Oatlands, literally "lands where oats were grown", was the Tudor Palace in Oatlands Park that Henry VIII forced John Rede to cede ownership in 1538 in order for him to begin work on a lavish palace for his new Queen, Anne of Cleves. Although she never lived there, it did become the home of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I. Oatlands Palace was demolished after 1650 and the name passed to a former Tudor Lodge, built on the 'highest part of the park'.
After the Restoration, Oatlands reverted to the Crown and William III granted it to the Right Honourable Arthur Herbert, 1st and last Earl of Torrington (c.1648-1716). He served as Lord High Admiral (1689) and then First Lord of the Admiralty (1689-1690) and played an important role in the War of the League of Augsburg, commanding the English and Dutch fleets at the Battle of Beachy Head (June 30, 1690).
In 1790, the Duke of York (1763-1827) 2nd son of George III, took up residence in Oatlands with his wife, Princess Fredrica Charlotte Ulrica (1767-1820), the daughter of the King of Prussia. He was the "Grand Old Duke of York, who had ten thousand men" of the children's nursery rhyme. After his wife's death, the Duke of York sold Oatlands to Edward Hughes Ball-Hughes, nicknamed 'The Golden Ball' due to his great wealth.
The celebrated diarist Lady Charlotte Schreiber (1812-95), who married first in 1833 Josiah John Guest, the founder of what was to become Guest Keen & Nettlefold, then in 1855 her children's tutor Charles Schreiber, was an avid collector. A coinessuer, she donated her collection of ceramics to the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum, in 1884. She kept detailed diaries of her collecting trips or 'chasses ', as she called them. Her daughter in law, Lady Theodora Guest, inherited these lead figures from her.
John van Nost (I)
Originally hailing from Flanders, John van Nost (I) was first recorded as working in England under Hugh May at Windsor Castle in circa 1678. By 1686 he advanced to the position of foreman in Artus Quellinus' (III) studio where he also earned a good reputation for supplying lead garden figures for the English gentry. Van Nost worked predominantly in a restrained Baroque manner, thereby appealing to English taste, often basing his compositions on earlier and contemporary European sources; thus, for Sir Thomas Coke (1675-–1727) of Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire, for example, he produced a number of lead figures based on Giambologna's Mercury (1699-1705) and putti after François Duquesnoy (1699-1705).
His most important work at Melbourne remains the Vase of the Seasons (1705), which, supported by four monkeys, also bears four heads and reliefs emblematic of the Seasons. He produced for Charles, 3rd Earl of Carlisle a number of lead garden statues for Castle Howard (1703-–10), and also supplied wealthy patrons like Wilimh, 1st Duke of Devonshire (for Chatsworth) and William III at Hampton Court with marble for chimney-pieces and tables.
When Van Nost died in circa 1712 he had a large school of pupils and assistants in the workshop near Hyde Park Corner. Following the sale of the contents in the same year, which included 'Marble and Leaden Figures, Busto'’s and Noble Vases, Marble Chimney Pieces and Curious Marble Tables,' the workshop was continued by his nephew, Gerard van Nost, until it was taken over by John van Nost the younger in 1729.