Saturday, September 19, 2009

Question from Duncan - Builders of Oatlands Palace


Do you know where I should start searching for information about the building of Oatlands Palace at Weybridge.

I'm trying to research the people who actually built it as I've got fed up with reading "Henry VIII built his palace at Oatlands...", etc.

Whatever Henry is noted for, bricklaying doesn't appear in the list...

I guess that there should be accounts that should list some who were paid directly by the exchequer for their labour and may be other documents as well.

Researching Tudor times is well outside of my expertise - I tend to fall away before the 1840 census but I'm looking at the local history of Oatlands and the Palace is obviously very significant - hence getting fed up with "Henry built.."


Duncan Amos


Marilyn R said...

Have you tried this site? Gives several references, including works by Simon Thurley.

The Gatehouse website record for Oatlands Palace.

PhD Historian said...

The site Marilyn referred you to offers some starter information. From there, click on the link on the right hand site that says "Images of England Number 286901." That will take you to another site that is also useful ... English Heritage.

If you are comfortable with rummaging through primary sources, Oatlands was in Surrey, and the Surrey History Center at Woking might prove informative. I've done research there myself ... great new facility, lovely helpful staff.

But to correct one probable mistake: the accounts related to the construction of Oatlands were almost certainly not recorded in the Exchequer. I suspect they were instead Privy Purse expenses. Oatlands was built by Henry VIII, not by the central government. The Exchequer handled the finances of central government, not those of the monarch as an individual.

However, though the central bureaucracy was perfected in the Tudor period, I don't think Henry's Office of the Privy Purse was among those that had begun keeping meticulous records. It's very likely that there are no surviving accounts for many of his construction efforts. If they exist, they will be in the National Archives at Kew, however. And if they exist, they are unlikely to be sufficiently detailed to reveal the names of workers. Instead, existing accounts will likely show lump sums paid in various categories, such as bricks, bricklayers (as a group), carpenters, etc.

Marilyn R said...

I think your best bet at this early stage might be:

Thurley, Simon, Cook, Alan and Poulton, Rob, 2007, Oatlands Palace (London: English Heritage)

Simon Thurley is Chief Executive of English Heritage.

Lindsey said...

The question regarding Oatlands is most interesting and brings to mind other Tudor palaces which have, sadly, disappeared through the ages such as Nonsuch, Richmond, Greenwich, and many others. Thank goodness Hampton Court has survived although part of that palace was pulled down to clear the way for William and Mary's new palace (and I believe the intention was to replace the entire structure but funds ran out for the re-building project?).

It is so tantalizing that so few of these magnificent "boxes" no longer exist for Tudor enthusiasts or historians, etc. to visit or even enjoy as armchair travelers. One of my most highly treasured books is Simon Thurley's The Royal Palaces of Tudor England which has pride of place in my personal collection. His book on Hampton Court Palace is one of the most detailed (and heaviest!) tomes I have ever borrowed. I will have to check out the book on Oatlands which Marilyn R mentioned in her 2nd post to this question.

Marilyn R said...

Hi Lindsey

Have you seen Simon Thurley’s new web site? It’s very straightforward and lists all his books, articles, guidebooks and reviews of other peoples’ work – I must treat myself to his book on Whitehall Palace.

It also gives his speaking engagements; if you live in England you might be interested in:

11 February 2010
‘Politics of architecture in Tudor & Stuart London’

11 March 2010
‘Town and Crown: why London never became an imperial capital’
Both at 6:00pm, Museum of London.

I think that of all people, being not only Chief Executive of English Heritage but also principal advisor to the Government on the historic environment of England, he is the most likely writer to have the answers to Duncan’s questions.

I have not read the Oatlands Palace book I mentioned; I said the publication date was 2007, but his web site says 2009.

Lindsey said...

Hello Marilyn R,

Does the "R" stand for the Latin word "regina" as in "Elizabeth R"?

Thanks for letting me know about Simon Thurley's website -- don't know how that got by me! I am now a retired librarian in the U.S. and we librarians are sort of like ferrets when it comes to locating info although, admittedly, even we get stuck or miss things.

You will enjoy Thurley's book on Whitehall Palace: I borrowed it a few years back. I would like to have a Simon Thurley bookshelf but we're talking lots of $$$. Thank goodness for interlibrary loan!

PhD Historian said...

I have not read Thurley's books, though I have read some of his articles in academic journals. My impression is that he is more interested in architecture and the "why" of the structures rather that in the individual laborers who carried out the construction. Maybe some of our readers here who are more familiar with his books can clarify whether Thurley does or does not delve into the usually unseen world of Tudor-era construction workers, since that was the focus of Duncan's original question?

Tudorrose said...

Yes the R in Elizabeth 'R' Does indeed stand for Regina.The word regina would be given to a female monarch and for a king it would be "Rex".Rex and Regina are latin words that just mean reigns or rules.Sometimes queens would sign the queen just after their name.I suppose the same would apply if it were a king but alas I have never seen anything signed by a king that is just signed as the King.I suppose the reason being for this would be due to the fact that a King was seen as more superior to a Queen at the time,as it was considered unfit that a woman could and should rule England.The same goes for any country at the time for that matter.!Afterall anyway males were taken more seriously than females and were seen as the most superior with all the power.Even more so if royal.Females on the otherhand were supposed to obey,be subserviant and not meddle in males affairs.Women were just supposed to stay at home and learn household duties be it noble or royal and also be educated at their residence by nurses and tutors.If poor be it male or female it would have been just household duties it would have been no education for them.Only males of nobillity would attend school.If royal it would have been home tuition.Except with the exception of prince Henry who later on become Henry VIII,he was taught firstly by his mother and he was also brought up by his mother.It was the same with his sisters.Then secondly he would be taught by his tutors.

Lara said...

TudorRose, the "R" comment I think was just in reference to Marilyn signing as "Marilyn R" not a general question about the use of the "R".

PhD Historian said...

TudorRose, I do admire your enthusiasm, but I do also sometimes wonder where you get your (erroneous) information.

"Rex" is the Latin word for "king," not "reigns or rules." And "regina" is simply the feminine form and is usually translated "queen."

And though the wives of kings often signed their names "So-and-so the queen," they usually did so to let the reader know which Mary or Elizabeth or Jane or Frances or Katherine they were. A letter signed simply "Mary" might otherwise be confused as having come from Mary Tudor the king's daughter, Mary Tudor the king
's sister, or Mary Boleyn the king's sometime mistress. And a queen-consort seldom used "R" ... though there were exceptions ... because the "R" usually implied that the signer was him or herself the monarch ... as in "Elizabeth R."

Your generalizations about the status of women and their power relative to men is just that: a very broad generalization. Many women, including and especially royal women, exercised considerable power, albeit largely informally. William Cecil's wife Mildred was so "powerful" that foreign ambassadors often lobbied her rather than her husband in the hope that she would persuade William to act in the ambassadors' favor.

Poverty was not necessarily a bar to any education at all ("no education for them"). Some parishes did offer education to poor boys, and there were scholarships available at many church schools specifically for "poor scholars."

Males of the aristocracy and nobility did not ordinarily "attend school," at least not in the sense of grammar and secondary schools. Any family with the ability to do so usually hired private tutors for their sons ... and daughters, in the 16th century. Leaving the house to "go to school" was for the middle and lower sorts, not the wealthy.

All of the above is totally off the original question, but I did want to be sure that readers are offered factually correct information......

Lara said...

I did find one reference to Oatlands in "Building in England Down to 1540 - A Documentary History" by L. F. Salzman, about the wages of freemasons working on the windows and doors of Oatlands. They were apparently taking stone from Chertsey Abbey and were paid overtime for "the hasty expedition" of the doors and windows. The footnote reference is - Exch. K.R. acct. 459, 22.

Although there isn't much on Oatlands specifically, the books has a wealth of detail on medieval (and early Ren) building in England.

Marilyn R said...

I had never thought of the "R" business before. It's the first letter of my surname and I used it only to distinguish myself from another Marilyn who makes a comment on the Tudor History Blog from time to time."Queen Marilyn", or "Marilyn the quene" doesn't exactly trip off the tongue!

Lindsey said...

Yes, Lara, you were quite right in your comment: "TudorRose, the "R" comment I think was just in reference to Marilyn signing as "Marilyn R" not a general question about the use of the "R"". I was only just tweaking Marilyn in regard to the addition of "R" to her name. Thanks for clarifying that. And thanks to Marilyn R for letting us know that she is not a "regina" after all!

I am hoping that Duncan will let us know what, if any, information he has uncovered in regard to his particular interest in Oatlands Palace.