Woking Palace

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Woking Palace
Woking Palace, near Old Woking - geograph.org.uk - 40278.jpg
The ruins of Woking Palace
Grid reference: TQ02965705
Location: 51°18’12"N, 0°31’28"W
Village: Old Woking
Manor house
Condition: Ruins

Woking Palace is a former manor house of the Royal Manor of Woking in Surrey. It stands near the village of Old Woking and on the outskirts of modern Woking.

The manor was in the gift of the Crown and was held by numerous nominees of the Crown until 1466 when Lady Margaret Beaufort and her third husband, Sir Henry Stafford obtained the Manor by royal grant. Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII.


The first mention of a house on the site is in 1272. There is also later recorded use by Lady Margaret Beaufort and by her son and grandson, Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII. Woking Manor House was converted into a palace by Henry VII in 1503 and was subsequently remodelled by Henry VIII and [Elizabeth I. The site comprises buried and exposed ruins of its old buildings on a cut and grazed water meadow.

It was held by numerous nominees of the Crown until 1466 when Lady Margaret Beaufort and her third husband (of four), Sir Henry Stafford obtained the Manor by royal grant. Margaret was a daughter of the House of Lancaster and retained her prominence after the fall of the house, through astute marriages, until her son overthrew Richard III and ascended the throne himself.as King Henry VII.[1] Henry's first parliament recognised for Margaret a right to hold property independently from her husband, as if she were unmarried, exempting her from coverture.[2] Towards the end of her son's reign she was given a special commission to administer justice in the north of England.[3]

The palace was moated and can be separated into four parts: north east quadrant; the mediæval barrel vault and the King's Hall, built by Henry VII in 1508, in the south east; the King's Garden on the south-west; and the Copse to the north west, once the orchard. A protective roof has been raised over the barrel vault and repairs made to the remaining Tudor wall. The King's Garden was originally a formal kitchen garden but is now a rough meadow.

The Copse contains two large linear fish ponds and a smaller round pond. The moat is on three sides whilst the River Wey enclosed the site on the fourth side.

Henry VIII often visited Woking Palace and throughout his reign it underwent regular maintenance as well as some alterations. Additions approved commissioned by him included a new wharf by the River Wey and two new bowling alleys. Maintenance works included the replacement of bridge planks, alterations to room partitions, plastering and painting, replacement of glass in windows, retiling of roofs and fireplaces, and, the installation of new windows.

James I and VI granted the estate to knight marshal Sir Edward Zouch in 1620 who may well have allowed its remains to be plundered to build his new mansion nearly a mile away, Hoe Bridge Place. By the reign of Charles II (1660-1685), the palace appears to have been abandoned and virtually ruined.[4] Zouch was one of the proprietors of the Plymouth Colony in America and the North Virginia Company. He was first keeper of Woking Park, including the Palace, and in 1620 acquired it from the Crown for a rent of £100 a year and the duty of serving the first dish to the king on a feast on St James's Day.[5]

The king when at Oatlands Palace often came to Hoe Bridge Place for revels with Zouch playing the fool, singing bawdy songs and telling bawdy tales. In 1631, not long before he died, his tenants set forth a long list of grievances and exploitations by Zouch. After contributing to the maintenance of Old Woking church, Zouch's will requested that he be buried at night, presumably to avoid the wrath of his tenantry.[5]

Preservation and visitor facilities

Woking Palace has been critiqued among royal sites of the pre-16th century as an "excellent survival", highly diverse, with large archaeological potential spanning the island and the waterlogged moats. A high "amenity value" in legal planning terms attaches to the site equating to its relatively important national historic, architectural and archaeological values.[6]

The site is designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Outside links


  1. Arlene Okerlund, Elizabeth: England's Slandered Queen, Stroud: Tempus, 2006, p. 245.
  2. Jones & Underwood, 187.
  3. Barbara J. Harris, "Women and Politics in Early Tudor England", The Historical Journal, 33:2, 1990, p. 259
  4. The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2) H M Colvin and others, 1982, London at pages 344-348
  5. 5.0 5.1 Zouch's Monument: a Tudor tower in Woking: TheLightBox.org.uk
  6. National Heritage List 1019366: Woking Palace moated site, fishponds and ruins at Oldhall Copse