A former fruit and hops warehouse had to be taken apart, modified off-site and put back together again for flats because it was on the site of a Roman garrison and an historic palace.
The block, in Winchester Walk, near Borough Market, sits on top of what was once the 12th Century London home of the Bishops of Winchester.
But archaeologists from the Museum of London also found remains of a Roman garrison amidst the ruins when they excavated before the new flats, offices and restaurant were created. There are also the remains on the north side of the site of Winchester Palace, the townhouse of the bishop whose lax reign ensured Southwark was the sin capital of England, with the vast majority of the capital’s brothels, theatres and gambling dens.
These were suppressed in the City but could flourish openly south of the river. The Bishops of Winchester received rents from the numerous brothels, leading to the local prostitutes being known as “Winchester geese”.
Many were buried in what has now become Crossbones Cemetery in Redcross Way, about 300 yards from the Palace – which has now become a memorial garden.
The palace was built because the bishop was traditionally the king’s royal treasurer – so regularly needed in court in Westminster and at the Tower of London. It remained in use until the 17th century, when it was divided into tenements and warehouses, but was mostly destroyed by fire in 1814.
Parts of the great hall, built in about 1136, are still visible. The hall’s rose window, built in the 14th century, still survives.
The remains of Winchester Palace are listed as a Scheduled Monument and are managed by English Heritage. Number 16 Winchester Walk, which sits over the Roman fort and the palace site, has been turned into six flats, Hawksmoor restaurant and offices by Cullinan Studio, which received planning permission in 2013.