The King’s creation of Clipstone Park

Period: 1176-1180

This map shows the general context of Spa Ponds compared to Clipstone Park as the park existed in 1630.
(Note: The map is not intended to be perfectly aligned or to scale.)

Henry II had the King’s Houses built at King’s Clipstone and had Clipstone Park enclosed to the south-west of the King’s Houses in around 1176-1180. The King’s Houses provided Henry II and subsequent kings a place to stay and hold court and a nearby park to use for hunting deer. Clipstone Park was to the east of what is now Spa Ponds, and in this context ‘Clipstone’ is what was until recently called Old Clipstone but has now been renamed King’s Clipstone after its historic Latin name of Clipstone Regis.

Having a park for hunting (and to provide venison for feasts to show off one’s status) was all the rage amongst the nobles, and the king was no exception. To quote Aljos Farjon: “After the Norman conquest of England in 1066 deer parks became a ‘craze’ among the new nobility, who had taken over almost all the land held before by the Anglo-Saxons. While the Domesday Book in 1086 only recorded 37 deer parks, by around 1300 there may have been as many as 3,000. Every nobleman wanted a park and many had one, while great magnates and some bishops owned 10 or more and the king could boast as many as 80 to 100”.

The King’s Houses have also gone by the name of “King John’s Palace” since the 18th century, but he wasn’t actually the king who had the most to do with the site. While King John did visit Clipstone Park he was one of eight Plantagenet kings to do so. Edward II stayed for the longest stretches (spread throughout at least 15 visits, some of which were around a month) and Edward III visited 23 times (sometimes for a week or more). John visited 7 times, but usually only for a few days. Many of the royal visits to the site coincided with deer hunting season. The site remained in royal ownership until 1603 (which we will get to later).

History of Spa Ponds:

Sources and further reafing: