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5 Facts About the Royal History of Woking Palace

28 September 2016

In the historic precursor to modern-day Woking lies the site and ruins of Woking Palace. Once a grand Tudor palace, it played host to kings, aristocrats, political plots, feasts, banquets and luxurious hunting retreats. Here’s five facts you might not know about the role Woking Palace has played in the history of England’s real-life game of thrones.

1) Sir Alan Basset built the first house and deer park on the site some 800 years ago. Sir Alan had been given the lordship of Woking and Mapledurwell by the crown, and his name appears on the Magna Carta among the counsellors of King John.

2) Close advisors of King Edward II, the Despenser family held Woking Manor in the early 14th Century. However, when Edward’s estranged wife Isabella of France returned to England with a small army in tow, he was defeated and lost the throne. The Despensers were then swiftly dispensed with, and Woking Manor was reverted to the crown.

3) In 1466, the manor was granted to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor. When Henry won the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, he became King Henry VII of England and founder of the Tudor Dynasty.

4) Henry signed The Treaty of Woking at the palace in 1490, to seal an alliance between England and Spain.

5) His successor, King Henry VIII, often used the palace as respite from the heat and disease of London. His entourage would spend 4-5 days staying there, hunting and hawking in the Great Park of Woking.

To learn more about Woking Palace, visit our new display within the free permanent exhibition ‘Woking’s Story’. The display includes a model reconstruction of the palace, a selection of finds and images from the excavations, some history about the site, videos, and children’s activities. See more information about the display HERE.

Images: Woking Palace display at The Lightbox © Elizabeth Ransom

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