...the Royal Pew, parts of which were originally built by Cardinal Wolsey in the late 1520s, was discovered. Works were taking place to stabilise the existing pew, or balcony, in Hampton Court’s Chapel Royal.
The existing Royal Pew’s slow shifting in recent years caused it to be closed to visitors. Over 2005 and 2006 efforts to stabilise the structure led to paneling around the pew being removed.
It was behind this paneling – first installed in 1700 by Christopher Wren – that the 500-year-old frame of the original Royal Pew was discovered.
Tree-ring dating, or dendrochronology, has proved that parts of the pew were originally built by Cardinal Wolsey in the late 1520s.
A large balcony at the back of the Chapel Royal, the Royal Pew was originally divided into a pair of holyday closets, one for Henry VIII’s use and the other for his queen.
Discovery of the original frame has also revealed further secrets. From sockets and joints in the timber work we have been able to work out the original positions of lost floors, partitions and internal windows.
Stonework was also found behind the paneling covered in graffiti carved by generations of chapel-goers as far back as the 16th century.