Richmond Palace (Tudor Palace) History

What is the significance of Richmond Palace (Tudor Palace)?

Richmond Palace, the first Tudor palace was rebuilt in 1501 by the Henry VII of England, the Earl of Richmond.

Formerly known as Sheen Palace, it was built on the banks of river Thames in Surrey, England.

Built of white stone the majestic building had three lavish courtyards with towers and cupolas facing the river Thames.

The palace had three stories with 12 rooms on each floor. There was a significant amount of extravagance involved in the making of the Palace with beautiful luxurious rooms, a great hall, a chapel, and elaborate private chambers.

The ground floor contained rooms for court officials. A bridge over the moat connected the private chambers with the central courtyard with a beautiful water fountain right at the center.

The ceiling of the chapel was ornamented with beautiful plaster roses and chequered timber with wine cellars underneath.

The palace gardens had open tennis courtyards and playgrounds. There were private kitchens and public libraries as well.

The Richmond Palace has endured a lot throughout the years. It might have lost its former glory, but reminiscent of the palace still stands today evident of the forgotten stories of the great kings and queens that once lived there.

Richmond Palace
Richmond Palace

History of Richmond Palace

Originally known as the Manor of Shene, it dates back to 1299 when it was owned by Otto de Grandson, a knight who was at the service of King Edward I. Later, on Edward I’s death, Otto de Grandson left England and the manor went to the hands of the royal family.

It was during the mid-14th century when the actual restoration work began under the reign of Richard II and it was turned into the royal Sheen Palace.

Richard II, the first monarch of Richmond lived there along with his wife Anne of Bohemia. Tragedy stroke and a deadly plague surfaced in the entire town. Anne died and Richard was devastated.

A grief-stricken Richard demanded the complete demolition of the palace and his wishes were fulfilled.

The Sheen Palace
The Sheen Palace

The restoration of Richmond Palace

The first major work of restoration was undertaken by Henry V. He undertook some large-scale restoration work but it halted upon his death in 1422.

In 1445, Henry VI’s wife Margaret of Anjou took over the repair work, but very little was done. In 1550, Edward IV gifted the palace to his wife Queen Elizabeth Woodville who lived there until 1487 until when it was taken over by Henry VII.

Richmond Palace: The return of grandeur

It was under Henry VII’s reign that the palace witnessed its growth and splendor. Henry quite contrary to what people called him a miser, took great efforts and spend a lot of his wealth to restore this palace. He wanted to make it the crowning glory of England.

Henry formerly renamed the Sheen Palace as the Richmond Palace to honour his family name and soon the whole area came to be known as Richmond.

Everything was working quite well until a major fire broke out on the night of the Christmas in 1497. The fire originated in one of the private chambers and turned everything into ashes.

Henry did not succumb to his loss and started with the restoration work. In 1501, the palace was complete and turned into one of the outstanding Tudor palaces of that time.

Richmond Palace has witnessed many important events during Henry’s reign. The wedding celebration of his eldest son Prince Arthur to Catherine of Aragon took place here. In 1503, the betrothal of Henry’s daughter Princess Margaret to King James of Scotland also took place here in this palace.

Series of misfortunes that followed Richmond Palace

Unfortunately, just 5 years later in 1506, another fire broke out in the King’s chamber, but it did not touch the other parts of the building.

In 1507, one of the galleries collapsed almost killing the would-be king. The king was furious and imprisoned its builders.

Richmond Palace: The house of forgotten queens

Henry VII died in 1509 in Richmond. His son Henry VIII exchanged the Richmond Palace with Thomas Wolsey and took Hampton Court to be his new home.

Richmond Palace soon became the favourite place for Henry’s daughters Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. Mary spent her honeymoon here after she got married to Philip II of Spain.

The palace was the winter home for Queen Elizabeth and she spent many of her nights here. She used to hunt stag in the “Newe Parke of Richmond” which is now known as Old Deer Park. It is also notable for many of the performances and plays of William Shakespeare that took place here.

Elizabeth took her final breath here and died in 1603 in Richmond.

Old Deer Park, England
Old Deer Park, England

The end of Richmond Palace

In 1625, King Charles bought this place and lived here until his execution. The Commonwealth tore down and demolished many parts of the building and sold out much of the stones.

Many restoration works were done under the reign of Charles II but it never recovered the blow. Much of the grounds were leased out to recover the loss but by this time the palace has lost its former glory.

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