In September 2022, West Horsley Place Trust began investigating the development of the Manor House through an archaeology and building recording project called What Lies Beneath.

Please find part one here with an introduction to the Manor House in 1428 

Part Two: A Manor Fit for A King 

Henry Courtenay, the Marquess of Exeter was gifted West Horsley Place by his cousin King Henry VIII in 1533, only to be beheaded 5 years later. When Henry VIII confiscated the property in 1538 an inventory was prepared, recording over fifty rooms including a porter’s lodge. The conjectural reconstruction below places this lodge in a range between the south wings, thus creating a courtyard. This range could have been built at any time from 1425 onwards. It may have included a gatehouse given the scale of the Manor House but as there is no proof of this, a simple gable is shown on the conjectural reconstruction.

Much building work was undertaken between 1428 and 1538, bringing the house to its largest size during Henry VIII’s ownership. New buildings include what is now known as the ‘Stone Kitchen’ (shown projecting south of the original kitchen block). This was constructed using some salvaged timbers c.1520, perhaps indicating that other buildings had been demolished to create it. At this time, it was open from the ground to the underside of the rafters. Since the roof is shows no evidence of soot, cooking must have taken place in a fireplace (since rebuilt).  The earlier mediaeval kitchen remained available for use when large retinues were in the house (such as when the King visited).

The 1538 inventory includes rooms that cannot be positively identified in the current building including a hawking tower and chapel. The conjectural layout show here should be regarded as the minimum expanse of the house at this time. 

The north wing no longer stands to the extent shown here but can be seen on a 1735 map which can be viewed at the bottom of the Tudor Stairs. This is thought to have stood until 1823. Although not mentioned in Henry VIII’s inventory, it is possible the north wing was a long Tudor gallery, having previously stood at 87 feet long, the traditional length of this style of gallery.

Click here for part 3 of our What Lies Beneath blogs 

Made possible with National Lottery Heritage Fund logo