King John's Palace was a Royal hunting lodge, so called because it was so often frequented by that monarch.
The site is said to have originally been a chapel built by King Edwin of Northumbria. It was extended by King Henry I, but destroyed by fire in 1220.
Henry II re-erected it only fifty years later. Its grandeur can be summarised by the fact that Richard Lionheart chose Clipstone Palace to meet King William of Scots on April 2nd 1194. We can only imagine the entertainments planned: no king of Richard's standing would choose to meet a fellow monarch particularly when greater houses were within reach. Maybe less formality and the pleasure of the hunt were the reason for this choice. Richard was chronicled at the time with being 'much pleased' by what he found at Clipstone.
King John, Richard's brother was given The Manors of Clipstone, while still Earl of Mortain. Deprived of them once because of mutinous behaviour in trying to seize the crown whilst his brother was at the Crusades, they were later restored.
Robin Hood and his men are said, at one time, to have entered the palace and liberated all the prisoners in the dungeon, while Prince John was off on a wild goose chase searching for the outlaws amongst the Creswell Caves.
Later, in 1290 King Edward I was at this Palace on the 22nd of September when his wife, Queen Eleanor, who was staying at nearby Harby became unwell, suffering from a slow fever (Wikes says, 'Modicae febris igniculo contabescens').
She subsequently died and the grief stricken King proceeded to London with her body, and as a lasting memorial to her had beautiful crosses built at every place that the party stopped. (only a few of these remain and an example can be seen at Charing Cross in London).
There are actually only five recorded visits to the Kings Houses but possibly some went unchronicled.
For some reason 'King John's Palace' stuck but not at the time. William Senior's map 1630 refers to the building as Manor Garth and Hoopers engraving refers to the Kings Houses 1784.
By the time a survey was done in 1525, the palace was in a state of serious decay; the chimneys of the kitchen had gone. The floor and southern part of the great chamber had rotted and the roof of the chapel had gone. The 4th Duke of Portland was known to have robbed the foundations in 1816, for use in the Watermeadows irrigation scheme locally called 'The Duke's Flood Dyke'.
Today only a few sturdy walls remain. King John's Palace was one of the first three listed buildings in the country. Stonehenge and Fountains Abbey were the other two.
See also NTGM018440 for an drawing from 1898.