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Uncovering buried treasures at Woking Palace

PUBLISHED: 12:34 11 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 February 2013

RARE Valencian tiles were just one of the finds uncovered by archaeologists carrying out excavations at the ruins of Woking Palace over the summer

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2009

RARE Valencian tiles were just one of the finds uncovered by archaeologists carrying out excavations at the ruins of Woking Palace over the summer.

Armed with trowels, hand-shovels and buckets, people from the local community joined Surrey County Council and Surrey Archaeological Society for the dig.

Finds of coins show that the site was already occupied in the early 13th century, well before the first written record of buildings, says Rob Poulton, manager of Surrey County Councils archaeological unit. The most interesting finds from the site were elegantly patterned blue and white tiles from the 15th century, which were imported from Valencia in Spain an extremely rare discovery in England.

The excavations were a great success. Almost 200 people participated in a variety of roles on the dig, and 500 visited on the open day.

Making this important part of their heritage better known to the residents of Woking was a key aim of the dig and the results have shown what a wealth of history lies beneath the ground there.

A manor house was first recorded on the Woking Palace site, just off Carters Lane, in 1271. It was granted to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, in 1464 before being rebuilt as a palace in 1508. The following year, the palace was passed to Henry VIII, who along with his second wife Anne Boleyn had a major rebuilding programme carried out on the site in 1533 and 1534. Woking Palace has been designated a scheduled ancient monument of national importance by English Heritage.

The Friends of Woking Palace, which was formed in 2003, have said that the archaeological excavations taking place this year are just the beginning of a scheduled three-year programme, which will reveal a much more complete picture of how Henry VII transformed the manorial site into a favourite residence, and its subsequent development.

  • The findings from the dig will be revealed as part of the Royals and Revolutions lecture series at the Surrey History Centre in Woking on Saturday November 28. For more information, call 01483 518737.

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