We all know Buckingham Palace. Hampton Court Place and Kensington Palace – of course! But how about Woking Palace?
It was once a large and important palace, used by Tudor royalty from King Henry VII through to Queen Elizabeth I. The first house on the site, beside the River Wey, was probably erected in 1217. Successive building on the site over the centuries resulted in a substantial complex of buildings.
Today Woking Palace is a collection of ruins on a peaceful site hidden away in the countryside near Old Woking village. But this weekend (Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 July) the Friends of Woking Palace – a local voluntary preservation group – will show it is much more than mere left-overs.
They are holding a Festival of Archaeology on this site of Woking’s palatial link with Tudor royalty, which is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
From 11am to 5pm both days, volunteers from the Friends of Woking Palace will provide information and lead tours around the eight acre moated site. There will be displays about its fascinating history, including the discoveries made during archaeological excavations over the years from 2009 to 2015, which revealed even more about the Palace’s illustrious past.
The studies were mainly the result of a three-year Heritage Lottery Funded project “Woking Palace and its Park”, which included major archaeological excavations by many volunteers and schoolchildren.
Other attractions this weekend will include children’s activities, the history of bee keeping, Tudor juggling by Hattie Hyder, and demonstrations of traditional woodworking crafts by John Waller (underwoodsman).
For the first time at a Woking Palace open day, Tudor re-enactor Catherine Guilder – recently on TV as an expert in “The Repair Shop” on BBC One – will provide demonstrations of Tudor Life, including medicine and folklore.
There will also be displays about Surrey Archaeological Society’s ongoing Test Pitting Project in Old Woking. Guidebooks, CDs and postcards of Woking Palace as well as other publications will be on sale in an on-site pavilion.
Site access is only by foot or cycle; there is no on-site parking or along the narrow private road (Carters Lane) leading to it. Cars can be parked free of charge in Old Woking, in the large car park behind the short stay car park at the mini roundabout.
Disabled visitors should contact the Friends of Woking Palace on 07722 299026 to arrange access.
For lots of information about Woking Palace and the Open Day this weekend, visit the Friends of Woking Palace’s excellent web site: www.woking-palace.org.
The Friends are always looking for volunteers to help with preservation, site maintenance, preparations for Open Days and to act as guides on those days. Membership of the Friends is just £5 per annum (£7.50 for family membership). Members receive regular newsletters full of articles and news, and can participate in meetings and influence the work of the Friends.