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Beaulieu Palace, Boreham

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
New Hall; Convent and School of the Cannonesses of the Holy Sepulchre; Walkfares

In the civil parish of Boreham.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL734103
Latitude 51.76410° Longitude 0.51274°

Beaulieu Palace, Boreham has been described as a certain Palace, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Now the Convent and School of the Cannonesses of the Holy Sepulchre. It is the surviving wing of a great quadrangular palace built by Henry VIII soon after 1518 and called by him Beaulieu. He rebuilt or enlarged an existing house which was already an important building, and made a magnificent building which was one of his favourite residences. Mary Tudor lived here much of the time between 1532 and 1533. In 1573 Elizabeth granted New Hall to Thomas Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex, who made considerable alterations and probably largely rebuilt the north wing which is the present building. In 1622 the Sussex family sold it to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham for £30,000. Cromwell had it for a short time during the Civil war but sold it. In 1660, at the Restoration, it came into the possession of George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, who lived here splendidly. In 1713 his widow sold it to Benjamin Hoare who removed many of the fine fittings for the new house he built - Boreham House. In 1737 it was sold to John Olmins Baron Waltham of Philipstoun. He demolished all but the north wing and remodelled the whole thing into a "gentleman's residence". In 1798 it was bought from his son for the English Community of the Cannonesses of the Holy Sepulchre (the nuns had fled from the English house at Liege) a Roman Catholic Order. In 1943 the building suffered extensive bomb damage, but it has since been exactly restored. There are extensive new additions and alterations. The present building is of red brick and consists of a long range, formerly the north side of the quadrangle, with smaller wings at each end and a small courtyard on the east side with C18 ranges on the east and south. The south front of the long range has 7 half octagonal 2 storeyed bays each with stone mullioned and transomed windows with 24 lights in the upper storey and 16 in the ground storey windows. A parapet with a stone modillion cornice and a moulded stringcourse continues round each bay. In the centre and between the bays there is a small stone pilaster rising from the stringcourse and surmounted by a square pier with a ball finial. The central bay has a Tudor arched doorway in a stone Roman Doric doorcase With plain columns, triglyph frieze with ornamented metope, cornice and a carved coat of arms in a panel framed by pilasters, frieze and cornice. The parapet has a central sundial with a segmental pediment bearing the date 1660. The west half of this long range was severely damaged in 1943 but it has been very carefully restored. The short wing on the west was probably rebuilt in the C18 and much of it has been restored to match the rest of the south front. The east wing has a variety of features dating from the early C16 columns in the basement to the Cl8 wood clock tower on the roof. On the east side facing the courtyard are some fine original windows to each storey including the basement, the upper storey windows have 6 lights. The north side of the long range has been much altered and added to in the C2O, but it still retains the 7 chimney stacks with 2 and 3 octagonal shafts - all are restored and some are rebuilt in facsimile. There are large square bay windows of 3 ranges of lights as on the south front, but the other alterations are extensive. The east courtyard has on the south side a C18 three storeyed range of 6 windows with segmental heads and a modern covered way with a slate roof on the ground storey; the east side has a C18 range of 12 windows, double-hung sashes with glazing bars, in segmental heads. There is a parapet with a small pediment over a gateway with 2 reset C16 arches and a covered way to the ground storey. The north side of this courtyard is a C20 building. The interior has few C16 features apart from the basement of the east wing, but there are many C18 features, especially in the long range which has a central Chapel of the mid C18 and altered again after 1798, it contains the magnificent carved achievement of arms of Henry VIII, formerly over his gatehouse. (Listed Building Report)

The north wing of New Hall is the only surviving part of a great quadrangular Palace built by Henry VIII soon after 1518 called Beaulieu. He re-built or enlarged an existing house which was already an important building and made it a magnificent residence. In 1737 John Olmins demolished all but the north and adjoining parts of the east and west wings and remodelled the whole thing into "a gentleman's residence". The Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre acquired it in 1798 and it still remains their convent and school today. It was extensively damaged in 1943 and has had alterations and additions. What exists today is chiefly the splendid south facade of the north wing of the 1573 house (Pevsner; RCHME; Listed Building Report).
The present building is of red brick and consists of a long range, formerly the north side of the quadrangle, with smaller wings at each end and a small courtyard on the east side with 18th century ranges on the east and south. The south front of the long range has 7 half octagonal 2 storeyed bays each with stone mullioned and transomed windows with 24 lights in the upper storey and 16 in the ground storey windows. A parapet with a stone modillion cornice and a moulded stringcourse continues round each bay. In the centre and between the bays there is a small stone pilaster rising from the stringcourse and surmounted by a square pier with a ball finial. The central bay has a Tudor arched doorway in a stone Roman Doric doorcase with plain columns, triglyph frieze with ornamented metope, cornice and a carved coat of arms in a panel framed by pilasters, frieze and cornice. For full details, please see the listed building description (Listed Building Report).
The remains of the 16th century mansion of Beaulieu (now called New Hall, a convent school). The remaining south facade of the north wing, partly restored in style after 1945 bomb damage, is outstanding. No architectural features of the original chapel are visible, though the probable site lay on the west side of the north wing (F1 PAS 21.11.75).
TL 73351035. Excavations for a new classroom block at New Hall Convent School revealed an octagonal brick-built subterranean cistern which acted as a water supply point for the Henrician palace. Externally the cistern was square with an octagonal man-hole chamber on the NW corner, and a circular well with a surviving bored tree-truck pipe for a pump at surface level at the NE corner (Egan 1983).
Henry VIII purchased New Hall from Sir Thomas Boleyn in 1516, and the resulting palace was one of Henry's largest works. In 1521, #16000 was advanced for the construction programme, and the total cost of the work was circa #17000. Henry renamed the manor house Beaulieu. In 1737-64, much of the house was demolished to make it a more manageable property. Little now remains of the original house. The only surviving fabric consists of the lower part of the wall at the east end of the house and a carved stone panel.
The name 'Beaulieu Palace' was never really used as its common name and was rarely used after Henry's death. In 1573 Elizabeth I granted the house to Thomas Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex. Between 1737 and 1764, the owner, Lord Waltham, ordered the demolition of much of the house, including the hall and chapel as it was simply too large for the owner (HKW).
In 1523 John Ryman a garden was laid out at New Hall which in 1530 was referred to as the 'great garden of Beaulie' . For a more detailed description of the gardens at New Hall see its description in the Parks and Gardens register (English Heritage Register of parks and gardens).
An earlier incarnation of the building was home to Thomas, earl of Ormonde, who had been granted a licence to crenellate in 1491 (Emery 2000).
Beaulieu Palace was the first palace Henry VIII ever built. A month before the birth of his first child, Princess Mary, Henry ordered that construction begin on the palace. This was in 1516, just seven years into his reign.
In 2009 a three day archaeological excavation carried out by Time Team, what is considered to have been Princess Mary's nursery wing was uncovered, as well as a section of the gatehouse. From the archaeological evidence, the gatehouse appears to have been an imposing structure and would have made an impressive impact. (TimeTeam)
This is an evaluation comprising geophysical survey and trial trenching revealed structural evidence for Beaulieu Palace, including the Gatehouse, 'Nursery Floor' and Chapel. This report was produced as part of Time Team's excavations (GSB/2008/Geophysical survey report: Beaulieu Place, Chelmsford, Time Team, 2008). (PastScape)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1491 Nov 8 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

Licence to crenellate granted to Thomas, earl of Ormonde in 1491 for the house then called Walkfares. The form of Thomas house can only be guessed at as the work by Henry VIII was extensive but a moated courtyard house is likely.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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