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Nonsuch Palace

Nonsuch Palace

Overview
Nonsuch Palace was a Tudor
Tudor architecture
The Tudor architectural style is the final development of medieval architecture during the Tudor period and even beyond, for conservative college patrons...

 royal
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

, built by Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 in Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3. Its ruins are in Nonsuch Park
Nonsuch Park
Nonsuch Park is a public park between Stoneleigh, North Cheam, Cheam, and Ewell and the last surviving part of the Little Park of Nonsuch, a deer hunting park established by Henry VIII of England surrounding the former Nonsuch Palace...

.

Nonsuch Palace in Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

 was perhaps the grandest of Henry VIII's
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 building projects. It was built on the site of Cuddington
Cuddington, Surrey
Cuddington was a village in Surrey which was demolished to make way for Henry VIII's Nonsuch Palace near Cheam. Cuddington lay within the Copthorne hundred, an administrative division devised by the Saxons...

, near Ewell
Ewell
Ewell is a village in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, close to the southern boundary of Greater London. It is located 14 miles south-south-west of Charing Cross and forms part of the suburbia that surrounds Greater London. Despite its growing population it is still referred to as a...

, the church and village having been destroyed and compensation paid to create a suitable site. Work started on 22 April 1538, the first day of Henry's thirtieth regnal year
Regnal year
A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third, and...

, and six months after the birth of his son, later Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Nonsuch Palace was a Tudor
Tudor architecture
The Tudor architectural style is the final development of medieval architecture during the Tudor period and even beyond, for conservative college patrons...

 royal
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

, built by Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 in Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3. Its ruins are in Nonsuch Park
Nonsuch Park
Nonsuch Park is a public park between Stoneleigh, North Cheam, Cheam, and Ewell and the last surviving part of the Little Park of Nonsuch, a deer hunting park established by Henry VIII of England surrounding the former Nonsuch Palace...

.

Background


Nonsuch Palace in Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

 was perhaps the grandest of Henry VIII's
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 building projects. It was built on the site of Cuddington
Cuddington, Surrey
Cuddington was a village in Surrey which was demolished to make way for Henry VIII's Nonsuch Palace near Cheam. Cuddington lay within the Copthorne hundred, an administrative division devised by the Saxons...

, near Ewell
Ewell
Ewell is a village in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, close to the southern boundary of Greater London. It is located 14 miles south-south-west of Charing Cross and forms part of the suburbia that surrounds Greater London. Despite its growing population it is still referred to as a...

, the church and village having been destroyed and compensation paid to create a suitable site. Work started on 22 April 1538, the first day of Henry's thirtieth regnal year
Regnal year
A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third, and...

, and six months after the birth of his son, later Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

. Within two months the name 'Nonsuch' appears in the building accounts, so called because it was claimed there was no such palace elsewhere equal to its magnificence. Construction had been substantially carried out by 1541, but it would take several more years to complete. As the Royal Household took possession of vast tracts of surrounding acreage, several major roads were re-routed or by-passed to circumvent what became Nonsuch Great Park.

The palace was designed to be a celebration of the power and the grandeur of the Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

, built to rival Francis I's
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord
The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.The building, which was never...

. Unlike most of Henry's palaces, Nonsuch was not an adaptation of an old building; he chose to build a new palace in this location because it was near to one of his main hunting grounds. The palace cost at least £24,000 (£104 million in 2009) because of its rich ornamentation and is considered a key work in the introduction of elements of Renaissance design
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

 to England.

Archaeology


Only about three contemporary images of the palace survive, and they do not reveal very much about either the layout or the details of the building. The site was excavated in 1959–60. The plan of the palace was quite simple with inner and outer courtyard
Courtyard
A court or courtyard is an enclosed area, often a space enclosed by a building that is open to the sky. These areas in inns and public buildings were often the primary meeting places for some purposes, leading to the other meanings of court....

s, each with a fortified gatehouse
Gatehouse
A gatehouse, in architectural terminology, is a building enclosing or accompanying a gateway for a castle, manor house, fort, town or similar buildings of importance.-History:...

. To the north, it was fortified
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

 in a medieval style, but the southern face had ornate Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 decoration, with tall octagonal towers at each end. It was within one of these towers that the premiere of Thomas Tallis
Thomas Tallis
Thomas Tallis was an English composer. Tallis flourished as a church musician in 16th century Tudor England. He occupies a primary place in anthologies of English church music, and is considered among the best of England's early composers. He is honoured for his original voice in English...

' masterwork, "Spem in alium
Spem in alium
Spem in alium is a forty-part Renaissance motet by Thomas Tallis, composed circa 1570 for eight choirs of five voices each. The sacred text has been used as a basis for other choral settings, such as and the...

" was performed. A motet for forty voices divided into eight choirs of five it is rumoured that each choir took position in one of the eight balconies of a tower and sang the piece for the patrons below. The exterior and outer courtyard were quite plain, but the inner courtyard was decorated with breathtaking stucco
Stucco
Stucco or render is a material made of an aggregate, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as decorative coating for walls and ceilings and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture...

 panels moulded in high relief.

Following the digging of the trenches in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, it was reported that pieces of pottery had been discovered in the area, later found to be from the site of the palace. An outline of the site layout was also visible from the air, providing additional evidence in the search for the location of the site. The 1959 excavation of Nonsuch was a key event in the history of archaeology in the UK. It was one of the first post-medieval sites to be excavated, and attracted over 75,000 visitors during the work. This excavation led to a major set of developments in post-medieval archeology.

Through the ages



The palace was incomplete when Henry VIII died in 1547. In 1556 Queen Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

 sold it to the 19th Earl of Arundel who completed it. It returned to royal hands in the 1590s, and remained royal property until 1670, when Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 gave it to his mistress, Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine
Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland
Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland was an English courtesan and perhaps the most notorious of the many mistresses of King Charles II of England, by whom she had five children, all of which were acknowledged and subsequently ennobled...

. She had it pulled down around 1682–3 and sold off the building materials to pay gambling debts. Some elements were incorporated into other buildings; for example the wood panelling can still be seen today in the Great Hall at Loseley Park
Loseley Park
Loseley Park is a historic manor house situated outside Guildford in Surrey, England near Compton. The estate was acquired by the direct ancestors of the current owners, the More-Molyneux, at the beginning of the 16th century....

. No trace of the palace remains on its site today but some pieces are held by the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

. There is, however, a discernible rise of land where the old Cuddington church used to be, before it was demolished to make way for the palace. Nonsuch Palace should not be confused with Nonsuch Mansion
Nonsuch Mansion
Nonsuch Mansion is a Grade II listed house located within Nonsuch Park in north Surrey, England. In medieval times it was part of the three thousand acre manor of Cuddington. The mansion was built in 1731-43 by Joseph Thompson and later bought by Samuel Farmer in 1799. He employed Jeffry Wyattville...

, which is at the east of the park, nor its associated banqueting hall whose foundations are still visible to the south east of the palace site.

The Tudors


A depiction of Nonsuch Palace appears in series 3 episode 8 of the television series The Tudors
The Tudors
The Tudors is a Canadian produced historical fiction television series filmed in Ireland, created by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable television channel Showtime...

, seen in the distance when Henry VIII rides out to show it to his mistress Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard , also spelled Katherine, Katheryn or Kathryn, was the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, and sometimes known by his reference to her as his "rose without a thorn"....

. Earlier in the series, the plot asserts that the Palace was designed by the King when incommunicado
Incommunicado
Incommunicado, as an adjective or adverb, refers to a situation or a behaviour due to which communication with outsiders is not possible, for either voluntary or involuntary reasons, especially due to confinement or reclusiveness....

, racked with grief over the death of Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour was Queen of England as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution for trumped up charges of high treason, incest and adultery in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of...

.

External links