Tuesday, November 3, 2015

GLORIANA! The ABC's of the Reign of Our Most Gracious Sovereign, Elizabeth N is for Nonsuch Palace

Nonsuch Palace in Surrey looked like this:

When Henry VIII, who loved hunting, got too old and too fat to chase deer, birds, rabbits on horseback, he bought property and built Nonsuch Palace - a hunting lodge.
Inconveniently located on the site of his future hunting lodge where, get this, he'd only have to sit on his horse while minions chased animals in front of him, were a manor house and a village.
He not only flattened the manor house and the village, he built a palace without equal, using funds that Thomas Cromwell generously supplied the crown after the dissolution of the monasteries.
Rather than using the money previously held by the church to continue to help the needy, etc, Cromwell said
and sold off everything on eBay to anyone in the market for church silver and gold - and brought all that cash back to the king's coffers. 

Being old, fat, and the brand-new father of a legitimate male heir, Henry decided he deserved a reward.
By using his newly-fattened bank accounts, Henry VIII was able to drop a cool 24,000 pounds on Nonsuch Palace (today that would be 7.4M - and thank you, Suzannah Lipscomb, your very excellent book A Visitor's Companion to Tudor England, Ebury Press, 2012 helped me immeasurably in this post.)  
It was a hunting lodge of jaw-dropping proportions.
Frosty Intervals: Jaw-dropping
"Whoah! Nice work, your majesty!" 
The exterior was as fanciful as one of those elaborate gingerbread constructions done by four-star hotels to decorate their lobby at Christmas time - but this was no miniature; the place was massive.
10 epic gingerbread house fails | Homemade
No, not like that.
Yeah - more like that. 

The design of Nonsuch Palace was non-standard for the day; instead of a Great Hall - which served exactly like the multi-purpose room at your middle school; dining room, gymnasium, square-dancing class, school dances location - there was a Long Gallery.
A Long Gallery was exactly that; a place where bored courtiers could take a bit of exercise during foul weather with no chance of getting water spots on their velvet doo-dads. 
Alternately, being English and prone to sunburn as they had the whitest white skin on Earth (trust me, we still do) the Long Gallery also saw a lot of action when Mr. Golden Sun shone down on them. 

No end of stuff to look at; there were slate carved panels like this:
Sixteenth century painted panels, perhaps originally from Nonsuch Palace. They are now located at Loseley Park. The panels bear the initials of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife.: Tudor History, Painted Panels, Henry Viii S, British History ️, Viii S Sixth, Century Panels, Century Painted, Panels Bear, Catherine Parr
Panels believed to be from Nonsuch Palace; note the 'KP' in the center; Katherine Parr, almost certainly.
which, even if a bit heavy-handed with the whole king/God partnership thing, are still pretty and a lovely distraction.
White plaster work was everywhere with carved and gilded frames for that all-important 'pop of color!' 
(To get the feel for plaster work, here is a modern artist who thoughtfully has a website with examples of his work, sure to light up your imagination: http://www.geoffreypreston.co.uk/portfolio/ )

And, having built Nonsuch over the decade spanning from 1538-1548, did the king roll in every now and then to enjoy the Hunting Lodge the Monasteries Built?
Not too much; he died in 1547.
Henry's son, Edward VI, aged nine at the time he was crowned, kept Nonsuch Palace in the crown's grasp.
Edward VI was a Protestant little guy.
As such, he couldn't, he felt, in good faith (lol) leave the English in the hands of his very, very Catholic half-sister, Lady Mary, named by their very own dear old dad as Edward's successor.
Instead, he did a do-over with the succession and left his crown to his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who was knocked off the throne in short order by the Lady Mary who'd finally had enough of being treated like a second-class citizen for most of her life.

Catholic Mary I, victorious and with crown on head and scepter in hand, sold off one the dirty results of the trashed monasteries, the profane pleasure palace of Nonsuch, to the Earl of Arundel.
Location, location, location! Apparently the Earl of Arundel thought Nonsuch Palace would be a great location for his Halloween Costume Party - he's seen here in his 'Swords and Sandals' incarnation.
He, in turn, passed it on to Lord Lumley 
Lord Lumley, Nonsuch Palace inhabitant for awhile . . . 

and Lord Lumley was relieved of the place when Elizabeth I 'acquired' it in 1592.
"That's right, bitches - first I'm taking back Nonsuch, and Calais is next!" - what Elizabeth I never said.
Elizabeth I, having spent time at Nonsuch in the dawn of the seventeenth century, got an itchy foot and was ready to move on to somewhere else.
Her 'people,' aware of the queen's age and anxious to minimize risk to her person, tried to talk her into chilling at Nonsuch awhile longer.
Having none of that, she told them the old and the frail could remain behind; the young and the fit would accompany her.
LOL!!! P'wned!!! :-P
"Outta my way! I'm the fittest!"
You can bet 'her people' scrambled all over each other to show how young and fit they were.

The rest of the history, and the eventual demolition of, Nonsuch Palace is a bitter reminder of the soul-sucking properties of a gambling addiction: Nonsuch rolled on until the late seventeenth century, when Charles II handed it over to his mistress, Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.
For more about Cleveland, go here:
and this

Back to Charles II mistress: she had heavy gambling debts.
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Wishing to avoid a scene like this, 
"Fuck you! Pay me!"

she got busy raising cash.
She'd converted to  Roman Catholicism in 1663 (I'm not making any judgments here, but Nonsuch was sold out of the crown's holdings by a Catholic queen, and then destroyed by a Catholic mistress to the king - remember how Nonsuch was originally funded - coincidence? I dunno - you tell me) and faster than you can say, "liquidation sale!" she'd put the whole thing under the hammer to pay off her gambling debts. 

Nonsuch Palace was no more. 
In 1959, the (former) location of Nonsuch was discovered.
That amazing hunting lodge, of which there was none such to compare, is now a bunch of stones.
The only place to see it as a living structure with the hustle and bustle of royal court goings-on is in your mind's eye. 

*If you really love the idea of honoring Nonsuch Palace, go here:http://www.thehousedirectory.com/blog/nushka_nonsuch_palace
to buy fabric design,
Yes, please - have this made into curtains for the Long Gallery. . .

 based on a block print of Nonsuch, made in the early eighteenth century.

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