The name Oatlands comes from the owners of the land, who in the thirteenth century was Robert dc Ottelond and probably refers to the crop of oats grown in the area.
Henry VIII purchased Hampton Court from Cardinal Wolsey, who then built a palace in Esher on land he had acquired. Henry created a vast hunting estate that stretched from Weybridge to Coulsdon and built two additional palaces at Oatlands and Nonsuch, near Ewell. He needed all these palaces to house his retinue of servants. courtiers and government officials plus various visiting dignitaries with their staff.
Work started on Oatlands in June 1537 by expanding the large house formerly owned by the Rede family. It was near the river in Weybridge and meant Henry could travel by barge from London and Hampton Court, an important factor when roads were so poor and almost impassable in winter.
Much of the building material came from dissolved abbeys at Merton, Bisham and Chertsey, where bricks and stonework were removed to build the foundations. Most of the sources of materials were on a river to facilitate transport by water to Oatlands.
Brick kilns were set up to produce the familiar rose red Tudor bricks which were consumed in their thousands to build the palace that eventually covered 14 acres and stood in a park of 538 acres. The final buildings were somewhat similar to Hampton Court.
Although he used it early in his reign, Henry rarely visited when older and in fact it was not even complete when he died in 1548.
Edward VI and Queen Mary stayed there in 1548 and Elizabeth I visited many times during her reign using it as a resting place from the affairs of state. She was accompanied by her ablest statesmen and being a keen huntswoman hunted deer in the park.
James I also used Oatlands and bred pheasants on the estate, also planting rare trees and breeding silk worms. His queen, Anne of Denmark, made numerous alterations to the palace employing Inigo Jones to design the Great Gate, and entertained many of her guests there. Charles I’s third son was born at Oatlands in 1640.
After Charles’ execution in 1649 Cromwell ordered the sale of much of the crown’s property, including the contents of Oatlands Palace, the value of the estate being about £4000. It was bought by a Robert Turbridge, who demolished it, and from 1651 the bricks were sold to Sir Richard Weston of Sutton Place near Guildford to build locks and bridges on the new River Wey canal. Nonsuch and Richmond palaces were also sold and demolished to pay off Parliament’s debts.
Nothing remains of Oatlands palace today except the Tudor gateway in Palace Gardens, Weybridge and the bricks in the locks on the Wey navigation canal, which is owned by the National Trust.