An historic town with a fascinating history


Bishop’s Waltham is a vibrant and historic market town set in the glorious Hampshire countryside.

With a foot in the South Downs National Park and located at the mid point of a long-established route between Winchester and Portsmouth, Bishop’s Waltham has long been a place to stop and relax.

From the impressive ruins of the medieval Bishop of Winchester’s Palace to the numerous listed buildings of the town centre, history is everywhere.  The medieval high street is remarkably well preserved with an excellent range of shops, cafés, restaurants and salons.


The earliest record of a settlement within the Bishop’s Waltham area was of a church built in around 640 AD. From then onwards, the town has enjoyed a colourful history with the peak of activity in Medieval times. The town also has several important connections to maritime history.


The first Bishop’s Residence built in Bishop’s Waltham was started by Henri of Blois, William the Conqueror’ grandson, in about 1136. Subsequently enlarged and embellished by the wealthy and powerful Bishop’s of Winchester over the following centuries it was, by the mid 1400s, a real Palace. Today it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and classified by English Heritage as a Magnate’s Residence. There are only 150 such classified ‘residences’ in the country.

Badly damaged in the English Civil War, today you can explore the extensive remains, including the ruins of the Great Hall, and imagine the many powerful figures who honoured the Palace with a visit – Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII, Queen Mary I, and Queen Elizabeth I, to name just the Kings and Queens.

In good weather, the grounds are ideal for a family picnic. Entrance is free. For more details see the English Heritage webpage.

If you are fascinated by the history of Bishop's Waltham, you may be interested in joining the Bishop's Waltham Society.  You can also visit Bishop's Waltham Museum.

This interactive map overlays historic maps onto a current map so you can see how the town has developed.  Well worth a look!