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Nonsuch Palace, its formal gardens and associated remains, and Cuddington medieval settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Nonsuch, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.3533 / 51°21'11"N

Longitude: -0.2404 / 0°14'25"W

OS Eastings: 522627.913262

OS Northings: 163048.422743

OS Grid: TQ226630

Mapcode National: GBR 9X.J30

Mapcode Global: VHGRP.S79X

Entry Name: Nonsuch Palace, its formal gardens and associated remains, and Cuddington medieval settlement

Scheduled Date: 10 November 1969

Last Amended: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017998

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31390

County: Surrey

Electoral Ward/Division: Nonsuch

Built-Up Area: Sutton

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Ewell St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument, which occupies two separate areas on the western edge of Nonsuch
Park, includes the Tudor royal palace of Nonsuch, its formal gardens and
banqueting house, and the earlier medieval village of Cuddington, demolished
to make way for the construction of the palace. Nonsuch Park is an area of
public open space lying between the towns of Ewell to the south west and Cheam
to the north east, on the south western outskirts of modern metropolitan
London. The monument survives in the form of below ground foundations and
associated buried remains, a ruined structure and earthworks.
The main palace buildings of Nonsuch, situated near the eastern edge of the
monument, survive in the form of buried foundations. They were constructed
mainly between 1538-1547 for the ageing Henry VIII, and, as with all of
his palaces, he played an active part in drawing up the design. Nonsuch
and its two associated deer parks lay within a vast, newly created royal
hunting forest known as the Honour of Hampton Court, also served by Oatlands
Palace 13km to the west at Weybridge. The new chase was close to the capital
because the King's deteriorating health prevented him from travelling to his
favourite hunting grounds in Oxfordshire. As its name suggests, Nonsuch,
although essentially a private royal hunting lodge, was also intended to rival
and surpass the architectural splendour of other Early Renaissance palaces,
particularly the great continental examples such as Fontainebleau in France.
The original appearance of the main buildings, most of which were demolished
between 1682-88, is recorded by four contemporary illustrations, the most
detailed of which is a water-colour of the south eastern facade by Joris
Hoefnagel, dating to 1568. Investigations carried out in 1959-60 confirmed
that the foundations range around two adjoining, NNW-SSE aligned quadrangular
courtyards each covering around 60 square metres. These were served by an
attached, rectangular kitchen block to the north east. The main approach to
the palace was from the north west, and the outer court was entered from the
carriage road by way of a centrally-placed, turreted gatehouse. Historical
sources indicate that the cobbled and paved courtyard was surrounded by tall,
brick and stone, two-storeyed ranges topped with crenellated parapets. Suites
of rooms opened off from central staircases on each side of the courtyard. The
adjoining, half-timbered inner court lay to the south east and was reached by
steps leading down through an inner gatehouse. Its basic plan mirrored that of
the outer court, elaborated by tall, inward-facing bay windows, octagonal
projecting corner towers and, decorating its timber-framed upper storeys, a
sequence of plaster-stucco panels depicting, in high relief, scenes from
classical history and mythology, framed by borders of incised and painted
black slate.
The palace gardens were unfinished at the time of Henry VIII's death in 1547,
and so date partly to the later 16th century, when the Nonsuch Estate had
passed to Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, and his son-in-law, John, Lord
Lumley. The extent and original appearance of the walled gardens which
surrounded the main palace buildings have been revealed by the analysis of
contemporary descriptions and illustrations, a survey of 1993-95 and part
excavation in 1930, 1959-60 and 1996. They survive as a levelled landscaped
area of 3.2ha containing boundary earthworks, buried wall foundations and
associated archaeological features, originally enclosed by walls over 4m high.
Around the inner court to the south east was the privy garden and, surrounding
the outer court, a kitchen garden and orchard. The natural hillslope to the
south east was partly removed to form the south eastern edge of the gardens,
and investigations revealed the foundations of a brick revetment which
originally supported the resultant, 1.9m high scarp. The privy garden was
embellished with Tudor knots, topiary and maze hedges, a central fountain and
statuary representing royal emblems and heraldic subjects. A now demolished
stable or coach house was sited in its south western corner. The south eastern
sector of the privy garden has been partly disturbed by the construction of a
modern park keepers lodge, which is excluded from the scheduling. Beyond the
garden wall to the north west is a level sub-rectangular platform interpreted
as a Tudor bowling green and an originally open, grassed area known as the
Adjoining the south western side of the walled garden and of identical
alignment and dimensions is the Wilderness, originally an area of dense oak
and elm plantations and sports areas divided by broad sandy walks, enclosed by
a tall hedge and surviving boundary earthworks. The north eastern half of the
Wilderness has been disturbed by the buildings of Cherry Orchard Farm, a
post-medieval farm demolished in the 1970s. Immediately to the south west is a
smaller, sub-square compartment on a slightly different alignment, thought to
represent the Grove of Diana. This is known from contemporary descriptions to
have contained decorative water features, including a grotto or pool, and
neo-classical marble structures which included a temple and a group of
allegorical statuary depicting Actaeon's punishment by the goddess Diana.
Adjoining the grove on the higher ground to the south west is a rectangular
garden compartment, the south eastern corner of which contains the ruined
remains of the palace banqueting house, Listed Grade II. This enjoyed
panoramic views of the surrounding parkland and survives as a raised, 1m high
octagonal platform, with four circular corner bastions. The platform is edged
by a brick revetment constructed during the early 20th century, incorporating
some original Tudor bricks. Documentary sources and evidence from the
excavations reveal that the centrally placed banqueting house, which survives
in the form of buried foundations, was a small, roughly square timber-framed
building of two storeys with viewing balconies and an underground cellar.
Traces of a contemporary bakehouse were found around 30m to the north west,
and other associated demolished structures, including a well and wash-house
mentioned in a survey of 1650, can be expected to survive as buried
foundations within the garden compartment. Part of the south western sector of
the compartment was heavily disturbed by the construction of the cutting for
the modern A24 Ewell bypass, and this area is therefore not included in the
scheduling. An electricity sub-station constructed near the western edge of
the monument to the west of the bypass is excluded from the scheduling.
The site chosen for Nonsuch was occupied until 1538 by the church, houses and
fields of the small medieval village of Cuddington. Henry VIII obtained
Cuddington, which was in existence by Domesday, from its owner Richard
Coddington, in exchange for the manor of Ixworth in Suffolk. The King's survey
of 1537 records that the medieval settlement had four main farmsteads grouped
around a church and newly-built manor house. These were demolished to make way
for the palace, and the 1959-60 investigations revealed that the palace's
inner court was laid out around the surviving foundations, and above the
graveyard of, the originally Norman, flint and stone-built church. Underlying
traces of an earlier, timber-built church were also discovered, and over 100
burials were found within the surrounding graveyard. The foundations of
outbuildings associated with the earlier manor house were revealed beneath the
south western range of the palace's outer court. Further below ground remains
of the medieval settlement can be expected to survive in the areas beyond the
main palace buildings. Vicarage Lane, a south west-north east aligned trackway
which runs along the north western edge of the western end of the monument, is
thought to have formed part of the original access route into the medieval
The royal palace stood near the centre of Nonsuch Little Park, a planned
landscape and deer park which covered an area of around 268ha. To the north
was Nonsuch Great Park, later known as Worcester Park. Most of Worcester Park
and the southern part of Nonsuch Little Park have been covered by modern
housing developments. Some original features associated with the Tudor Little
Park have been identified in the areas beyond the monument, within modern
Nonsuch Park. These include, around 450m north east of the main palace
buildings, the possible site of the great stables, and a length of in situ
Tudor wall, thought to represent part of the original park-keeper's lodge, now
incorporated into the north eastern garden wall of Nonsuch Park House. This is
a later, mainly 18th century mansion 850m north east of the main palace
buildings. Within its gardens is a chalk quarry thought to be the source of
material used to construct the royal palace. The mansion house also contains
an inscribed caen-stone date plaque of 1543 reset into its north western
entrance porch. Nonsuch Park House and its garden wall are Listed Grade II.
Just to the north east of the monument, a large, south west-north east
aligned,`L'-shaped ditch, known as Diana's Dyke or the Long Ditch, has been
interpreted as a Tudor drainage or ornamental feature. Further below ground
archaeological evidence, earthworks and environmental remains relating to the
approaches, grounds, water-supply and drainage of the palace can be expected
to survive in the areas beyond the monument.
Nonsuch became Crown property again in 1592 and Elizabeth I often stayed at
the palace and hunted in the parks. Charles II granted the estate to the
Babara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine, in 1670, and, after a period of
neglect, the buildings were demolished, the materials sold and the Little Park
disparked. Later land use, including past cultivation and other agricultural
activities, scrub growth and tree planting, and the excavation of anti-glider
trenches during World War II, will have caused some disturbance to the
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the modern
park lodge, its garage, outbuildings and garden features, all modern paths,
tracks and paving, fences, waymarker posts, the granite pillars which mark the
palace foundations and the electricity sub-station; the ground beneath all
these features is, however, included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Nonsuch forms one of a group of broadly contemporary royal palaces, including
Oatlands and Hampton Court, built around the south western periphery of London
by Henry VIII. Although its buildings were comparatively small and lacked a
great hall or other large, formal reception rooms, Nonsuch was, as its name
suggests, envisaged from the start as a showpiece, a building without equal.
Construction work began on 22 April 1538, the 30th anniversary of the King's
accession, and also celebrated the birth of his long awaited son and heir,
Prince Edward, six months earlier. The main planning displays a typically
Tudor emphasis on symmetry, balance and order, with the allegorical decorative
embellishments of the inner court and gardens providing an additional element
of fancy, grandeur and mystique. No expense was spared, and the resultant
palace was regarded by contemporaries as a success, playing a key role in the
development of Tudor architecture and the acceptance of the Renaissance style
in England. During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, important visitors
from all over Europe visited Nonsuch to marvel at its buildings and gardens.
The earlier medieval village of Cuddington represents a comparatively rare
example of a nucleated medieval rural settlement within the Thames sub-
province of south eastern England. This area, densely wooded during the
medieval period, is characterised by medium to high densities of dispersed
farmsteads. Medieval rural settlements were organised agricultural
communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared
resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Settlement plans varied
enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing
features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and
other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks.
They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries and as part
of the manorial system most settlements included one or more manorial centres
which may survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. The
archaeological remains of settlements are one of the most important sources of
understanding rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman
Although largely surviving in the form of earthworks and below ground
archaeological remains, Nonsuch Palace and its gardens are well-documented by
detailed building accounts, contemporary descriptions and illustrations. Part
excavation and survey have confirmed that the monument retains evidence
relating to the original form, extent and appearance of the palace.
The wholesale demolition of Cuddington village to make way for the later
palace is an early example of village removal, and part excavation, historical
research and survey have added to our understanding of its original form.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bartlett, A D H, Nonsuch Palace Gardens, Report on Magnetometer Survey, (1996)
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works 1485-1660 , (1982)
Oswald, A, Nonsuch Park Request Survey, (1996)
Poulton, R, An Archaeological Evaluation of Land at Nonsuch Palace Gardens, (1996)
Poulton, R, Nonsuch Palace Gardens Geophysical Survey, (1996)
Biddle, M, 'Country Life' in The Vanished Gardens of Nonsuch, (1961), 1008-10
Biddle, M, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Nonsuch Palace 1959-60: An Interim Report, , Vol. 58, (1961), 1-20
Biddle, M, 'The Burlington Magazine' in The Stuccoes of Nonsuch, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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