The site of Theobalds palace lies a little to the north of the
road to Ware at the distance of twelve miles from London, in
the parish of Cheshunt, which village is beyond the limits prescribed
for this work.
Manor of Cullynges, Tongs, Thebaudes, or Theobalds.
The manor of Theobalds was originally called Cullynges, afterwards Tongs, and since the year 1440 Thebaudes, Tibbolds, or
In the year 1385 William Attemore of Cheshunt, being indebted to William de Tongge in the sum of 101l. it appears that
the Manor of Cullynges in that parish, and an estate called
Le Mores, both the property of William Attemore, were made
over to Tongge, who thus became proprietor, and for some time
gave name to this manor (fn. 1) . The estate then consisted of a capital
messuage, 76 acres of arable, 91 of pasture, 10 of meadow, and 5½
of wood (fn. 2) . In the year 1441, the manor of Thebaudes, being then
vested in the crown, was granted to John Carpenter, master of
St. Anthony's Hospital in London, John Somerset, Chancellor
of the Exchequer, and John Carpenter, jun. to be held of the
crown by the annual render of a bow valued at 2s. and a barbed
arrow, value 3d. (fn. 3) The same year there was a grant of divers
privileges and exemptions to the above persons and their successors
in the manor of Thebaudes (fn. 4) . After this I find nothing relating
to it, till it was the property of William Lord Burleigh; whose
son, the first Earl of Salisbury, gave it to James the First in
exchange for other lands (fn. 5) . King Charles the Second, in the year
1661, granted it to George Duke of Albemarle (fn. 6) . On the death
of Christopher, the second duke, without heirs male, in 1687,
it is probable that it reverted to the crown with the park and
house at Theobalds (fn. 7) , and that it was granted to Ralph Duke of
Montagu, who married the Duke of Albemarle's widow. It is
certain, that John Duke of Montagu sold it in 1736 to Mrs. Letitia
Thornhill (fn. 8) ; from whom it passed, by marriage, into the family of
Cromwell (fn. 9) . It is now, under the wills of Eliza and Letitia, daughters of Richard Cromwell, Esq. (who both died unmarried), the
property of Oliver Cromwell, Esq. of Gray's Inn, the only male
descendant of his celebrated namesake.
When the manor of Theobalds was surveyed by order of parliament, in 1650, the manerial profits were valued at 12l. 2s. 4d.
the rent of the lands was 275l. 7s. per annum; the improvements
were estimated at 152l. 14s. 7d. per annum (fn. 10) .
Old site of the manor.
Building of Theobalds house.
Queen Elizabeth's visits.
Lord Burleigh's housekeeping at Theobalds.
King James entertained by the Earl of Salisbury.
Christian IV. King of Denmark.
Theobalds given to King James in exchange.
Theobalds palace valued and pulled down.
The original site of this manor was a small moated house, the
traces of which are still visible in Sir George Prescott's park (fn. 11) .
Sir William Cecil (afterwards Lord Burleigh) began, about the year
1560, to build upon a new site, what, it is said, he at first intended
for a small mansion, to be the residence of his younger son (fn. 12) . On
the 27th of July 1564, Queen Elizabeth first honoured him with a
visit at Theobalds. It is probable that she then expressed an intention of repeating her visit, which induced her minister to enlarge his
house for her better accommodation; and that it was completed upon
a more enlarged scale before the 22d of September 1571, when the
Queen visited him again, and was presented with a copy of verses,
and a portrait of the house. Her visits were repeated in 1572, 1575,
1577, 1583, 1587, 1591, 1593, 1594 (fn. 13) , and 1596. In 1583, she
came with a large retinue, and staid four days; the Earls of Leicester and Warwick, the Lord Admiral, Lord Howard, Lord Hunsdon,
Sir Christopher Hatton, and Sir Francis Walsingham were then with
her. In Murdin's State-Papers is the copy of a manuscript in Lord
Burleigh's own writing, specifying the rooms in which the several
persons belonging to her court were to be accommodated. In 1593,
her Majesty's stay at Theobalds was prolonged to nine days. Each
of these visits is said to have cost the Lord Treasurer from 2000 to
3000l. "The Queen lay there, at his Lordship's charge, sometymes
three weeks, or a month together" (says the writer of his life
(fn. 14) ). "Her Majesty sometymes had also straungers and ambassadors
came to her at Theobalds; where she hath byn sene in as great
royalty, and served as bountifully and magnificently, as at anie
other tyme or place, all at his Lordship's chardg: with rich shows,
pleasant devices, and all manner of sports that cold be devised, to
the greate delight of her Majesty, and her whole traine; with greate
thanks from all who partook of it, and as greate comendation from
all that heard of it abroad." The usual expence of his housekeeping
at Theobalds was 80l. per week. His stables cost him a thousand
marks (666l. 13s. 4d.) per annum. The sum of 10l. a week was
allotted to setting the poor to work in his garden; and 20s. a week
was distributed by the vicar of Cheshunt, as his almoner (fn. 15) . Lord
Burleigh was succeeded at Theobalds by his son Robert, afterwards
created Earl of Salisbury, who, like his father, proved one of the
ablest statesmen of his time. On the 3d of May 1603, he entertained King James the First on his way from Scotland, when he
came to take possession of the crown of this kingdom. Here the
Lords of the Council paid their homage; the king appointed several
new members, both of the English and the Scotch nobility, and made
twenty-eight knights. "His Majesty," says Stow, "staid four
days, with entertainment such and so costly as hardly can be
expressed, considering the multitudes that thither resorted, besides
the train; none going thence unsatisfied (fn. 16) ." In 1606, the earl
gave a second entertainment to King James and to Christian the
fourth, King of Denmark, who staid with him four days (fn. 17) . Soon
afterwards, to oblige his royal Master, who was much pleased with
the situation of Theobalds, he gave him the house, manor, and park,
in exchange for the palace and manor of Hatfield. Theobalds
became a favourite residence of King James, who frequently retired
thither, particularly in the latter part of his reign. He drew his last
breath in this palace, on the 27th of March 1625. King Charles
resided occasionally at Theobalds. There the petition from both
houses of parliament was presented to him, in February 1642; and
thence he went immediately afterwards to put himself at the head of
his army (fn. 18) . When the sale of crown lands was in agitation in
1649 (fn. 19) , it was at first resolved, that Theobalds should be excepted,
but it was afterwards determined that it should be sold. In the year
1650, the commissioners who were appointed by parliament to make
a survey of Theobalds palace reported, that it was an excellent
building, in very good repair, by no means fit to be demolished;
and that it was worth 200l. per annum, exclusive of the park; yet,
left the parliament should think proper to have it taken down, they
had estimated the materials, and found them to be worth 8275l. 11s.
Notwithstanding this report, the greater part of the palace was taken
down to the ground, and the money arising from the sale of the materials divided among the army.
Description of the palace, from the survey taken in 1650.
The survey above mentioned (fn. 20) contains a very minute and accurate description of Theobalds palace. It consisted of two principal
quadrangles, besides the dial court, the buttery court, and the dovehouse court, in which the offices were situated.
The fountain court.
The leaded walk.
The fountain court, so called from a fountain (fn. 22) of black and white
marble in the centre, was a quadrangle of 86 feet square; on the east
side of which was a cloister, eight feet wide, with seven arches. On
the ground-floor of this quadrangle was a spacious hall, paved with
Purbeck marble; the roof "arched over at the top with carved timber
of curious workmanship, and of great worth, being a goodlie ornament to the same;" at the upper end was "a very large picture of
the bignesse of a paire of stagges hornes seene in France." On the
same floor were the Lord of Holland's, the Marquis of Hamilton's,
and the Lord of Salisbury's (fn. 23) lodging-rooms (fn. 24) ; the council-chamber,
and the chamber for the king's waiters. On the second floor was
the presence-chamber, "wainscotted with carved wainscot of good
oak, painted of a liver colour, and richly gilded with antick
pictures over the same; the seelinge full of gilded pendants hanginge downe, settinge forth the roome with greate splendor; as alsoe
with verie large windowes, and several coates of armes sett in the
same." These windows opened south on the walk in the great
garden leading to the green gates going into the park; where was
an avenue, of a mile long, between a double row of trees. On the
same floor were also the privy-chamber, the withdrawing-chamber,
the king's bed-chamber, and a gallery 123 feet by 21, "wainscotted
with oak, and paintinges over the same of divers cities, rarely
painted, and sett forth with a frett seelinge, with divers pendents,
roses, and flower de luces, painted and gilded with gold; alsoe
divers large stagges heades (fn. 25) sett round the same, and fastened to
the sayd roome, which are an excellent ornament to the same."
The windows of this gallery looked "north into the park, and so to
Cheshunt." On an upper floor were the Lord Chamberlain's
lodgings, my Lord's withdrawing-chamber, and several other apartments. Near the Chamberlain's lodgings on the east was a leaded
walk, 62 feet in length, and 11 in breadth, with an arch of freestone
over it; "which said arch and walk," says the survey, "looking
eastward into the middle court, and into the highway leading from
London to Ware, standeth high, and may easily be discerned by
passengers and travellers, to their delight." On the west of the
Lord Chamberlain's lodgings was another walk of the same dimensions, looking westward into the fountain court. At each corner of
these walks stood "fower high, faire, and large towers, covered with
blue state, with a lyon and vaines on the top of each; and in the
walk over the hall, in the midst of the fower corners, one faire
and large turrett, in the fashion of a lanthorne, made with
timber of excellent workmanship curiouslie wrought, standinge
a great height, with divers pinacles at each corner, wherein hangeth twelve bells for chiminge, and a clocke with chimes of sundrie
worke." The walk from the lower gate up to the middle of the
fountain court is described as leading "through the severall courtes,
so that the figure of Cupid and Venus maye easily be seene from
the highway, when the gates are open." This walk, says the survey, "is so delightful and pleasant facing the middle of the house,
and the severall towers, turretts, windowes, chimneyes, walkes,
and balconies, that the like walke for length, pleasantness, and
delight is rare to be seene in England (fn. 26) ."
The middle court was a quadrangle of 110 feet square; on the
south of which were the Queen's chapel (with windows of stained
glass), her presence-chamber, privy-chamber, bed-chamber, and cofferchamber. The Prince's lodgings were on the north side; on the
east side was a cloister, over which was the green gallery, 109 feet
by 12, "excellently well painted round with the severall shires in
England, and the armes of the noblemen and gentlemen in the
same." Over this gallery was a leaded walk, (looking eastward
towards the dial court and the highway,) on which were "two
lostie arches of bricke, of no small ornament to the house, and
rendering it comely and pleasant to all that passed by." On the
west side of the quadrangle was another cloister (on five arches); over
which were the Duke's lodgings, and over them the Queen's gallery,
109 seet by 14.
On the south side of the house stood "a large open cloister, built
upon severall large faire pillars of stone, arched over with seven
arches, with a faire rayle and balisters, well painted with the
Kinges and Queenes of England, and the pedigree of the old
Ld Burleigh, and divers other antient families (fn. 27) ; with paintings of
many castles and battailes, with divers subscriptions on the walls."
This cloister was standing so lately as 1765. The whole house was
built, as the survey states, of excellent brick, with coins, jambs, and
cornices of stone. I have not been able to find any print or painting which conveys any adequate idea of this palace. There is
a scarce print of it by Stent, upon a small scale, which seems
to be a very imperfect representation. The view in the tapestry
at Houghton, which was supposed to be Theobalds, and is engraved
in Gough's edition of Camden, does not agree with the description
in the survey. At Hinton St. George (the seat of Earl Poulet)
there is an inside view of Theobalds, by Polenberg (fn. 28) .
The gardens at Theobalds were large, and ornamented with labyrinths, canals, and fountains (fn. 29) . The great garden contained seven
acres of ground; besides which there was the pheasant garden, privy
garden, and laundry garden. In the former were "nine knotts, artificially and exquisitely made; one of which was sett forth in
likenesse of the kinge's armes." The fruit and other trees (fn. 30) , the
materials of the banquetting house, walls, &c. were valued all
together at 590l. 1s.
The alms house.
Lord Barrington born at Theobalds.
The stables, which are included in the survey of the manor, stood
near the road leading from Waltham Cross to Cheshunt. On the
west side of the road was the camel stable, 63 feet in length; on
the east side were two stables, each 119 feet, and a barn 163 feet in
length. These were valued all together at 290l. for the materials,
being then much out of repair. Adjoining to the stables was a large
building called the Alms-house, built, it is probable, by Lord Burleigh, and appropriated as a residence for some of his pensioners;
it had a hall and chapel. This building is still standing, and divided
into tenements for poor people. The arms of Cecil are on the
front. Some parts of Theobalds palace appear to have been left
standing, and inhabited after its dismantlement in 1650. One of the
chapels (fn. 31) was kept up, and used by the Presbyterians, as lately as
1689, when the site of Theobalds was granted to the Earl of
Portland. It was in some remaining part of the old palace, it is
probable, that the first Lord Barrington was born, in 1678 (fn. 32) . Every
vestige of the palace was destroyed in 1765, when the houses which
now form Theobalds-square were erected.
When King James got possession of Theobalds, he enlarged the
park, by taking in part of Enfield Chase, and of Northaw and
Cheshunt commons, and surrounded it with a brick wall, ten
miles in circumference (fn. 33) . When the survey was taken in 1650,
Theobalds park contained 2508 acres (fn. 34) , valued (together with six
lodges, one of which was in the occupation of Col. Cecil,) at
1545l. 15s. 4d. per annum. The deer were valued at 1000l.; the
rabbits at 15l.; the timber at 7259l. 13s. 2d. exclusive of 15,608
trees (fn. 35) marked for the use of the navy, and others already cut
down for that purpose. The materials of the barns and wall were
valued at 1570l. 16s. 3d.
Death of Henry Lord Falkland.
Grants of Theobalds park.
In the year 1633, Henry Cary Lord Falkland lost his life by an
accident in Theobalds park (fn. 36) . After the restoration of Charles
the Second, the Duke of Albemarle obtained a grant (fn. 37) of the site
of Theobalds house, the park, and the manor; which all escheated
to the crown by the death of Christopher, the second duke, without
male issue. King William, in the year 1689, granted Theobalds
palace and park to William Earl of Portland (fn. 38) ; from him this estate
descended to the present Duke; who, about the year 1762, sold it
to the late George Prescott, Esq. The old park had long been
converted into farms. The present park, which contains 205 acres,
was inclosed by Mr. Prescott, who built a handsome brick mansion
on a rising ground, about a mile to the north-west of the site of
Theobalds palace, and at a short distance from the New River,
which runs through the park. Theobalds park is now the property
and residence of Sir George William Prescott, Bart.