Henry VIIIs records give us a good insight into the nature of his house and visits to Chobham. It appears that the King travelled with a retinue too large to be accommodated in his house at Chobham Park and most lived in a tented and prefabricated houses. The effort to move all this to each new locations must have been enormous and expensive.
In 'A History of Chobham', Robbie Schueller wrote:
In addition to the two personal royal visits. details of the preparations for two further visits in 1545 and 1546. have been preserved among the papers of' the family of More-Molyneux in their manor at Loseley. Extracts from these documents are printed here as they give not only detailed costings of the operations but also names of Chobham people engaged in assisting in the work in preparing the site, in carrying goods, and a variety of local purchases. Each of' the accounts begins with a brief summary of' the purpose of' the operation (as these are very similar we only give one as an example):
A paymente Made by Nyclas Brystowe Esquire as well for the Charge of the Caryage by Lande and water of the Kings Hyghness Tents Hales Pavylyons and Joyned Tymber Howses from London to Hampton Court and Otland & from thence to Chobham with new Edypfyng & settyng up of the great Tymber Howse made of Force with recaryage of all the said Tents Hales Pavylyons and Tymber Howses by land and water from Chobham to London Eyryng (airing) and drying-the same at London which had taken wett ... As also for all manner necessaryes bought for the premyses for the span of 14 weeks that ys from the 15th Daye of July in the 38th year of the Reigne of our Soveraigne lorde Henry the eighth by the Grace of God Kynge of England France & Irland Defender of the Faythe & in Erthe [Earth] Supreme Head Under God of the Church of England & also of' Irland unto the 18th Day of October next & Immedyatly Following inclusive. 16
In one of the introductory remarks in 1545 the clerk had obviously omitted to state the Kings new title 'as Head of the Church in Ireland' (which had only been introduced in 1541) and the omission was quickly added in another hand! As to the need to dry the tents at London we read that: 'the said tents had to be carried and dried at the Blackfriars in London which had taken water upon the Thames in the sudden tempest in the night from the 4th day of September.
Here are the details of the carriage duties:
The final pages of the account give details of local purchases:
Ironwork and its carriage; and other provisions:
1. Dewe to William Turker of Chertsey, smith, for nine pairs of hinges 11 pairs of hooks wayng 100 lbs at 2d. the lb 16s. 8d.
2. Dewe to Thomas Spore for ink and paper by him layd on at sondrye tymes 2s.
3. To William Porter of Weybridge for half a dozen Bylletts to make tent stake of hym bought and delyrd at Otlands 2s. 3d.
4. To John Mathin and William Porter as above 2s. 3d.
5. To Y. Kendall, wax chandler, for 14 lbs of Wax, spent at the Blake Fryars in seariyng of the newe Canvase for the covyryng of the Joyned Howses & the Howse of `Force' joynyng to the sayd Joyned Howses taking for ... lb so wrought £3 13s.
6. Dewe to Jasper Arnold, Basketmaker, for 14 great ... for tent stake at 10d. the pair 11 s. 8d.
7. Dewe to Jane Dowsett of Kyngston for six doz of candells spent in workyng by nyght at 1d. the lb 9s.
8. Dewe to Robert Wykynson, Turner, for Tent Stakes at 2s. the ... £3 l0s.
9. Dewe to Sir Thomas Cawarden, knight, for 16 lodes of poles at Holingbrook beyond Croydon takyng 10s. for 28 lodes so done £8
10. Dewe to Wyllyam Sharpare, Smyth, for theyr parcells follwng of hym bought and delyvered at London viz. various Brodes l0s.
11. Dewe to John Alard, glasyer, for ten Lantern Horne at 2s. the ten for 2 Ib of powder 12d. for 2 Ib of lead ready cast 6d. for resyn Id. £21 7s.
12. Dewe to John Lyle, cordwayner, for thread and wax by him bought and delyvered at Chobham 1s. 6d.
13. Dewxe to Thomas Chappell, upholsterer, for these parcell Following of him bought and delyvered at London viz. nine yards of reade saye at 9d. the yd. and for six pairs of browne lyars at 4d. the pair 2s., 8s. 9d.
14. Dewe to William Hobson, haberdasher, for these parcells following of him bought and dyed at London ... for 10 butte of threade at 2s. 4d. the butt 23s. 4d. for one doz of Whartells 6d. for besyng thread 14d. £l 5s.
15. Dewe to John Sturgyon, ironmonger, of London bought of him and delyvered at London, viz. english sprygge, leather trashe, lantern Horn for mending & repayryng windows, etc £8 3s. 10d.
16. Dewe to Thomas Blake, smyth, for joynts with bolts, corners of the long galerys mending the old joynts, hoopes for tents, great wire for the frame of the tymber howses etc £26 13s. 7d.
Total of various provisions £75 16s. 6d.
The total expenditure for the expedition amounted to no less than £341 l1s. In the report for the 1546 expedition we found the following note which refers to Chobham people:
To Bartholomew Skyte and Alyn Lye constables of Chobham for horses by them provyded and delyvered by days for caryng and fetchyn of dyvers and sonndre necessaryes from London Chertsey Stanes Wyndsor, and other places by the space of 14 days at 4d the day- 4s 8d and gyven in reward to the sayd Constables for theyr paynes takyng duryng the sayd tyme 3s 4d and to Peter Frimlyeman for one horse by the space of 10 days at 4d the day - 5s unpayd as before ... "
The lists of Chobham people mentioned in the records as employed provide some problems: the whole expedition took place at harvest-time, when every farmer would be very busy in his own fields, whilst, on the other hand, the wages paid by the London people do not appear to have been attractive enough to entice farmers to leave their own work, so it is perhaps permissible to argue that a farmer called upon to do 24 days work such as labouring, and earning for these days only 12 s in all, would have sent a labourer in his own place. (There are three persons viz John Stevenson, John Spong and Henry Rogers, whose names are shown every time some work or other had to be done.) Unfortunately, we have no contemporary records to distinguish between farmers and labourers, but even a charge of 12d. for a whole day's work with a cart and 9d. for a load taken from Oatlands to Chobham (which, of course, meant first an empty journey to Oatlands) was not such as to encourage a farmer to attend. Of course we must not forget that a call by his Majesty's delegate would not easily be refused. It might be useful to compare these charges with the craftsmen's wages (from 6d to 9d. per day for all and 10d to 12d. per day for the foremen).
To end this most extravagant report we must, however, admit that we have not found proof in any record of Henry VIII's reign that he really did visit Chobham in the last two years of his reign (1545-46) and the preparations may have been in vain. After all, 1545 was the year of the Mary Rose, and:
Mr Neville Williams in his Henry VIII and his Court (1971) says, on page 149: