And the Bishop of Ely breakfasted at Kamelot….

Camelot. Malory‘s Morte d’Arthur was printed five times between Caxton’s first publication and the nineteenth century. Wynkyn de Worde published the first illustrated edition of Malory in 1498; it includes woodcuts prepared specifically for the edition by an unknown artist called simply “the Arthur cutter.” from the Rochester library

On Sunday, 25th October 1383, Thomas Arundel, Bishop of Ely (soon to be Archbishop of York and then Archbishop of Canterbury), breakfasted at Kamelot. Oh yes, indeed. I learned of this on page 199 of Thomas Arundel, the biography by Margaret Aston, which I quote:

“….This letter, like another of 24th October concerning an exchange, was dated at Hatfield, and tells of a visit of the bishop [Thomas Arundel, at that time Bishop of Ely] to that manor which passed almost unrecorded in the household accounts for this month. For the only mention which appears in the rolls of Arundel’s being anywhere near Hatfield during October was on Sunday, 25 October [1383], when provisions were supplied for the household’s breakfast there, while the bishop himself breakfasted at ‘Kamelot’, before returning, for supper, to Holbourn.1 The accounts of various preparations and supplies made by Thomas Boteller and Henry Brewer which appear on the verso of the roll for November2 refer to a stay of the bishop at Hatfield which would seem to have taken place shortly before the meeting of parliament….”

“….1 Roll E, 25 Oct.

“….2 RollF, v. (Necessaria) These preparations were in large part to make ready for the household’s stay during the parliamentary session, but Henry Brewer’s activity was also ‘contra adventum domini’….”

NB: Elsewhere in the book Roll E is identified as P.R.O. E 101/510/27 and Roll F as P.R.O. E 101/400/28.

Thomas Arundel – 14th century illustration

This enigmatic Kamelot can’t have been King Arthur’s Camelot, which appears to have been romantic invention, so was it either coincidentally called by the same name, or deliberately named after the legendary home of King Arthur?

All that seems certain is that while the bishop’s household was at Hatfield, Kamelot was close enough to Holbourn for the Bishop to set off for London after breakfast and arrive in time for supper in Holbourn. From Hatfield to Holbourn is just over 65 miles as the crow flies. Of course, the fact that the bishop’s household was at Hatfield doesn’t mean Arundel himself was close by. I suppose he could have been anywhere that was within striking distance of Holbourn. But I feel Kamelot must have been somewhere near Hatfield.

My question, ladies and gentlemen, is what and where was this Kamelot? It must have existed to have been mentioned in the rolls. Any ideas?

from Google Maps



  1. That’s intriguing, isn’t it? My neck of the woods and I’d never realised I was so close to Camelot!
    It would have been nice if the author had included an image of the relevant bit of the document so we could all see for ourselves, but assuming it says what it says it says, the only possibilities I can think of are:
    1) It may have been the name given to the Bishop’s private suite of apartments in Hatfield house,
    2) It may have been a sumptuous hunting lodge somewhere in Hatfield Park,
    3) It may refer to the estate now known as Camfield, which was then owned by the Camvile family. This lies on the opposite side of Hatfield Park, at Essendon. It would have been a bit off course to the east if the Bishop was riding from Hatfield to Westminster, but perhaps he might have spent the night there whilst the bulk of his household remained at Hatfield?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know about Camfield, so it has to be a possibility, wrong side of Hatfield Park or not. I’ve included all the footnotes, but haven’t been able to run them to ground in order to copy something useful. Margaret Aston’s book is full of incidental information like this. Sometimes I think she regards such things as common enough knowledge to be left at that. Infuriating..


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