'The little castle, 18 miles from London, lies on a slope and command the most glorious view'
- Composer Joseph Haydn, during a visit to Oatlands House in 1791
Oatlands Palace was a great royal residence built for King Henry VIII in 1537. It once stood in the middle of Weybridge and has witnessed many important historical events. It was briefly the home of Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, and it is thought that he married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard at Oatlands. In the seventeenth century, the Palace remained the home of the Stuart Queens who employed the best architects and gardeners to modify Oatlands to their tastes. The Palace was demolished in 1650 following the English Civil War, but you can still see one of the restored archways on Tudor Walk in Weybridge.
After Oatlands Palace was lost its name continued in Oatlands House, built on a different site but within the original grounds of the Palace. The House was an aristocratic home that was remodelled over the years from successive owners including the popular Duke and Duchess of York in the late eighteenth century. They also significantly reconstructed the House following a fire in 1794. Oatlands House eventually became Oatlands Park Hotel, which was requisitioned as a New Zealand hospital in the First World War for 'medical & tuberculosis cases and limbless men'.
Objects from Oatlands Palace were found during archaeological excavations in 1964, 1983 and 1984 and tell us much more about life at the Tudor Palace. Elmbridge Museum holds and cares for this nationally significant collection along with items relating to Oatlands House. Select objects from this collection are on display in the foyer at the Civic Centre in Esher from Monday 22 June for a limited period.