I decided to go to Hampton Court Palace because it was about 30 years since I last went inside and 3 years since I visited their Garden Festival. It’s a beautiful place to visit and very quiet for the time of year.
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The Historical Bit:
Hampton Court Palace was built in 1514 for Cardinal Wolsey who gave it to Henry VIII. He lived there with his 6 wives and their descendants. It has been rebuilt and extended a number of times. George II was the last king to live there. After that it was occupied by various individuals including Michael Faraday, who was the pioneer for electricity, and the Royal School of Needlework who are still based there.
Highlights of Hampton Court Palace:
Henry VIII’s Great Hall with the carved hammerbeam roof, Anne Boleyns’s coat of arms and tapestries showing the life of Abraham from the book of Genesis
William III’s state apartments which has a grand staircase with murals and 9 large paintings of the Triumphs of Caesar by Andrea Mantegna.
The Chapel with beautiful carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
The Haunted Gallery where some people have seen the ghost of Catherine Howard running away from guards after Henry VIII was told she had committed adultery.
Art and sculpture from the Royal Collection including 12 paintings of Venice by Canaletto, various portraits of Henry VIII and his family and lots of sculptures both in the palace itself and in the grounds.
The Grape Vine planted by Capability Brown in 1769 is now the largest in the world.
There are 60 acres of gardens and 750 acres of parkland where you can see descendants of Henry VIII’s deer.
The Hampton Court Maze which is a good place to get lost in.
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What I didn’t like:
The tickets are expensive and the wasps are not very friendly! It was a very humid day and there was no air conditioning in the palace.
The Practical Bit:
Hampton Court Palace is in East Molesey, Surrey, 12 miles south west of Central London. It has a couple of cafes, ice cream vans and gift shops. A number of buses stop near the main gate and Hampton Court railway station is a 5 minute walk across the bridge. It’s at the end of a branch line from Wimbledon. You can also travel there by boat from Richmond and Kingston.
If you like Hampton Court Palace, you will enjoy visiting Kensington Palace in west London, which also has grand staircases, murals, paintings and sculpture and is set in beautiful parkland. I’ve been there too and written about it on my blog. See the menu on the left.