Thame Local History
The Tudor Palace at Rycote - Who Built It?

It seems a litle strange that history does not record who built such a grand and important palace as Rycote.

It has been dated stylistically as between 1500 and 1530. The key thing regarding who built it is whether or not it was built before of after the year 1521, when Richard Fowler the younger, the reputed spendthrift, sold the estate to Sir John Heron, Treasurer of the Royal Household.

In the Time Team programme, archivist Robin Bush concluded that since Sir John Heron apparently never lived on his Rycote estate it must have been Richard Fowler the younger who built Rycote Palace, before 1521, effectively bankrupting himself in the process.

Brown and Guest, in their History of Thame, disagree and say :

"The house then sold appears from prints of the late seventeenth century to have been a quadrangular structure of brick and stone, with turrets at the four corners, its style dating it about 1525; it was thus probably the work of the Herons, replacing the earlier thirteenth-century stone house of the Quartermains. Tradition says that it contained 365 windows."

There is no conclusive proof either way. We should also consider the implications of the fact that a previous house of substantial construction was demolished on the site.

There may be some value in looking at any possible design similarities between Rycote Palace and the original version of Hampton Court Palace, built by Cardinal Wolsey between 1515 and 1521.

Feedback would be very welcome on this question.

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