Tag Archives: Nonsuch Palace

Nonsuch Palace

Another in the occasional series on historical sites  on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path)  walk …

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Nonsuch Palace, near Ewell in Surrey, was originally built – although not completed – by Henry VIII between 1538-47, as an English Renaissance  rival to Francis I of France’s Chateau de Chambord, begun in 1519 (the Medieval settlement of Cuddington being demolished in the process).   In  1556, Mary I sold it to Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel.  And in 1580, on FitzAlan’s death, it passed to his son-in-law John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (*), who in 1592 remitted possession to Elizabeth I, who is known to have stayed there on a number of occasions.  Subsequently,    in 1603, on Elizabeth’s death, it passed to James I, who granted it to his Queen, Anne of Denmark; and in 1625, on James’s death, to Charles I, who in turn granted it to his Queen, Henrietta Maria (only to see it temporarily seized by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War).  Eventually, the then-surviving buildings were  substantially demolished by Charles II’s mistress Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine, in 1682-83 – the proceeds of the sale of  salvaged building materials used by her to settle her gambling debts!

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Archaeological excavations undertaken by A.W.G. Lowther in 1930 and Professor Martin Biddle in 1959-60 unearthed the remains of the Palace’s Banqueting House, situated in a prime elevated position overlooking the erstwhile deer park, now Nonsuch Park.   The remains consisted of an understorey and the lower part of the raised ground floor, with an external  brick wall that had been partially rebuilt in the nineteenth century (using some bricks salvaged from the original Tudor building).

(*) Lumley (d. 1609) is buried  in the sumptuous Lumley Chapel in the church of St Dunstan in nearby Cheam, alongside his wives Jane (nee Fitzalan) (d. 1579) and Elizabeth (nee Darcy) (d. 1617).

Cheam

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Cheam was first recorded as Ceg(e)ham in Anglo-Saxon charters of 727 and 967, and as Ceiham in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name meaning, in Old English, the homestead or small settlement (ham) by the tree stumps (ceg).  In the later Medieval period, the manor was divided into East Cheam (Estcheiham) and West Cheam (Westcheiham).  Also at this time, Cheam became an important centre for pottery production, the local clay being well suited to this use.  The area remained at least semi-rural throughout much of its history, only really becoming genteelly suburbanised in the Edwardian era of the early twentieth century.  Cheam  is part of the London Borough of Sutton.

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A number of houses from the past village are still in existence in the centre of the present town, including the essentially sixteenth-century Whitehall, which is open to the public.

Church of St Dunstan

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The old church of St Dunstan was originally built in the Saxon period, extended in the later Medieval, and converted into a memorial chapel for members of the Lumley family in the post-Medieval.  It was subsequently remodelled in the eighteenth century, and substantially demolished in the  nineteenth (when a new church was built on an immediately adjoining site).

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The surviving  Lumley Chapel contains  many fine memorials, including those to John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (d. 1609) and his wives Jane (nee Fitzalan) (d. 1579) and Elizabeth (nee Darcy) (d. 1617).

Nonsuch Palace

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Incidentally, the aforementioned John Lumley inherited the now-sadly-lost nearby Nonsuch Palace from his first wife Jane’s father Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel, in 1580 (FitzAlan having bought it from Queen Mary in 1556).  He remitted possession of the Palace to Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, but was allowed to continue to live there, with his second wife Elizabeth, as Keeper.

Nonsuch Palace was originally built – although not entirely completed – by Henry VIII between 1538-41, as an English Renaissance  rival to Francis I of France’s Chateau de Chambord, begun in 1519.  It was eventually demolished by Charles II’s mistress Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine, in 1682-83 – the proceeds of the sale of  salvaged building materials used by her to settle her gambling debts!