Monument record NKT 051 - 17th century Palace Stables, Newmarket

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Location of the 17th century palace stables, constructed in 1671 by Charles II and remodelled in 19th century, foundations of walls and floor revealed during excavation conforming to the 1740s plan of the compled.


Grid reference Centred TL 644 633 (40m by 37m)
Map sheet TL66SW


Type and Period (10)

Full Description

2011: Geophysical survey was carried out on the site of the main stable block, however modern services have distorted the effectiveness of the ground penetrating radar. However, an L-shaped wall line was identified and can be attributable to the original palace stables. A sub-circular anomaly was part of the stable complex that survived through to the early edition Ordnance Survey mapping (S1).

2011: Evaluation and assessment by Time Team who investigated King Charles II's Royal Palace and racing stables. The current Palace House Mansion and entrance steps are Grade II* listed (See NKT 005) and the Palace House Stables are Grade II (see NKT 035). The original Palace was thought the have been constructed in 1671 by Charles II, although James I appears to have built a Palace within the near vicinity in 1608 (the exact location is now lost), and a second residence in 1614. Time Team's excavations found evidence of at least two phases of stables associated with the 17th century Palace House Mansion. The earliest phase largely conformed to the 1740s plan of the complex, apart from a large internal clunch-built, load-bearing wall, possibly mirrored by a geophysical anomaly on the opposite side of the building. What was uncovered comprised part of the frontage wall, including the entrance; the 'spine' wall which divided the stable block into two; the entrance passage leading to the stairwell; and what appears to have been an 'extra' foundation wall which was part of the original build, but which was never built upon. The frontage wall, facing the stable-yard had a foundation of roughly square-cut clunch blocks, its importance as the from wall was shown by its brick facing. The central wall of the stables was also clunch-built and formed the 'spine' on to which the two rows of individual stalls would have backed, although the stalls themselves were not revealed. Two narrow red brick walls formed the main entrance corridor to the stable block, running across the block to the central wall, with a room on either side, each containing stalls set against the central wall. Two areas of floor comprise a single layer of unfrogged bricks. These brick surfaces corresponded to the area of the stairwell shown on the 1740s plan which would have led to an upper chamber with a window overlooking the stable yard. Beneath the stable block was an occupation deposit that contained two sherds of medieval pottery (13th/14th century).

The stables were later renovated internally by the addition of a further internal clunch wall and a resurfacing of the stable floor, possibly within the 19th century. Possibly associated with this phase of remodelling was a brick-built drain. A later addition to the stables was a series of brick pads to the north-east of the spinal wally, but their function is uncertain. The excavations uncovered a yellow brick floor, within the floor area, individual stalls were denoted by lines of red bricks. A poorly built clunch wall truncated the earliest phase of the stables. The remodelling respected the original building alignments and suggests that parts at least of the original stable were still in use in its later phase and that the original main entrance was still in use. The second construction phase can probably be linked to the remodelling of the stables in the mid 19th century by Baron de Rothschild. The remodelled stables seem only to have functioned for a short period. By 1886 the stables had been partially demolished and adapted for use as the Trainer's House (NKT 035) which incorporated the existing northern wall of the stables and some of its architectural features, including the voussoir windows (S2).

2013: Geophysical survey using ground penetrating radar recorded elements of the former Charles II stable block, with some of these correlating well with Thomas Fort's plan of 1760. However the survey also revealed a foundation abutting what would have been the south wall of the royal stable block, assumed to be contemporary with this, and the footings of the spine wall of the present 'Trainer's House'. This wall line does not match the 1760 plan therefore either the stable had been altered by the time this plan was drawn or that the stable was in part reusing remnants of an earlier structure. A discrete zone of disturbance in the sout-wst of the courtyard may relate to a former stable building pre-dating the Charles II structure (S3).

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Adcock, J. and Wood, E.. 2011. Geophysical Survey Report, Newmarket, Suffolk.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Wessex Archaeology. 2013. Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results 2011, National Horse Racing Museum, Newmarket.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Adcock, J.. 2013. Geophysical Survey Report, Palace House Stables, Newmarket.

Finds (21)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Apr 12 2018 2:57PM

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