UK pensioner discovers 700-year-old palace in his backyard

Charles Pole, 81 standing in front of the site of a 700-year-old palace.
Charles Pole, 81 standing in front of the site of a 700-year-old palace. Photo credit: South West Heritage Trust

A British pensioner has made a surprise discovery in his backyard - a 700-year-old Bishop's palace.

Charles Pole, 81, was building a bungalow in his back garden when he unearthed the remains from beneath his lawn.

Historians told the Daily Mail that specialists have been trying to locate the site for more than 200 years, and had been focusing their search on a nearby area. 

The building, said to be from the 13th Century, disappeared some 500 years later - and hadn't been seen since. Historians say Bishop Drokensford (1309-1329) and Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury (1329-1363) both worked and lived at the site. 

Although locals and historians alike have expressed their excitement about the shocking discovery, Pole says he has mixed feelings.

It's understood local officials are charging the 81-year-old £15,000 (nearly NZ$30,00) to cover the cost of protecting the site. Once the site has been covered, building work above ground will be able to resume.

But Pole, who is disabled and lives alone, is frustrated the building will be delayed

''It was exciting to hear the site contains something of real significance, but the cost of the investigation is going to cost me around £15,000 and has delayed the bungalow,'' he says.

The exterior of the palace appears to be in good condition, with wall foundations and floor deposits still intact.

'The remains are a significant find and the landowner, archaeologists, builder and architect are working to protect and record the site,' a spokesperson for the South West Heritage Trust told the Daily Mail.

Pole's bungalow will still go ahead once the area has been protected and covered.