The history of Wayneflete Tower is fascinating. It takes its title from its 15th century builder, William Wayneflete, who gained his name from his birthplace, Wainfleet, Lincolnshire. The Tower was the former gatehouse to his grand Esher Palace, sited on the banks of the River Mole in Surrey, and is all that remains today. Wayneflete’s Esher Palace was the precursor to Tudor architecture and later inspired Cardinal Wolsey’s Hampton Court. The gatehouse was repeatedly added to and stripped of its architectural limbs, having twice been the central structure of two successive properties in the 17th and 18th centuries. These vicissitudes represented distinctive periods in English history, with perhaps William Kent’s commission for Henry Pelham being the most outstanding. Significantly, William Kent invented the Gothic Revival at Esher. Quite remarkably the Tower has survived it all.
Subsequent owners of the Esher estate include two Kings (Henry VIII and Edward VI), a Queen (Elizabeth I), a Protector of England (Duke of Northumberland), a Prime Minister (Henry Pelham), a Cardinal (Thomas Wolsey), a Lord (Lord D’Abernon), a Lady (Lady Helen D’Abernon), two Equerries (Richard Drake and John Latton), a Governor Lieutenant of Jamaica (Sir Thomas Lynch), a stockbroker (John Spicer), a Master of the Rolls (Sir Raymond Francis Evershed) and an American stage and screen actress (Frances Day).
Residents include an Earl (Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley), a Lady (Lady Sheffied of Butterwick), three Spanish Admirals captured during the defeat of the Spanish Armada, (Don Pedro de Valdez, Alonso de Zayas of Laja and Vasco de Mendoza de Silva of Jerez de los Caballeros) and other visitors include the great circumnavigator Sir Francis Drake, English antiquarians and writers (John Aubrey and Horace Walpole), a novelist (Jane Austen) and a Russian ballerina (Anna Pavlova). Reference has even been made to the estate of ‘Asher’ by the literary great, William Shakespeare.