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Oatlands Palace

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Otelands

In the civil parish of Weybridge.
In the historic county of Surrey.
Modern Authority of Surrey.
1974 county of Surrey.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ07876515
Latitude 51.37507° Longitude -0.45126°

Oatlands Palace has been described as a certain Palace.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Oatlands forms part of a group of broadly contemporary royal palaces, including Hampton Court and Nonsuch, built around the south western periphery of London by Henry VIII. Although modelled around an existing, earlier house, the main planning of the palace displays a typically Tudor emphasis on symmetry, balance and order, ornamented by more fanciful architectural elements such as tall corner towers and lanterns. Oatlands was, however, unusual in that, unlike the contemporary grand residences with which it is associated, the majority of its buildings had gabled roofs without crenellated parapets, a departure from the standard, mock-militaristic style of much Tudor architecture. Although largely surviving in the form of below ground archaeological remains, Oatlands Palace is comparatively well documented by detailed building accounts, contemporary descriptions and illustrations. Archaeological excavation has confirmed that the monument retains important evidence relating to the original form, extent and occupation of the palace, and the medieval moated house which preceded it. The monument includes the main courtyards and associated buildings of Oatlands Palace, situated on the southern bank of the River Thames at Weybridge, on the south western outskirts of modern metropolitan London. The palace, which survives in the form of below ground foundations, associated buried remains and restored ruins, was constructed mainly between 1537-45 for Henry VIII. Oatlands and its associated deer park lay within the newly-created royal hunting forest known as the Honour of Hampton Court, also served by Nonsuch Palace 13km to the east at Ewell, and centred on Hampton Court Palace less than 1km to the north east. The new chase and royal residences were close to the capital because the ageing King's deteriorating health prevented him from travelling to his favourite hunting grounds in Oxfordshire. Although essentially a private royal residence, Oatlands was built on a grand scale around three main, adjoining quandrangular courtyards covering approximately 14ha. The palace builders utilised an existing moated manor house which occupied the north eastern end of the monument, purchased by the King from the Reed family. The earlier house dated to the 15th century and took the form of an irregular, north west-south east aligned island containing substantial buildings, including a hall and chapel, surrounded by an up to 12m wide, water-filled moat. Royal building accounts, supported and augmented by investigations carried out in 1968-71 and 1983-84, suggest that the first phase of palace building works involved the retention and repair of some existing structures, including the great hall and moat. During 1538 the surrounding ground was emparked, and work began on a new middle court to the south west of the old manor house, which now formed the inner court of the palace. The accommodation included separate lodgings for the visiting King and Queen, constructed of newly-fired red brick, along with masonry reused from the recently dissolved abbey at Chertsey. The original appearance of the palace, most of which was demolished during parliamentary rule in the 1650s, is recorded in contemporary illustrations, including views by Wyngaerde dating to the 1550s, by a now lost Elizabethan drawing reproduced in Manning and Bray's History of Surrey (1804-14), and in a descriptive survey of 1650. Access to the middle court was by way of an embattled inner gatehouse. The inner court was embellished with tall corner towers, an adjoining northern court and a formal walled privy garden on its sheltered, south eastern side. The medieval moat was infilled and the water diverted underground via a large brick-vaulted conduit which survives along the course of the south western arm of the moat. To the south west was the enclosed outer court, containing the detached kitchen block and the kitchen garden. A restored, 16th century brick-built carriage gateway with a tall, four-centred archway topped by a stepped parapet survives on the north western side of the outer court, along with some standing portions of the original enclosing wall. This incorporates a further, now-blocked entrance. The course of the enclosing wall is elsewhere represented by an up to 3m high brick wall which contains some reused Tudor bricks, but which has been dated mainly to the later post-medieval period. This later section of wall is excluded from the scheduling. All standing portions of the wall and the gateways are Listed Grade II. The foundations of a double stable block adjoin the outer court to the north west, and the 1983-84 investigations revealed traces of a small detached building, which has been interpreted as an associated banqueting house, close to its north western side. Elizabeth I often visited Oatlands, and building work carried out during her reign included an improved kitchen range and other domestic offices constructed along the south eastern wall of the outer court. James I also maintained the palace, and in 1603 the nine year old Prince Henry was moved here briefly from Windsor in order to avoid the plague. James I granted Oatlands to Queen Anne in 1611, and improvements, some of which were designed by the fashionable architect Inigo Jones, included the creation of a vineyard beyond the monument to the south east of the privy garden, the erection of a silkworm house and, in 1617, a new bakehouse. Charles I granted the palace to Queen Henrietta Maria in 1627. The palace remains have been partly disturbed by the construction of modern housing estates between the 1930s-1980s. (Scheduling Report)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
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The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of English Heritage, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated on Sunday, October 19, 2014

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