Richmond Palace

Richmond Palace

Richmond Palace was a royal residence from 1327 to 1649 on The Green, Richmond, United Kingdom. The first, pre-Tudor version of the palace was known as Sheen Palace. It was positioned roughly at coord|51.460388|N|0.310219|W|display=inline,title, at what is now the garden of Trumpeters' House.

Medieval - Palace of Sheen

=Norman =

Henry I lived briefly in the King's house in Sheanes (or Shene or Sheen).

1299 to 1495

In 1299 Edward I "Hammer of the Scots", took his whole court to the manor-house at Sheen, a little east of the bridge, and close by the river side, which thus became a "royal palace". William Wallace ("Braveheart") was executed in London in 1305, and it was in Sheen that the Commissioners from Scotland went down on their knees before Edward. When the boy-king Edward III came to the throne in 1327 he gave the manor to his mother Isabella. Almost 50 years later, after his wife Philippa died, Edward spent over 2,000 pounds on improvements. In the middle of the work Edward III himself died at the manor in 1377. In 1368 Geoffrey Chaucer served as a yeoman at Sheen.

Richard II was the first English king to make Sheen his main residence in 1383. He took his bride Anne of Bohemia there. Twelve years later Richard was so distraught at the death of Anne at the age of 28, that he, according to Holinshed, "caused it [the manor] to be thrown down and defaced; whereas the former kings of this land, being wearie of the citie, used customarily thither to resort as to a place of pleasure, and serving highly to their recreation." For almost 20 years it lay in ruins until Henry V undertook rebuilding work in 1414. Henry also founded a Carthusian monastery there: Richmond Priory. There were various royal connections at Sheen until the fire of 1497 under Henry VII.


=Henry VII=

On 23 December 1497 a fire destroyed most of the wooden buildings. Henry rebuilt and named the new palace Richmond Palace after his family's title. In 1502, it witnessed a betrothal. Princess Margaret, became engaged to King James IV of Scotland. From this line eventually came the house of Stuart. In 1509 Henry VII died at Richmond.

Henry VIII

Later the same year, Henry VIII celebrated Christmas to Twelfth Night at Richmond with the first of his six wives, Catherine of Aragon. During those celebrations, says Mrs. A.T. Thomson, in her "Memoirs of the Court of Henry the Eighth":-

On the night of the Epiphany (1510), a pageant was introduced into the hall at Richmond, representing a hill studded with gold and precious stones, and having on its summit a tree of gold, from which hung roses and pomegranates. From the declivity of the hill descended a lady richly attired, who, with the gentlemen, or, as they were then called, children of honour, danced a morris before the king. On another occasion, in the presence of the court, an artificial forest was drawn in by a lion and an antelope, the hides of which were richly embroidered with golden ornaments; the animals were harnessed with chains of gold, and on each sat a fair damsel in gay apparel. In the midst of the forest, which was thus introduced, appeared a gilded tower, at the end of which stood a youth, holding in his hands a garland of roses, as the prize of valour in a tournament which succeeded the pageant!"

(Over the next hundred years from 1509, the Christmas celebrations gradually increased with music, dancing, theatricals and revels. The twelve days of Christmas were barely celebrated before the sixteenth century. By the time Elizabeth I died at Richmond in 1603, it was well established in court circles.)

Almost nothing survives of earlier manors. In the 1520s Cardinal Wolsey adopted new renaissance architectural styles at Hampton Court Palace. This was only a few miles from Richmond and Henry was boiling with jealousy. On Wolsey's fall, he confiscated it and forced him to accept Richmond Palace in exchange; and Hall, in his Chronicles, says, that "when the common people, and especially such as had been servants of Henry VII., saw the cardinal keep house in the manor royal at Richmond, which that monarch so highly esteemed, it was a marvel to hear how they grudged, saying, 'so a butcher's dogge doth lie in the manor of Richmond!'".

In 1540 Henry gave the palace to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves as part of her 'divorce settlement'.

Mary I

In 1554 Queen Mary I married Philip II of Spain. 45 years after her mother Catherine of Aragon had spent Christmas at Richmond palace, they spent their honeymoon there (and at Hampton Court). Later that same year, the future Elizabeth I was held prisoner at Richmond.

Elizabeth I

Once Elizabeth became queen she spent much of her time at Richmond, as she enjoyed hunting stags in the "Newe Parke of Richmonde" (now the Old Deer Park). Elizabeth died there on 24 March 1603.

tuarts and Commonwealth

James I

King James I preferred Westminster to Richmond, but even before he became king, Charles I owned Richmond palace and started to build his art collection while living there. Like Elizabeth, James enjoyed hunting stags, and in 1637 created a new area for this now known as Richmond Park, renaming Elizabeth's "Newe Parke" as the Old Deer Park. The stags in Richmond Park are now protected and if you enter the park at dawn you can see them outside the fenced area, as they are relatively tame.

Charles I and Commonwealth

Within months of the execution of Charles I in 1649, Richmond palace was surveyed by order of parliament to see what it could fetch in terms of raw materials, and then sold for 13,000 pounds. Over the next ten years it was mostly demolished, and the stones re-used for building.

Architecture, fittings, etc

All the accounts which have come down to us describe the furniture and decorations of the ancient palace as very superb, exhibiting in gorgeous tapestry the deeds of kings and of heroes who had signalized themselves by their conquests throughout France in behalf of their country.

From 1649 survey

The survey taken in 1649 affords a minute description of the palace. The great hall was one hundred feet in length, and forty in breadth, having a screen at the lower end, over which was "fayr foot space in the higher end thereof, the pavement of square tile, well lighted and seated; at the north end having a turret, or clock-case, covered with lead, which is a special ornament to this building." The prince's lodgings are described as a "freestone building, three stories high, with "fourteen turrets" covered with lead," being "a very graceful ornament to the whole house, and perspicuous to the county round about." A round tower is mentioned, called the "Canted Tower," with a staircase of one hundred and twenty-four steps. The chapel was ninety-six feet long and forty broad, with cathedral-seats and pews. Adjoining the prince's garden was an open gallery, two hundred feet long, over which was a close gallery of similar length. Here was also a royal library. Three pipes supplied the palace with water, one from the white conduit in the new park, another from the conduit in the town fields, and the third from a conduit near the alms-houses in Richmond.

urviving structures

These include the Wardrobe, Trumpeters' House and the Gate House. The last was built 1501, and was made available on a 65 year lease by the Crown Estate Commissioners in 1986. It has 5 bedrooms.


During 1997 the site was investigated by the Channel 4 programme Time Team which aired in January 1998. []


This palace was the first building in history to be equipped with a flush toilet, invented by Elizabeth I's godson, Sir John Harrington.Fact|date=February 2008

External links

* [ Royal Richmond timeline]

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