Woking Palace excavation

Wednesday, 22 July, 2009 - 10:00 to Sunday, 9 August, 2009 - 18:00

Woking Palace Archaeological Project 2009


Members of the Society are invited to apply for places on this summer’s excavations at the 8 acre moated site of Woking Palace, taking place between Wednesday 22 July and Sunday 9 August 2009.

Archaeological background
The exceptionally large (8 acre) moated site at Woking Palace (Scheduled Ancient Monument No 12752) was the manor house of the Royal manor of Woking from at least 1272. During the following 200 years it was granted to and often occupied by those close to the throne, including the Despencers (it was moated by the time of their execution in 1326), the Earls of Kent and Somerset, and Lady Margaret Beaufort (the mother of Henry VII) who lived there with her third husband.  In 1503 its status was further enhanced when Henry VII decided to develop the property as a Palace, and it continued to be favoured and developed under the Tudors.  Its remains include well-preserved moats, ruined and standing structures, and fishponds, all set within a 590 acre deerpark started in the 13th century and enlarged repeatedly up to the time of Henry VIII.  Some limited archaeology has taken place, but it is as yet impossible to tell a coherent story of the development of this royal complex.
      The quality of the site has been very well expressed in the Scheduled Monument entry:
‘Woking Palace is of particular importance because of its excellent survival, high diversity, enormous archaeological potential both on the island itself and in the waterlogged moats and particularly because of its historical association with royalty and the amenity value which is afforded by this association.’

The project
It is envisaged that the project will focus around three summer seasons of excavation over a period of three years.  However, activities both before (eg historical research, topographical, standing building, geophysical and other surveys) and after (eg processing and study of finds and records, communicating the results) will be of equal importance.  A variety of other activities, such as exploration of the landscape context of the site, art and photographic competitions, study days and courses may also be organised.
 In the longer term it is anticipated that the project will provide much improved public interpretation for the Palace, both on and off site, and that it will become much more of a focal point for appreciation of the heritage by the local community.  The work will also be of considerable value in a wider historical context, not least for an understanding of the development of a royal household from the 13th to 16th centuries, linking and enhancing the knowledge gained in recent years from detailed study of the 13th century Palace at Guildford and the Tudor Palaces of Nonsuch and Oatlands.



The days of excavation are expected to be as follows:


Wednesday 22 July to Sunday 26 July

Wednesday 29 July to Sunday 2 August

Tuesday 4 August to Friday 7 August


with a public Open Day on Sunday 9 August.


Members who have at least five days excavation experience will join teams under the supervision of Rob Poulton of SCAU, while those with less or no practical experience will have the opportunity to ‘dig for a day’ in the Community Archaeology trench, supervised by Abby Guinness. Places are limited and those interested should apply as soon as possible. All places are free to members of the Society.


Further details can be obtained from Richard Savage at richard.savage@btinternet.com or by phoning 01483 768875

Postal Address: 
Woking Palace
Old Woking