THE KING'S WORKS -- James NEDEHAM (d.1544). Manuscript 'particular book' of James Nedeham as Clerk and Surveyor of the King's Works, 1539-1540, recording detailed accounts for works at Greenwich Palace, the Manor of the More, Westminster Hall, Windsor Castle, Woking Palace, Ampthill Castle and Enfield Manor, the accounts in individual gatherings usually monthly (actually four-weekly periods running from Sunday to Sunday), but occasionally for two- or three-weekly periods, in a number of different hands, with some emendations and additions, some contemporary docketing in reverse orientation, together 254 leaves, 4to (various sizes, 315 x 220mm - 375 x 280mm) including approx 31 blanks, remnants of 4 excised leaves preceding f.1, 20th-century pencil foliation, contemporary dockets (occasional soiling, a few leaves detached, wear and creasing to outer margin of ff.200-214), contemporary stationery binding in blind-stamped calf, laced leather overbands (rather worn).
ff.1-3 Greenwich Stables (annual summary accounts for the year 31 Henry VIII [April 1539-April 1540])
ff.4-57 Greenwich Palace, 23 November 1539 - 1 August 1540
ff.58-128 Manor of the More, 28 September - 26 October 1539, 18 January - 5 September 1540 and (a stray) 7 March - 4 April 1535
ff.129-199 Westminster Hall, 7 October - 7 December 1539, 28 March - 16 May and 13 June - 29 December 1540
ff.200-214 Windsor Castle, 6-27 June and 8 August- 5 September 1540
ff.215-223 Woking Palace ('Okyng'), 4 July - 15 August 1540
ff.224-232 Ampthill Castle, 23 August - 19 September 1540
ff.233-254 Enfield Manor, 20 June - 10 October 1540.
PREPARING GREENWICH PALACE FOR ANNE OF CLEVES: A KEY SOURCE FOR THE KING'S WORKS UNDER HENRY VIII
Each monthly account occupies a separate gathering with its own title page (the accounts for each house are generally the work of a single scribe), and begins with a declaration of Nedeham's office and of the period and property considered: the first payments recorded are those for labour, with details of the work carried out by each group of labourers (which at Greenwich include carpenters, bricklayers, labourers to the bricklayers, plumbers, plasterers, labourers to the plasterers, 'Matmakers' and common labourers as well as overseers), each individual labourer being named and a record kept of the number of days worked in the period (feast days also being marked); a second section records payments for purchases or 'Empcions' for materials from 'Bryck' and 'Payngtyles' [pantiles] to 'Soder' [soulder], 'Yellow Okar' and 'Candylls', together with the cost of their carriage, whether by land or water. The accounts for Greenwich, the More, Westminster Hall and Enfield are written on the original pages of the volume as it would have been purchased (315 x 220mm); the brief accounts for Windsor, Woking and Ampthill have been inserted at the end of the volume on quire tackets on taller and wider leaves (340 x 290mm, with occasional taller leaves of 375 x 280mm partly folded), causing some distortion to the binding and making the original wallet fastening redundant.
The most interesting of the works described are undoubtedly those at Greenwich Palace, where a flurry of building activity in November 1539 - January 1540 must reflect preparations for the imminent arrival of Henry's new queen, Anne of Cleves: in November/December the works concentrate on alterations to the king and queen's respective privy kitchens, including the construction of an 'Entre goyng betwen the Kyngs Prevye Kechen and the saide qwenys with two loopes wyndowes theryn', while in December/January there are extensive last-minute refurbishments (the late hours of the workmen necessiting the purchase of 28 pounds of candles for this month) to the queen's private apartments including to her 'jakes' [latrine] and to her privy closet [private chapel], in which the marriage was to be celebrated on 6 January 1540:
Workyng not Onlye yn Makyng and Framyng of a gallery goyng into the qwenys Jakes w[i]th two wyndows theyrin a dorestall and a new dore to the saide gallery making Framyng Of a dorestall and settyng up of yt yn the Kyngs Prevy chamber Makyng and settyng up of a new clerestory Yn the same chamber And makyng of a halplace under the foresaide dore w[i]th ii Steppes goyng two wayes Also makyng of a clerestory yn the qwenys prevye closet and lyke makyng of a wyndow over the qwenys deske making and settyng up a rooffe over the saide wyndow takyng down of a Partyc[i]on were the new Clooset ys made but also Framyng and settyng up of a Pertyc[i]on Yn the Jewelhowse as makyng Framyng Settyng up and Fynnyssheng of an almes Howse at the Kynggs comaundment w[i]th a clerestory yn yt new Set And also makyng Formes tables and trestylls For the Straungers w[i]th many other Necessarys'.
Later records for Greenwich show a less frantic rate of work, although there is an appealing record of the 'Settyng up of a Skaffolde and takyng doune of yt For a Playe played on Candyllm[a]s nyghtt yn the Kyngs chamber', and later in the year a note of repairs to the organ in the chapel by William Bitton and his son; the summer of 1540 is chiefly occupied in constructing a fence or 'Paell closeng yn the grounds and yarde Abowt the kyngs Houndys Cannell Howse att Detfforthe'.
Works at the other houses do not offer such intimate details of the royal quarters, but nevertheless give a vivid picture of life at the Tudor palaces: at Henry's manor of the More (near Rickmansworth) the accounts refer chiefly to fencing and work on the moat and sluices and in the park, including major works on the construction of a 'new brydge for to goo over the mayne Ryver' and the construction of a hunting stand in the park for the King, but there are also appealing details of the construction of 'a shode for the skolary [scullery] to wasche the prynsis vessell under' and 'makyng of a Frame of skaffolde polis over the prynsis bedchamb[e]r to kepe a waye the hete of the sonne from his grace'; at Westminster Hall the accounts record an extensive programme of work on the roofing and guttering as well as the reflooring of 'the Kings excheker counsell chamber'; at Windsor Castle the works appear to be maintenance and functional additions in the main, though a number of trestles are constructed for the royal quarters, as well as a new bridge in the 'lytell p[ar]ke'; at Woking Palace the new bridge over the river is re-planked and there is 'new lathyng and dabyng of a yakes howse in sir antony brownes logyng' [Sir Anthony Browne (c.1500-1548) was one of the most influential courtiers of Henry's later years]; at Ampthill a new closet is constructed 'For the Kyngs grace to heer mase in'; at Enfield a number of tables are made for the hall. Appealingly, the last leaf records Nedeham's own emoluments for the year, listing his 'Ordinarie ridynge costs', his 'Ordinarie chargs by water' and his 'Ordinarie fee' at two shillings a day, 'over and besides vi d a daye more to him alowed for a clarke to make the books Ingrossed and kepinge a Juste reknynge'.
James Nedeham is a pivotal figure in the history of the King's Works, as the first craftsman appointed head of the works, having been promoted from Master Carpenter. The title of the role was accordingly modified from simply 'Clerk' to 'Clerk and Surveyor'; his successors were to be known simply as 'Surveyors'. His appointment may be a reflection of the increased activity in the works in the last years of Henry's reign -- not least because of the very considerable expansion in the number of royal houses, from the thirteen he inherited to the more than 50 he left at his death (a disposition which served in part to compensate for the loss of monastic hospitality, but which was still greater than that of any English monarch before or since). Nedeham was therefore, in contrast to his predecessors, an active architect, who is thought to have designed amongst other structures the roof over the Great Hall at Hampton Court and the Jewel House at the Tower of London: interestingly in view of the preparations for Anne of Cleves' arrival at Greenwich, one of the most substantial tasks of his tenure was the hasty conversion of the former monastery of St Augustine's, Canterbury to receive Anne late in 1539 -- although in the event she spent only one night there.
For Nedeham's 12 years as Clerk and Surveyor, ten annual particular books survive (five in the Bodleian Library, two at the University of Nottingham, and one each at the British Library and the National Archives, in addition to the present volume), as well as 11 other volumes or fragments. He is however the only Tudor Clerk or Surveyor to be represented in such a wealth of detail: in fact, Nedeham is the only surveyor to have left any significant series of particular books, although annual summary accounts do survive for Henry Smyth from 1509-16 and most of Nedeham's successors; there is significant information on building expenditure also in the chamber accounts for the period. Nedeham's particular books are therefore a key source for the detailed functioning of the King's Works and of the royal households in general, sometimes for structures which are no longer extant or were subsequently significantly reconstructed: they are especially important as sources of information for Greenwich Palace, which is otherwise poorly documented under Henry VII and VIII. A microfilm of the present volume is held at the Bodleian Library (MS Film 308).
H.M. Colvin et al. The History of the King's Works, 1973-1982, vols 3 & 4
ODNB. 'James Nedeham (d.1544)'
D.R. Ransome. 'The "Particular Books" of James Nedeham, Surveyor of the King's Works', J. Soc. Archivists, ii (1960), pp.267-70