The Legacy of Henry VIII


When you think of infamous English monarchs who is the first to come to mind? Henry VIII?

King Henry VIII is popularly known for marrying six times and executing two of his wives, as well as his famous split from Rome. It might surprise you to learn that Henry VIII was considered one of the most prolific builders of the English monarchs. He also helped to increase the size of the English Navy with ships like: Henry Grace a Dieu,The Mary Rose, The Peter and many more.

In this article we’ll provide a list of castles and palaces that Henry VIII built. Included are some some that he made significant additionsto. As an example, Hampton Court Palace – it was Cardinal Wolsey’s property before him but Henry made substantial additions to it to make it suitable to house nearly 1,000 court members.

This list may be missing some — if you see something missing, please comment below and I will add them.

Below are the palaces or castles that Henry VIII built from the earth up — or that he built major additions to making them part of his Tudor legacy (in no particular order):

Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle, located in Falmouth, Cornwall, Englandwas built by King Henry VIII between 1539 and 1545 to guard and defend from the perceived French and Spanish threat. During the time that Pendennis Castle was being built Henry VIII married and divorced Anne of Cleves (1540), married and beheaded Katherine Howard (1540-1541) and married Catherine Parr (1543). He was a busy guy with building AND wives.

Image Courtesy: Google Maps

St. James Palace

St. James Palace

St. James Palace was constructed between 1531 and 1536 and was secondary in Henry’s interest to Whitehall Palace. It was a smaller residence to help escape formal court life.

Mainly built withred-brick, the palace’s architecture is primarily in theTudorstyle.The most recognizable feature is north gatehouse;It is decorated with the initials H.A. for Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

St. James Palace was remodeled in 1544 (some time after Henry VIII married Catherine Parr) and the ceilings were painted by Hans Holbein; St. James was described as a “pleasant royal house.”[1]

Henry’s son, Henry FitzRoy, died at St. James Palace as did his daughter Queen Mary I. It is said that his other daughter Queen Elizabeth I spent the night in St. James Palace while awaiting the Spanish Armada.

St James Palace
Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Oatlands Palace

Oatlands Palace

In 1538, Henry VIII acquired Oatlands and rebuilt it for Anne of Cleves. In 1540 he married his fifth wife, Katherine Howard there.

Oatlands Palace is where Queen Mary I retreated after her phantom pregnancy. It is when she moved from Hampton Court (which housed the nursery and nursery staff) that her subjects knew there would be no child.

Little remains of Oatlands Palace, near Weybridge in Surrey, where Henry VIII loved to go hunting.

outlands palace
Site of Oatlands Palace, Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Nonsuch Palace

Nonsuch Palace

The birth of Henry VIII’s legitimate son, Prince Edward, led directly to the destruction of the manor of Cuddington. To celebrate both the securing of the succession and the arrival of the 30th year of his reign, Henry decided to build a palace which would have no equal – hence the name, Nonsuch. None such palace would compare. It was said to be quite beautiful, and honestly like nothing England had seen before.

Building for Nonsuch began in 1538. It was the greatest of Henry VIII’s building enterprises – it took nine years to build and was completed at a cost of at least 24,000, a phenomenal amount for that time.Henry died before the palace was completed.

Site of Nonsuch Palace, Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Whitehall Palace

Whitehall Palace

In the 15th century, the Archbishops of York built as their London base a palace named York Place, which stood on the site of Inigo Jones’ Banqueting House. When Cardinal Wolsey became Archbishop of York in 1514, he extended the palace, which, like Hampton Court, another of Wolsey’s splendid residences, attracted the covetous eye of Henry VIII. In the late 1520’s his reputation failing and desperately trying to retain the King’s favour, Wolsey gave York Place to Henry. Renamed Whitehall Palace it became Henry VIII’s principal royal residence.” – Quoted from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain

Henry VIII further improved the building to his liking by adding a Privy Gallery, a bowling alley, a tilt yard, a cockpit and real tennis courts. Hans Holbeinpainted many of the ceilings as well.

As per the book, London, Volume 1 (Page 339, Edited by Charles Knight), Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII were married at Whitehall Palace on 25 January 1533.

whitehall palace
Site of Whitehall Palace in London, Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Beaulieu Palace

Beaulieu 1580
Beaulieu Palace

Beaulieu Palace was the first palace Henry VIII built as King of England. In 1516, just a month before the birth of his daughter Mary, Henry ordered construction to begin.

Beaulieu Palace was a favorite for Queen Mary I – her father, Henry VIII granted Mary the palace in his will. Beaulieu Palace is also where Mary I declared (before the sacrament) that she would marry Philip.

Beaulieu Palace
Site of Beaulieu Palace, Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace, from the beginning, was not built by Henry VIII – Henry received it from Wolsey in 1528. Once Henry owned Hampton Court Palace he began expanding to house his large court. He might as well have built it because the additions were major -Henry VIII spent 62,000 (approximately 18 million today) on Hampton Court in just ten years!

Hampton Court
Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Deal Castle

“Henry Vlll built the low-lyingartilleryfort of Deal Castle, in Kent, as one of a string of coastal fortifications built aroundEngland’s south coast in the later 1530s and early 1540s. Following his break with the Church of Rome, he feared invasion by the armies of a Franco-Spanish Catholic alliance brokered by the Pope.” -The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.360)

In 18 months, Henry built three forts – one at Sandown, one at Deal and one at Walmer to cover that part of the English coast. They were built using press-ganged labor and stone from local religious houses that were suppressed by Henry’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Notice how from above Deal Castle looks like the Tudor Rose. Henry VIII was in his late 40’s when he build these forts. Anne of Cleves is said to have stayed at Deal Castle after her long voyage from Europe on her way to London to meet her future husband.

Image Courtesy: Google Maps

Sandsfoot Castle

Completed in 1539, Sandsfoot Castle, historically as Weymouth Castlewas built by Henry VIII ’to provide in conjunction with Portland Castle a defence for shipping in the safe anchorage of Portland Roads (Portland Harbour)’. -

This castle had two storeys plus a basement. It was built to protect against invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain, by Charles Phillips
Video: Time Team Special 40 (2009) – Henry VIII’s Lost Palaces
London, Volume 1 (Page 339, Edited by Charles Knight)

Social media no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,728 subscribers.

Anne Boleyn Anne of Cleves Attractions Catherine Parr Elizabeth l Henry VIII History House of Tudor Jane Seymour Katherine Howard Katherine of Aragon Mary l

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. This was so interesting!! I knew about some of the castles and some I had no idea about! Thank you for such an interesting read!

  2. ~ Thank you for sharing. King Henry XIII was quite a character. Daughter, Queen Mary, was somewhat of a character in her own right. Activity by both gives reason for Christians to wonder if either of them spent time reading The Holy Bible, and following Its teachings. Clearly, they each used The Bible as a weapon, rather than a spiritual guide.

    I suppose I should wait until morning to have this conversation. I’m in bed with my iPad, and my historical family research, journals, notebooks, documents, and computer are in another room. I spent a good part of yesterday researching the the Bain, Bayn, Bayne, Bain, Bainbigge, Bainridge, Bainbridge family, although, I may be chasing my tail when all is said and done.ncles. His father, King Henry VII, is my direct ancestor. ~

    • Henry and Anne were of their time. Henry did a wonderful thing, bringing the mother tongue to his people. Weakness was NOT an option, as seen by the legions of dead relatives, and beheading was possibly the nicest thing you could do to your rivals.

    • It is truly amazing what can be accomplished using stolen wealth. Henry was a psychopathic egomaniac, not “the product of his time.” He was not a hero.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *