A team of archaeologists working on a development beneath the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich have unearthed remains of two rooms of Greenwich Palace. The birthplace of Henry VIII as well as his daughters – Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I – Greenwich Palace occupied the site on the banks of the River Thames before it was demolished in the 17th century and the College was constructed in its place.
Greenwich Palace was once of a comparable size to Hampton Court Palace and had the requisite state apartments, chapel gardens and outdoor space required of a royal palace in use by the extended court.
Though the exact use of the rooms remains unknown, evidenced uncovered suggests, they might have been part of the suite of kitchen rooms. This is based on the facts that one of the rooms features a lead-glazed tiled floor and in the other wall cavities were discovered which experts believe could have stored food and drink to keep it chilled in summer and beehive baskets in the winter months when the colony was in hibernation.
Speaking to local news site Wharf.co.uk, Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, said: “This is a really remarkable find. The Tudor period is one which grips the public imagination like no other, probably because of the larger-than-life characters like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, as well as the significance of the buildings.
“To find a trace of Greenwich Palace, arguably the most important of all the Tudor palaces, is hugely exciting.”
Greenwich Palace was originally built by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester in 1443 and was then rebuilt by Henry VII between 1498 and 1504. It was the principal royal palace for English monarchs for the next two centuries but fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was eventually demolished to make way for a new palace commissioned by Charles II. Unfortunately, the new design was never completed, and the site remained empty until the Greenwich Hospital – later the Greenwich Royal Naval College – began construction in 1694.