Woodstock Manor, c. 1714.

Woodstock Manor

Woodstock Manor was one of the manor houses of the English royalty until the eighteenth century, situated in the town of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.

The Domesday Book of William the Conqueror described Woodstock (Wodestok, Wodestou) as a royal forest. It was a royal residence early; tradition has Ethelred keeping council there, and Henry I was said to have kept a menagerie of foreign animals there. It was at Woodstock that Henry II courted Rosamund Clifford. Woodstock park contained "Fair Rosamund's Well," near which her residence, "Rosamund's Bower" stood. Tradition has it that Eleanor of Aquitaine discovered the affair and poisoned Rosamund. In the Hundred Rolls of 1279, the town Woodstock was described as a "Vill," but by 1302 it was sending members to the parliament as a borough. The town was incorporated a free borough in 1453 by Henry VI; the charter was confirmed by Henry VII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth.

The Gatehouse at Woodstock Manor is also where Queen Elizabeth I, then Princess Elizabeth, was confined during her sister Mary's reign, in 1554, when she was under suspicion of colluding with traitors, under guard of 100 men. The buildings were already in bad shape then, cold, wet, and filthy. Elizabeth was as much in danger of catching and dying from pneumonia as she was of being charged with treason. According to contemporary sources, including Holinshed, Elizabeth engraved the following verse with a diamond on a window in the Gatehouse:

Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be,
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner.

She is also reported to have written lines now known as verses on a wall at Woodstock, although Hentzner's 1598 account speaks of lines written with charcoal on the shutters of her room1. Despite her inauspicious beginning at Woodstock, the manor house was one of Elizabeth's favored residences once queen.

During the English Civil War, Woodstock house was besieged, and much damage was done to its already dilapidated state. Its next owners, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, ordered even the ruins dismantled, so as not to be an eyesore from their new pleasure-palace. In 1714, this was effected, and Woodstock Manor was no more. Today, a small stone monument marks the place where Woodstock manor once stood.

1. Hentzner, Paul. A Journey Into England, (1598). Horace Walpole, ed. 1757.
Fugitive Pieces on Various Subjects. Vol II. Robert Dodsley, ed.
London: J. Dodsley, 1771. 258.

Books for further study:

Henderson, Paula. The Tudor House and Garden: Architecture and Landscape
           in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries.
           New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Thurley, Simon. The Royal Palaces of Tudor England:
           Architecture and Court Life, 1460-1547.
           Paul Mellon Center, 1993.

Woodstock Manor on the Web:

Article Citation:

Jokinen, Anniina. “Woodstock Manor.” Luminarium.
                4 Dec. 2006. [Date when you accessed the page].

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on December 4, 2006.

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