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The present Bishop’s Court, in Sowton Parish, was, in the middle ages, the centre of the manor of Bishop’s Clyst. Bishop’s Court Palace is a fine example of ‘gothic revival’ and is one of the best examples of its type in the country. The Palace is situated about 4 miles east of Exeter. From 1265, the Bishop’s Bronscombe and the Bishops used the Episcopal Palace of Clyst until 1546, when it became the property of John Russell, later to become Earl of Bedford.

John Garratt, whose family money came from tea and coffee and who was famous for laying the foundation stone to London Bridge, purchased the house in 1833 when it had 1,250 acres. John Garratt, was particularly interested in the revival of gothic architecture, especially of the ecclesiastical kind. This is where he came into contact with William White who was commissioned to undertake the work needed at that time. White’s work of the 1860’s is of exceptional quality and is remarkably intact. The design retains much of the original work whilst at the same time transforming it.

Bishop’s Court Palace is one of William White’s most important domestic buildings. His treatment of the early work was to transform it completely.

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The rugged, characteristic and studiously asymmetrical exterior is a remarkably well preserved example of a serious mid C19 architect’s conception of domestic gothic. The fittings were, and still are, carefully designed with exceptional attention to detail. Everything, including a complete set of internal shutters, remains intact in all 51 rooms.

The Palace houses many pieces of William White furniture, originally made for the Palace, which have been traced by the present owners and returned to their rightful home. Bishop’s Court Palace has been sympathetically modernised with only 5 families ever having occupied it. It now sits in 36 acres and is approached down a lime tree lined drive and overlooks parkland. It is Grade 1 listed and is protected by English Heritage. There is a fine reception hall with all the original stencilling. The reception rooms have individual character and are wonderful for entertaining. There is a chapel at the end of the hall, with many artefacts which are protected by English Heritage.

To the east of the house there is a courtyard of stone barns and stables which are recognised as the oldest ones in Great Britain.  They are recognised as the oldest firmly dated barns in Devon & Cornwall and are unique in England.