This evening I spoke to the Ely and District Archaeological Society on the theme ‘The Bishop’s Palace at Ely in the sixteenth century: recovering the evidence’. The aim of the talk was to approach the Bishop’s Palace from an archaeological perspective, in an attempt to recover what the Palace might have been like when it was at its fullest extent in the sixteenth century, shortly after the construction of Bishop Goodrich’s Long Gallery in 1552. Although work on the Palace may have begun as early as 1486, an inventory of 1581 reveals that the Palace then contained 47 rooms, only 9 of which can be identified with parts of the Palace still standing today. Drawing on pictorial, cartographical and manuscript evidence, as well as the results of archaeological investigations in the Long Gallery in 1990 and 2013 by Hirst Conservation, I described what the Palace might have been like when the building was in use as a prison for Catholic recusants in the 1580s and ’90s, and suggested a conjectural groundplan.
The text of my talk is available here.