Unearthing the past at Woking Palace

FRIENDS of Woking Palace held their yearly archaeological excavation open day on Sunday, proving to the public that the medieval site still has more hidden treasures to be revealed.

On a day when the sun and palace shined in equal measure, the community-based project had residents join in their revival mission in a special community trench.

As part of their ‘dig for a day’ programme experienced volunteers dug alongside guests to help introduce the borough’s famous Tudor site, a former home to Henry VIII, to residents. Woking MP Jonathan Lord was just one of the many faces to drop in on the weekend and said: “The palace has such a rich history dating back far longer than I thought.

“It has been a pleasure seeing everyone from the volunteers to the speakers all pitching in together to make the day possible.”

The foundations of the moat, a prominent feature of the ruin near Carters Lane, date back to as early as the 1200s, and the main set of buildings date to around the 1300s – according to tour guide Andy Lobham, who talked about the Friends of Woking Palace’s finds.

There was a number of animal bones discovered in the kitchen, which was detached from the main house for fear of fire. Remains found on site were from many different types of birds and fish.

Other finds included; a gold hat pin thought to date back to the late 15th-century; an intricately designed green-glazed plate likely to have been used at banquets; and a complete glazed pottery lid.

The displays, which allowed visitors to touch a piece of history, also included one of the more unusual finds discovered at the site, a small part of a clay toy horse.

The artefacts are being stored in the Saving Our Heritage section of The Lightbox until November.

Council leader John Kingsbury tipped his hat to the men and women behind the site’s dig. He said: “I’ve really enjoyed being down here on such a beautiful day, and feel that the Friends of Woking have unearthed some real rarities.”

Access to the palace is restricted to organised visits. If you would like to bring a group on to the site email info@ woking-palace.org or call 07722 299026.

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