Nonsuch – Henry VIII’s lost palace
Until the summer of 1959, one of the most important Tudor buildings was known to only a very few as the great palace had vanished about 150 years after the time it was constructed. The historians were aware of a few historical sources, which described the opulence of the Renaissance detail and high quality craftsmanship. The existing original images that captured its beauty inspired them to pursue its location for decades.
It was the most extravagant palace of Henry VIII, which was entirely built from scratch and decorated by Italian artists in a new architectural style unknown in England. The originality of the complex was characterised by its unique combination of Gothic and Renaissance elements merged together. The fusion of styles has since become a hallmark of the Tudor era and furthermore it influenced English designs for centuries when secular architecture flourished. The importance of this royal residence in the history of the Early English Renaissance had been realised for a long time but there was little detailed information about it. It was only after 1959, when excavation works took place, that archeologists were able to analyse the ground floor plan and rediscover the remains of its decorations to establish its role in the development of a national architectural style in England. Its name was Nonsuch as it had no equal.
The purpose of this article is to collect existing archaeological discoveries and facts to present the history of one of the most important buildings in England in a comprehensible and succinct manner.
Key words: palace, Nonsuch, Henry VIII, Surrey, Cuddington
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