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Grizzly discovery at West Horsley Place

West Horsley Place

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 9:37am 25th October 2017. (Updated at 12:48pm 25th October 2017)

Workers making emergency repairs to West Horsley Place - have made a grizzly discovery.

The Grade I listed building was being assessed by a team of conservationists, trying to work out the most immediate conservation needs of the house.

But as they investigated the site, which was once owned by King Henry VIII, they stumbled across a derelict and un-used room.

Inside they found what is believed to be an ancient Executioner's Axe.

West Horsley Place

Although there is no record of executions having taken place at West Horsley Place, beheading has brought about changes in ownership of the manor house and its surrounding 380 acre estate.

It starts in 1388 with the execution of Sir James Berners, charged with misguiding King Richard II.

In 1536, Henry VIII handed ownership to his cousin, Henry Courtenay who was later convicted of treason and beheaded two years later.

West Horsley Place

And following the execution of her husband in 1618, Elizabeth Raleigh achieved her unlikely wish of retaining Sir Walter's severed head in a "red leather bag".

She kept it by her side at all times for the rest of her life - including when she lived at West Horsley Place.

Commenting, Peter Pearce, Director of the Mary Roxburghe Trust - the charity created to rescue and restore West Horsley Place - said: "With a long line of illustrious owners - including Royalty and members of the Royal Court - it is perhaps not surprising that beheading, the punishment reserved for those of noble birth, has played its part in the history of West Horsley Place.

West Horsley Place

"But discovering an axe here was quite a shock! The axe has since been sent to an historic weapons expert for analysis."

"As we take steps towards rescuing and restoring this enchanting house of significant historic and architectural interest, we look forward to unravelling more of its extraordinary past."

West Horsley Place

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