The Quest for Nonsuch, by John Dent (Hutchinson, 40s.).
F all London's vanished palaces, none deserved its fate less than Nonsuch. For over 150 years, from its beginnings in Henry VII's reign (when the church and village of Cuddington were wiped off the map to make way for the palace) to its shabby end (when Barbara Villiers, favourite of Charles H turned her gift into ready cash by selling it stone by stone), Nonsuch was famed throughout Europe for its splendour and magnificence. Yet CO complete was its destruction that until a few years ago no-one knew for certain its exact site and ground plan.
John Dent's scholarly detective work revealed the . fascinating details after years of painstaking study of the hundreds of printed and manuscript sources and illustrations. Collectively they give a remarkably complete picture of the palace which Henry VIII, Elizabeth and the early Stuarts knew. But what makes the book especially interesting is that the Ministry of Works' site excavation in 1959 confirmed Mr. Dent's picture and added many details. This dig is described in full in the latter part of the hook.
In particular, it brought to light thousands of fragments of the farnou. plaster panels. framed in gilded slate and decorated with high-relief classical scenes, which covered the inward-facing walls of the Inner Court where the royal apartments were situated.
This well-illustrated hook is a "must" for all archaeologists and which of us is not an amateur archaeologist at heart?