Havering Palace was an old royal residence in England. Between its building before 1066 until its abandonment in 1686 it was in the village of Havering-atte-Bower (in the London Borough of Havering, before 1965 in Essex). By 1816 no walls remained above ground.
It stood to the north and west of Havering's parish church of St John the Evangelist, which was one of the palace’s chapels.
The earliest references to a royal demesne at Havering date from the time of Edward the Confessor, and although there is no definite proof that he ever visited it, the strength of local legend suggests he did. It was definitely a royal manor by the Norman Conquest when it passed to William the Conqueror. The royal manor also gave the surrounding area the designation of the Royal Liberty of Havering, which gave those living in the area freedom from taxation and other benefits. The manor was granted to Queen Eleanor by Henry III in 1262 and thereafter usually belonged to the queen consort or dowager (the queen mother) until the death of Jane Seymour in 1537, leading to the 'Bower' portion of the village's place name.
A house was already at Havering by the 12th Century, and extensive building took place in the 13th Century. Many monarchs from then on are recorded as having stayed there and in 1358 Edward III held a 5-month Marshalsea Court at Havering Palace for locals to air their personal grievances, an unusual act since the Marshalsea Court was reserved for the royal household. Not all monarchs used Havering Palace for such holy occupations an King Edward the Confessor, and in 1381 at the end of the Peasants' Revolt some who had rebelled met the young King Richard II to ask for mercy as he held court at Havering, but despite their pleas many were tried and executed. Richard also visited in 1397 on his way to Pleshey on a visit to Thomas of Woodstock which started a train of events that resulted in his murder on Richard's behalf.
Queen Elizabeth I stayed at Havering Palace on several occasions including while the army was mustered before going on to give her famous |address at Tilbury, but even in her time it was described as falling into decay. After Elizabeth I some record that James I stayed there while others record that he preferred to use Theobalds House on the other side of Epping Forest. By the 17th Century it was in poor condition with King Charles I the last monarch to stay there in 1638. The close association with monarchy may have affected what happened during the Commonwealth as Richard Deane, who was one of those who signed the warrant for the Execution of Charles I, started dismantling the buildings and caused all of the mature trees in the park to be felled. After the Restoration the house (by then called Havering House) was occupied by the Earl of Lindsey but despite evidence of considerable sums of money being spent on repairs, it became vacant some time between 1686 and 1719, when it was reported to be in ruins. Stone from it may subsequently have been used for other local buildings, as by 1816 no walls were visible above ground.
At its greatest extent before decay set in, most of the palace dated from the major building works of the 13th century with a newer block built in 1576-7. The plan was irregular, containing a great chamber, royal apartments, two chapels, and various out-buildings. The parkland surrounding it covered most of the former parish of Havering-atte-Bower west of the main road (now North Road) and was much more extensive than the current Havering Country Park, which covers the part of the former park adjoining the site of the palace and is the 18th-highest hill in London.
Royalty and other famous people who have resided in the palace at some point include:
- Edward the Confessor
- Harold Godwinson
- William I
- Henry II
- Eleanor of Aquitaine
- Edward III
- Richard II
- Joan of Navarre, Queen of England, who died at the palace in 1437
- Edward IV
- Henry VIII
- Mary I
- Elizabeth I
- Charles I, the last monarch to reside at Havering
- Marie de Medici, the Queen of France and mother-in-law to Charles I, although she took a look at the crumbling palace, she decided to rest at Gidea Hall, Romford a few miles south.
- Richard Cromwell
- Robert Bertie, 3rd Earl of Lindsey
- A History of the County of Essex: Volume 7 (1978), pp. 9-17, Parishes: Havering-atte-Bower . Date accessed: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
- Neale 1997, p. 69.
- Neale 1997, p. 73.
- Neale 1997, p. 97.
- Addison, William (1949). Essex Heyday. London: J.M. Dent & Sons. p. 277.