The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham received a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to invest in Bishops Park and Fulham Palace under the Parks for People scheme. This has been used as part of an £8m improvement programme to revive the park and grounds of Fulham Palace as much valued local amenities. Our archaeological consultants were commissioned to develop the cultural heritage and archaeology elements of a Stage 2 HLF application, including design and implementation of the archaeological mitigation strategy based on an assessment of heritage constraints, risks and opportunities.
Fulham Palace and Bishops Park are situated on the north bank of the River Thames between Putney Bridge and Craven Cottage football ground. Fulham Palace lies on a 36-acre site first acquired by the Bishop of London in about AD700 and surrounded by a moat, which is almost a mile long and therefore the largest domestic moat in England. The earliest surviving mention of the moat, dating to 1392, refers to it as a magna fossa (great ditch). The moated enclosure is designated as a Scheduled Monument. The Palace is Grade I listed and its outbuildings are also listed. The Bishops continued to reside at the Palace until 1973. Bishops Park was opened in 1893 and is Grade II listed on the Parks and Gardens register.
Works in the grounds of Fulham Palace included the conversion of the stables into an education centre and the restoration of Gothick Lodge, the walled garden and its vinery and bothies, and the moat bridge and a 90m-long section of the moat itself.
Our role in the project involved preparation of archaeological and built heritage appraisals, impact assessments, mitigation strategies and applications for Scheduled Monument Consent. In addition, we compiled supporting information for listed building consent applications. During the implementation stage, we were responsible for overseeing the archaeological fieldwork and ongoing consultation with English Heritage and stakeholders.
Excavations in the moat revealed the remarkably well-preserved remains of a medieval timber bridge (timbers were dated to cAD1249-85), a precursor of the extant stone structure and pre-dating the earliest documentary evidence of the moat. Restoration of this prominent section of the moat at the main entrance to the palace, and associated interpretation, are helping to promote the appreciation and long term preservation of this historic site.