Winchester. Available at

Salisbury City Guides (2013) Clarendon Palace. Available at