Take an audio walk around the palace

PANDEMIC precautions during the past year have prevented the regular open days at Woking Palace, but it’s still possible to visit the borough’s most-important historic site in the company of an expert archaeologist.

The open days include guided tours led by members of the Friends of Woking Palace, who look after what was a former manor house and royal residence in the old Manor of Woking.

The conserved remains of Woking Palace, which English Heritage says is of enormous archaeological importance

The open days are not taking place “in person” but you can still enjoy an audio-guided walk around the palace during the lockdown.

A new, free downloadable audio walk includes historical insights into the palace, Old Woking and the surrounding area. The circular tour is around three-and-a-half miles and takes about 75 minutes.

It starts and finishes at Manor Way car park in Old Woking, by the mini roundabout at the junction of High Street and Broadmead Road, the road to Send. Free long-stay parking is available in the larger car park, beyond the smaller short-stay area.

The audio walk has been created by community archaeologist Hannah Potter, who is based at Surrey County Archaeological Unit (SCAU) in Surrey History Centre, with help and support from the Friends and Woking Borough Council.

Woking Palace was the site of a Tudor residence with origins dating back to 13th century. Little of the building survives above ground today, but the circular walk and audio guide shares what has been learned about this important site.

An aerial view of Woking Palace and the surrounding countryside (copyright Stephen Wilder Photography)

Using the latest research, reconstructions, and results from a series of excavations, the guide sheds light on what life was like in Old Woking and the palace 500 years ago.

It’s advisable to download the guide to your smartphone, rather than listening via the web link, as there is limited phone signal at the Woking Palace site, says Jean Follett of the Friends. “The walk is a mixture of road, track and footpath, with some uneven ground and other trip hazards, and includes a stile,” she said

The audio for the tour automatically starts when you begin walking. It displays site maps on your phone and even plays some period music!

In the first sections of the tour, Hannah narrates a brief history of Woking and explains that its original Saxon name was Wocchingas, after a tribe who lived here under a leader called Wocc – Wocchingas means “people of Wocc”.

She adds that the original medieval town of Woking was built around St Peter’s Church in what we now call Old Woking. The modern town of Woking grew around the railway station, which opened in 1838 and was originally called Woking Common.

When you reach the Woking Palace site, Hannah makes sense of the ruins which survive and explains what you would have seen before you when the palace was newly built, more than 500 years ago.

Before obtaining the audio guide, you will need to download the izi.TRAVEL app to your phone from www.izi.travel/en/app. Once the app is installed, the guide can be accessed by searching for “Woking Palace”.

You can also view the tour on a PC, tablet or smartphone before your visit, via the audio guides section of the izi.TRAVEL website. It should be on the first page of the audio guides section – search for “Woking Palace” if it is not there.

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