Broadcast 12 February 2012
Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Videotext Communications Ltd to carry out archaeological recording and post-excavation analysis on an archaeological evaluation by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ on King Charles II’s Royal Palace and racing stables in Newmarket. The current Palace House Mansion and entrance steps are Grade II* listed and the Palace House Stables are Grade II. The Palace was thought to 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 of which is now lost), and a second residence in 1614. Previous archaeological work on the Site has included an evaluation that revealed culverts associated with Charles II’s Palace, and at least three late medieval or post-medieval buildings. Further investigations uncovered more brick culverts, while a later watching brief recorded a wall with a built-in well, associated with the Palace complex.
The Time Team evaluation, comprising four trenches, found evidence of at least two phases of stables associated with the Palace House Mansion. The earliest phase largely conformed to a 1740s map of the complex, apart from a large internal clunchbuilt, load-bearing wall, possibly mirrored by a geophysical anomaly on the opposite side of the building. 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 central spinal wall, but their function is uncertain.
A trench placed within the current car park of Palace House Mansion revealed two, and possibly three walls that were associated with a domestic range of the Palace, probably one of the kitchens. A second trench within the car park had to be abandoned due to the high density of services running through the area.
The fourth trench was placed within the Palace Garden. This uncovered a single post-medieval or modern gully cut into the subsoil. The trench was not, however, excavated down to the natural subsoil, and there could have been further features beneath the current excavated level.