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WAYNEFLETES TOWER

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  WOLSEYS TOWER, WAYNFLETES TOWER, ESHER PALACE
DESCRIPTION + /

Wayneflete's Tower is the only surviving remains of the late 15th century Bishops palace and later Royal Palace of Esher. The site has been occupied since the 11th century and Bishop Wayneflete's palace was built on the site of an earlier medieval manor house. The palace was built around 1465-80, and was taken over by Cardinal Wolsey in 1529, who carried out various alterations. After his downfall, Henry VIII took possession of the palace in 1530 and it became one of his royal residences. The palace was used by Henry VIII and by Edward VI but during the reign of Queen Mary it was returned to the see of Winchester. Various alterations were subsequently made to the building, however in 1678, the whole building, apart from the tower, was demolished. The tower was the palace's gatehouse and is the only early structure that has survived. In 1729 William Kent built, for the statesman Henry Pelham, a new mansion on the site which incorporated the tower. Today (2009) the tower is a privately owned house.

Wayneflete's Tower or gatehouse is three stories high with four-storeyed turrets. It is built of brick with stone dressings to the battlements and window surrounds. The tower contained a central vaulted hall with a heated room on the south side and a stair turret and a possible porter's lodge on the north. The central hall probably rose up through the first and second floors of the central and south bays of the building. Recent excavations by The Time Team have identified the layout of Wayneflete's original palace which included a curtain wall, a great hall, associated buildings such as kitchens and a large castle-like keep with octagonal corner turrets.
The 1730s alterations to the surviving gatehouse by William Kent included the addition of three-storey wings either side of the gatehouse, however these were demolished in the early 19th century. His internal alterations in the gatehouse are early examples of the Rococo-Gothic style.

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