Where did the King live before the Norman Conquest?

July 23, 2010 by Mercedes Rochelle | Filed under King Canute.

I’m writing this post as I research Anglo-Saxon London.  I’d like to add some historical local color to my narrative, but aside from references to London Bridge and the Roman wall, I’m having a hard time finding mention of anything, anywhere – especially referring to a royal residence. 

The three mile-long Roman walls surrounded what is roughly today’s city limits.  What I didn’t know until yesterday was that after the Romans left Britain, Londinium declined and sat in ruins for about 400 years.  During the dark ages, the Anglo-Saxons established a settlement about one mile west of the Roman walls, called Lundenwic.  The town was at the mouth of the river Fleet (now underground), and served as a lively trading center until Alfred the Great re-established London within its old walls and fortified the city, calling it Lundenburh.  This happened within a 10-year period after 886.  Lundenwic was then pretty much abandoned and called Ealdwic or “old settlement” which evolved into Aldwych, its name today.

All this is very interesting, but it certainly doesn’t answer my question.  However, I have bumped into references that Canute may have built a palace on Thorney Island, the site of the future Westminster Palace (Houses of Parliament).  I’m a little confused, because this site is even further upriver from Aldwych, which was upriver from London Bridge.  But at least it’s a start!  Can’t imagine why Canute and Edward the Confessor would want a palace in a marsh, but I’ll keep digging.


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