Back to other locations
Richmond Palace was a Thameside royal residence on the south bank of the river. It was upstream of York Place (later the Palace of Westminster), to which it lay 9 miles (14 km) SW of as the crow flies. It was erected c. 1501 within the royal manor of Sheen, by Henry VII of England, (formerly known by his title Earl of Richmond), after which it was named. It was occupied by royalty until 1649.
The plan of the palace is known from Wyngaerde's drawings and other documentary evidence and included a great court and a large royal apartment block next to the river Thames. A privy garden and orchard were enclosed by the palace's walls.
All that remains of Henry VII's Tudor palace is the main palace gateway and the old courtyard, which is now known as 'Old Palace Yard'. The arms of Henry VII have been restored and have been repositioned above the gateway arch.
Richmond Palace as it looked during Anne’s time.
A model of Richmond Palace.
Which key events feature Richmond Palace in the book?
It is at Richmond Palace that Anne first encounters Cardinal Wolsey, who has just returned from an embassy to France. After being insulted by the cardinal, she complains bitterly to Henry of his treatment of her. When Wolsey’s man is subsequently received by the King and requests an audience for his master, Anne famously replies that ‘where should the cardinal come but where the King is?’ We see Wolsey, perhaps for the first time, seriously back-footed by a young woman to whom he had previously paid little regard; and henceforth the battle lines are drawn between them. Only one victor can emerge.
The real events in history:
The scene between the King, Anne and Wolsey did take place at Richmond Palace, probably in the King’s Privy Apartments and as described in the novel.
Where to go / what to see / where to stand:
The floor plan of Richmond Palace superimposed on a modern day satellite picture. Photo courtesy of Mike Glaeser
You can still see the old Gatehouse of Richmond Palace. Passing through it enter ‘Old Palace Yard’ which was once the great ‘Outer Court’ of the palace. To your left stands the original ‘Wardrobe’ building. In front of you and slightly to the left, imagine another gatehouse heralding the entrance through into the Inner Court, with the Chapel standing on the left and the Great Hall on the right. Then beyond that, in what are now gardens, the great donjon, which housed the royal apartments, towers up close to the bank of the Thames. Somewhere in that building, Anne most probably had her showdown with Wolsey. For the first time, the Cardinal must have begun to realise that he had seriously misjudged the situation and entirely under-estimated Anne’s relationship with Henry.
Check the weather at your destination: