* Prices may differ from that shown
As a member of the Historical Royal Palaces admission to Hampton Court Palace is free. If you are not a member you can expect to pay £17.60 for an adult, £8.80 for a child and £14.85 for students and OAPs. The Palace is open every day from 10am until 6pm. The Palace is five minutes walk from the mainline rail station of the same name, which can be accessed from London Waterloo. Trains run every thirty minutes. As you arrive the ticket office and gift shop is on your left. You can also visit the Tiltyard Café without paying admission. There has been a property on this spot since the 14th century, but the earliest parts of the palace we see today were not built until 1494, although much of it was built when Cardinal Wolsey acquired it in the early 16th century. He expanded it in order to entertain his boss, King Henry VIII. When Wolsey failed to persuade the Pope to grant a Henry a divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon, his days were numbered, and Henry removed him and took over the palace. You enter into Base Court and from here you can access various exhibitions within the Palace. I recommend getting a guide book (£4.99) or an audio tour (I have not used the latter do cannot comment but they seem popular) to get the most out of your visit. Free maps and audio guides are available from the information room in the top left hand corner of Base Court. MANTEGNA'S TRIUMPHS OF CAESAR Part of the Royal Collection (the largest private art collection in the world), is this collection of nine paintings by Andrea Mantegna. Painted in the late 15th Century, and purchased by Charles I, these paintings show ...well... the triumphs of Caesar as understood in that period of time. They are (apparently) very famous, although I had not heard of them. They are situated in the Lower Orangery - follow the signs from the lower right hand side in Base Court. I don't think my visit was enhanced by seeing these paintings personally. There are many paintings in the palace itself, that I preferred. HENRY VIII There is a small exhibition of the early years of Henry VIII, newly married to his first wife, Katherine, and was happy with his chief administrator Wolsey. This area is known as the Wolsey Rooms, and would have been his private apartments in the early days of the palace. Across the other side of the Palace are the apartments that he would have used latterly. The Great Hall is an impressive room. Large, with ornate, carved high ceilings, rich tapestries and many animal horns on the walls, this would be where banquets and balls would have been held. In fact, the lower ranked staff would have eaten here when the room wasn't required for other purposes as Henry's retinue contained up to 600 staff (eat your heart out Justin Bieber). Beyond here was the Watching Chamber where Henry's guards controlled access to him. His personal rooms were also off of here, but were lost during subsequent re-modelling. We can visit the processional route (towards the chapel) whch is also known as the Haunted Gallery allegedly haunted by the ghost of Henry's 4th wife Katherine Howard whom he beheaded for adultery. Off of here is the council chamber where a number of key political decisions are likely to have been made. THE CHAPEL ROYAL Built by Wolsey in the early 16th century, the magnificent ceiling was later added by Henry VIII and subsequently refurbished by Queen Anne. The Chapel regularly holds services so is not open at all times, this is worth checking on arrival and planning your visit accordingly. On Sundays it is open 12.30-1.30pm and 4.45pm onwards. Sadly you cannot take photos in here. The Royal Family did not sit on the lower level but in the first floor gallery, accessed separately via the Henry's apartments. There is a replica crown on the upper level. You cannot take photos in any part of the chapel. HENRY VIII'S KITCHENS A large part of the original kitchens either no longer exist or are not accessible, there is still quite a bit to see. Personally, this was far from my favourite section. You enter the kitchens from the Master Carpenter's Court which can be accessed from the corner of Base Court. The kitchen area was made up of many different 'departments' and have been mocked up with fake meats/fish alongside real herbs and vegetables. The replica foods and utensils are based on research by food historians. You will see various preparation and food serving areas. As you come out of the kitchen area you will see some wine cellars, ultimately leading to a shop. WILLIAM III'S APARTMENTS These were very attractive and well worth a visit. You get here from Clock Court and walk up the amazing King's Staircase, where the wall and ceiling and painted in a bright mural. This part of the palace was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren. Beyond the staircase the first room you come to is the Guard Chamber, where the King's gunsmith created the décor using 2,850 pieces of armour and assorted weapons, making a number of patterns. Next is the spacious King's Presence Chamber, where the king would sit and greet visitors. If he wasn't there, people would greet an empty chair. From here you go through to the King's Eating Room where he may dine on formal occasions, followed by the Privy Chamber. The next room, the Withdrawing Room was more private and then you have the Great Bedchamber, where the king may receive senior courtiers and ministers. The Little Bedchamber is where he may have had some privacy. Beyond here are his actual private apartments where only a few favoured courtiers would have been admitted in order to assist the King with any personal business as well as dining with close friends. Here his windows overlooked his Privy garden. All through this part of the palace you will see a lot of paintings and decorated murals on the ceiling. MARY II'S APARTMENTS Part of Queen Mary's (wife of William) apartments have become a special exhibition entitled Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber. Again, these are accessed via an attractive staircase (although William's have the edge for me). Mary died suddenly and the apartments were not finished, Queen Anne made some subsequent alterations and put her own style, plus Queen Caroline (wife of George II) also put her stamp on it. After the exhibition (see below) you still get to see some of the apartments such as Queen Anne's Drawing Room and the Queen's bed chamber (in Queen Caroline's style). Although these are the actual rooms, much of them have been given over to the exhibition temporarily. SECRETS OF THE ROYAL BEDCHAMBER This special exhibition is running from March - November 2013 and takes over part of Queen Mary's apartments (above). The exhibition celebrates an era when the monarch ruled from his bedchamber. A short film about this is shown in the first room - on the ceiling - and you lay on piles of mattresses to watch it. Certainly a novel and comfortable way to watch a film! The concept of ruling from the bedchamber was brought over by Charles II from the French Court in 1660. However as the monarch became less powerful, and Parliament held the political power, this practice was redundant by the latter half of the 16th century. You can view some of these beds here, including the last Great State Bed of Queen Charlotte's which was never used. There was also a TV documentary about it back in the summer. GEORGIAN APARTMENTS Much of these were shut in preparation for a 2014 exhibition, although you can access part near the Queen's staircase. Mainly it is galleries available currently. THE GARDENS Hampton Court is famous for its gardens and holds a flower show each summer. If you wish to visit just the gardens alone then there is a charge during the summer, otherwise it is included in your Palace ticket. They are beautiful and well worth spending time in if the weather is obliging. The Rose Garden and Wilderness garden are free, but you will have to pay to go into the maze if you don't have a Palace ticket. The first time I went into the maze (four years ago) we got into the centre straight away and were a bit disappointed. This time we did manage to get a bit lost and it was more fun. The maze is the oldest one in Britain. The dramatic cone shaped yew trees offer plenty of shade on summer days and are pleasant to stroll amongst but I much prefer the ornate Privy Garden (based on how it looked in 1702) and the bright, colourful Pond Garden. Also in the gardens is the world largest vine, in a glass house down one end. There is a small garden exhibition next to the garden shop. AMENITIES There are a number of shops here, mostly selling different things. The main shop is by the ticket office. Most will have general gifts, such a guide books and pencils, but they seem to have different pencils in each shop for example. For food related gifts and recipe books go to the shop near the wine cellar (as you come to Base Court from Clock Court on the right hand side). Garden related gifts can be purchased in the garden shop (by the East Gate). Food wise there are some ice creams available in the gardens, a coffee shop by the Kitchens/wine cellar and the biggest restaurant is the Tiltyard Café, which is outside the palace in the grounds by The Rose Garden. Here they have a range of hot foods, sandwiches, cakes, drinks and snacks. I had a spinach cannelloni, which was quite nice, but a hard and dry at the bottom. There are a number of public toilets, all those that we used were fine. SUMMARY I think Hampton Court is well worth a visit. The leaflet says to allow three hours but we were here five and a half. The time you spend will vary according to your level of interest, and the weather will impact your exploration of the gardens. If you love history, palaces and stately homes then this really is a must visit destination.
When my mam came down to London to stay with me for a few days, I asked her to choose some places she'd like to visit. Top of her list was Hampton Court Palace. Years ago, my dad, who used to be a teacher, visited several times with parties of schoolchildren, but my mam had never had the chance to go - until now. I had visited before - back in 2009 - but was happy to go again. Hampton Court is perhaps best known for its connection with Henry VIII. The Palace was the main country residence of Cardinal Wolsey, and on his fall it was taken over by the King. However, it also has strong associations with the age of William and Mary, and in fact it has a rich and varied history going back around 800 years. If you live in or have visited London recently you may have noticed the adverts for Hampton Court: some display the Palace's striking Tudor front and some, its exuberant Baroque-inspired back view. I feel that these adverts are excellent at getting across what Hampton Court is all about - royal connections and contrasting design. ***Location and Travel*** Hampton Court Palace is south west of London, beside the River Thames. If you are coming by car, the Palace is within the M25 near the M3 and M4 and is apparently well signposted with brown heritage signs (though I can't verify this, having never visited by car). My mam and I arrived via train: there is a regular South West Trains service to Hampton Court Station from London Waterloo, which takes only 35 minutes. For Travelcard and Oyster card purposes, the station is in Zone 6 so if you have a Travelcard valid for that zone - or Oyster Pay as You Go - there's no need to buy a separate train ticket. The Palace is close by, signposted and easily reached by crossing the bridge to the right. Several bus routes also pass by the Palace: visit the website for more details. ***Opening Times and Prices*** The Palace is open Monday - Sunday, 10:00 - 18:00 with the last admission at 17:00. I would strongly advise getting there as early as possible to make the most of your day - my mam and I got there just after midday and didn't have time to see everything. Entrance to the palace costs £16.95 for an adult and £8.50 for a child. Concessions (e.g. students, over 60s) are £14.30. A family ticket - encompassing two adults and up to 6 children - is £43.46. It is also possible to purchase tickets for the maze only and the garden only, which are cheaper. Sadly, Hampton Court Palace is not included in the Art Fund scheme, so I wasn't able to get in for free with my National Art Pass, as I had been able to do at Kensington Palace. However, Hampton Court does accept Tesco Days Out vouchers, and I had some of these, so my mam and I paid about four pounds between us. Hampton Court Palace is one of the Historic Royal Palaces (see bottom of review): if you are a member of HRP you can get in for free. ***History*** Hampton Court Palace has a long and eventful history. Records indicate that the Knights Hospitallers of St John Jerusalem used the site as a centre for their agricultural estates as early as 1236. They began to rent out the site around the fifteenth century. One tenant, the socially climbing courtier Giles Daubeney, received visits from the royal family - Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth - at the beginning of the Tudor period, and after he died in 1508 the estate was taken over by Thomas Wolsey. Wolsey was Henry VIII's right-hand man for a number of years, rising to become a Cardinal and Lord Chancellor of England. He transformed Hampton Court into a vast Bishop's palace, installing private rooms for himself and suites for the royal family. Base Court, the vast outer courtyard, was built by Wolsey. During his tenure, the Palace played host to state occasions, entertaining important European visitors and serving as a backdrop for political machinations. After Wolsey's fall in 1528 (he had failed to get Henry a divorce from Katherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn), the King took over Hampton Court and it acquired a pre-eminence never subsequently matched. His building works were extravagant and included tennis courts, kitchens, a chapel, a Great Hall and a hunting park. All of his wives spent time here and they, along with the King's children, had lodgings in the Palace. Again, the place was used to host international delegations, such as the French ambassador and his 200-strong entourage in 1546. After Henry's death, each of his three children - all of whom ruled England at one point or another - spent time at Hampton Court. The Palace was used but not greatly added to until the reign of James VI of Scotland - in 1603, James I of England - who was a keen huntsman and made the most of the superb hunting to be found in the nearby park. It was used for entertainments, masques and theatrical productions - among the guests was William Shakespeare himself, whose plays were produced at the Palace. James's son Charles I spent time at the palace as both a king and a prisoner. He is noted for purchasing Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar and displaying them at the Palace in 1630, where they have remained ever since. After his execution the victorious Parliamentarians removed several of the Palace's treasures for sale, but when Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector he took Hampton Court for his own use. On the Restoration in 1660, Charles II made occasional use of the Palace, installing his mistress Barbara Villiers in lodgings here. The accession of William III and Mary II heralded dramatic changes to Hampton Court Palace. They commissioned Sir Christopher Wren - famous architect of St Paul's Cathedral - to completely demolish and rebuild the Palace. Luckily for posterity, neither the time nor the money was sufficient to allow this to happen. Instead, the king's and queen's apartments on the south and east sites of the Palace were rebuilt. Wren's architecture, Grinling Gibbons' carvings and Antonio Verrio's painted ceilings ensure that there is a striking contrast between this part of the Palace and the remaining Tudor buildings. The gardens were also transformed during this time. Neither Queen Anne nor George I left much impact on the palace, but George II and his wife Caroline - as both Prince and Princess and King and Queen - spent a great deal of time at Hampton Court. They oversaw the completion of the long-neglected Queen's Apartments, and had lodgings built for their second son the Duke of Cumberland. The royal family and royal court spent considerable time at the Palace. From the 1760s, Hampton Court Palace was used for a very different purpose. It was divided into lodgings, granted rent-free to tenants who had served the Crown or country. This went on until 1838, when the young Queen Victoria declared that the Palace should be opened to the public. For the next few years, Hampton Court was restored, a development which was fuelled by the interest of antiquarians and architects. Another wave of restoration followed towards the end of the century. The history of the Palace remained largely uneventful until a fire in 1986 - which some older readers may recall - severely damaged the King's Apartments. Repairs, and subsequent restorations, were largely completed in 1995. The King's Apartments had been restored and recreated, as far as possible, to their original form, while a similar process had been undertaken in the Queen's Apartments. Defined 'routes' through the Palace were implemented to improve visitor accessibility, and the Privy Garden was replanted to its 17th-century design. Conservation, restoration, and even - on occasion - new building work continue to this day. Staff at Hampton Court continue to explore ways to make a visit here more accessible, enjoyable and educational. ***Visiting Hampton Court Palace*** Hampton Court Palace can be seen as you cross the bridge after exiting the railway station. You go in through the driveway and purchase tickets from the building on your left. After that you are free to explore the Palace. Approaching the front of the building, you get your first taste of the grandeur you are about to experience. The Palace is certainly well situated. You are given a map when you buy your ticket, which is incredibly helpful considering the size and scale of the place. As with Kensington Palace, Hampton is divided into different areas or routes, which is handy for getting your bearings and planning your visit. My mam and I decided we would like to get audio guides (included in the price of your ticket) and these can be obtained from the centre of the Palace. This area also contains rails of velvet Tudor-style robes which can be borrowed: as we went round the Palace, we saw many people - both children and adults - with these on. I wanted to put some on, but my mam flatly refused, much to my disappointment! Before heading off on our adventure, we had a look at the small but detailed exhibition on the history of Hampton Court, which tells the story of the area from earliest known times to the present day. This exhibition contained a great deal of information, but was presented logically and in an easy to read format. This done, we headed off on our travels. *Henry VIII's Kitchens* We decided to begin at the kitchens, since we had passed the entrance to this section on our way to retrieve the audio guides. The kitchens were heavily used during Henry VIII's time to feed the huge number of guests he entertained at Hampton Court. They comprise a number of rooms, enormous roaring fires (one of which was lit on our visit, giving off a considerable amount of heat) and various utensils. Mam and I were amazed at the sheer size of everything, and as a non-meat eater I was somewhat freaked out by the giant roasting spits and the huge tub in which pie filling was cooked. I must say that, apart from the fact that they contained meat, the pies on display looked rather appetising - although as our audio guides told us, people at the time wouldn't actually have eaten the pastry, which simply acted as a cooking pot. The top would be removed, the contents eaten and the rest of the crust thrown away. What a waste! Our wanderings took us through the kitchens and out the other side, where liveried servants would be waiting to carry the piping hot food the short distance to the guests in the Great Hall. We passed a room in which accounts were kept - as you can imagine, feeding such a huge number of people required an incredible amount of organisation, and it was essential to keep track of what was available and what was needed. Finally, we ended up at the wine cellar. I liked this part! Beer was drunk by pretty much everyone during the Tudor period - the water was unsafe - but wine was reserved only for the wealthiest. Whereas the majority of Hampton Court Palace is concerned with the grand surroundings of royalty, the kitchens explored what it was like for the servants below stairs. They clearly had an extremely difficult job! *Young Henry VIII's Story* Continuing the Henry VIII theme, we headed for this section of the Palace, which concerned Henry's life as a young prince right up to his divorce from Katherine of Aragon. These rooms had comparatively modern surroundings, although they were basic enough not to look odd framed by the ancient stone walls. In each room, three wooden 'thrones' represented Henry, Katherine and Sir Thomas Wolsey, the three most powerful people in the land, and carried information about each individual and their role in state affairs. As you follow the story from room to room, you witness the fall from favour of both Katherine and Wolsey: the one demoted from her role as Queen and separated from her daughter, and the other forced to give up his titles and royal palaces (he died shortly afterwards). Henry was never meant to be king - that role was to have been taken by his elder brother Arthur, but Arthur died relatively young, leaving Henry as the next heir. This section of the exhibition did well in exploring the youthful Henry's exuberance, enthusiasm and successes, before he became the ungainly tyrant-King of later years. *Henry VIII's Apartments* We finished off our exploration of the Henrician age with a visit to Hampton Court's main draw - Henry VIII's Apartments. Our audio guides proved invaluable here, as they had done in the kitchens, in telling us about the rooms. They were magnificent, as befits a King's apartments - particularly the Great Hall (which I had seen from below earlier, on my tour of the kitchens). The tapestries - which were originals - were especially impressive and the pictures were fascinating to inspect. The chapel, too, was beautiful and ornate (you can go onto the top balcony from these apartments; the chapel itself can be entered from the corridor below, near Fountain Court). One of my favourite things about this part of the Palace was 'Henry VIII' himself! The King resided at Hampton Court later in his reign, after the fall of Wolsey, and actors portray an event from this period - the preparations for his marriage to Catherine Parr. This was his final marriage and Catherine actually survived him - a lucky escape considering Henry had divorced his first and fourth wives (the latter was 'too ugly' for Henry!), and had two others beheaded, not to mention Jane Seymour who died in childbirth. 'Henry' strides about the Palace at frequent intervals, heralded by courtiers crying "Make way for the King", and occasionally stopping to make a speech declaring how happy he is at the prospect of his forthcoming marriage. My mam found this a bit silly, but I thought it was highly entertaining! *William III's Apartments* The brightly-coloured apartments are in great contrast to the dark wood Tudor parts of the Palace. To get to them, you need to climb up a staircase - this is shallower than most, as it was designed for the asthmatic William. The rooms are in more or less a straight line, the majority containing thrones, though the last few contain beds. The rooms get grander and grander as you go along - they were designed so that less-important subjects could speak to the King in the first room, while only a select few had access to the more intimate bedchamber and adjacent throne room. These rooms reminded me of Buckingham Palace in their formal layout, although the finishings and furniture were less ostentatious. It was interesting to see another side to William's character, after seeing the King's Apartments in Kensington Palace, where he also spent time. *Mary II's Apartments* Though these apartments were begun during the reign of Mary, her sudden death called a halt to building work and they were not finally completed until the reign of George II and his wife Caroline. When my mam and I visited, there was a temporary exhibition on display entitled "The Beautiful and the Damned". This consisted of paintings of court beauties in the reign of Charles II, and featured several scantily-clad ladies draped over armchairs, usually mistresses of the King or other men of note. My mam and I did notice that ideas of beauty have changed considerably over the centuries: with a few exceptions, neither of us would have called these women 'beautiful', but I guess that's a good thing - there's hope for us all! The exhibition was interesting and provided something a bit different to look at. *Georgian Private Apartments* These apartments were built by George II for his second son, the Duke of Cumberland. They have a strong Georgian feel to them, and seem much more private and homely than the other parts of the Palace. They provided an interesting contrast to the grandeur on display elsewhere. *Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar* We didn't have enough time to see these, but they are paintings, held in the Palace since the reign of Charles I. *Palace Gardens* Again, we didn't have enough time to wander around the gardens. However, I spent some time in the gardens on my previous visit, and they were beautifully landscaped and very pleasant to spend time in. I must say though that I much prefer houses to gardens when visiting places like this, so I wasn't overly disappointed at not being able to have more of a wander around. One of the cafes at Hampton Court is beside the gardens, and they also offer the best view of the Baroque side of the Palace, so it's worth popping out for a few minutes. *Maze* Much to my disappointment, we hadn't time to visit the maze either. However, last time I visited - with a group of friends - we DID go in the maze and it was great fun. It isn't huge like the maze at Longleat, but it's big enough to get lost in once or twice, although we did eventually manage to reach the centre. I do recommend leaving enough time to have a go, as it is really enjoyable - particularly if you have children. ***Gift Shop*** The Palace has a number of gift shops, including a general shop near the entrance and a smaller shop near Henry VIII's Kitchens which stocks several items of a historic culinary nature. The main shop has the usual range of souvenirs and tat as well as some genuinely nice items. Some of the items are part of the general Historic Royal Palaces range, but many are tailored to the individual site: for example, medieval-themed souvenirs were available here but not at Kensington Palace, which I had visited previously, while reproduction Victorian jewellery was found at Kensington but not at Hampton. ***Food and Drink*** There are three eateries open for visitors: the Tiltyard Café, the Snug and the Privy Kitchen. My mam and I had a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake in the Privy Kitchen, which used to be the kitchens used by Elizabeth I and strongly resembled Henry's kitchens that we visited earlier in the day. An interesting assortment of refreshments was available, and I was half sorry that we had brought our own sandwiches, as the hot meals looked delicious. In any case, our cake was lovely. Prices were average - not cheap (I have never encountered any café within a heritage site in which they were), but not excessively expensive. ***Accessibility*** Hampton Court is massive - as the website states, if you see all the interiors and a bit of the gardens you will travel over 2 miles. Disabled car parking spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis and parking is free for Blue Badge holders. There are several accessible toilet facilities across the site and while visitors with disabilities pay the standard admission charge, an accompanying carer or assistant will receive free entry. Service dogs are also welcome. A limited number of manual wheelchairs and single-person scooters (for use in the gardens only) are available on a first-come, first-served basis. British Sign Language tours take place within the Palace, and a number of downloadable resources are available from the Hampton Court Palace website, including a guide for parents of children on the autistic spectrum. ***Conclusions*** My mam and I both had an amazing day at Hampton Court Palace. Whereas my mam was disappointed with Kensington Palace, she thoroughly enjoyed Hampton Court. I certainly feel that the entrance fee is better value for money: while it costs a few pounds more to get into Hampton Court, not to mention the cost of travelling from central London by train, you get a great deal more for your money. If you make the most of everything the Palace has to offer, you could easily spend an entire day here, or even more if you want to spend a lot of time in the gardens. If you live in London and think you might visit again I would strongly recommend the Historical Royal Palaces membership, which gives you free entry to Hampton Court plus the other four palaces for a year - you could easily get a lot out of this. Alternatively, if you have a Tesco Clubcard, the Days Out tokens are worth exchanging Clubcard points for. If you are thinking about visiting, or can't visit for whatever reason but still want to find out more about the Palace, I highly recommend the website (address given below) which is rich in detailed information about the history of the Palace, what you can see there, current and forthcoming exhibitions, concerts which take place in the grounds, and more. ***Contact Details*** http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace email@example.com East Molesey Surrey KT8 9AU Tel: +44 (0)20 3166 6000 ***Historic Royal Palaces*** Membership of Historic Royal Palaces, costing from £43, gives you free entry to all five included palaces. The other four are Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, the Tower of London and the Banqueting House. www.hrp.org.uk Twitter: @hrp_palaces Facebook: Historic Royal Palaces
Hampton Court Palace has to be my favourite place to visit; we have been there countless times. Driving there is simple, exit the M25 at J13 towards Heathrow T4 and follow the signs to Hampton court. The parking is very reasonable, I think we paid about £6.00 for the day and is right in the palace grounds. The train is also a simple by taking south west trains from Vauxhall rail station to Hampton Court Rail station, the palace is just over the bridge, and you can't miss the magnificent red Tudor palace across the river. You buy your tickets just after the gates before you reach the palace; although you can purchase them online at a reduced price. The address is: Hampton Court, East Molesey Surrey. KT8 9AU. Tel: 0844 482 7777 The prices for the Palace and the maze for 31st october2011-24th March 2012 are: Adult; 15.95 Child: 8.00 Concession 13.20 Family ticket (two adults and up to 6 kids); 43.46 Under 5s are free and an essential carer is admitted free with a paying disabled visitor. Please be aware that this is an old building, therefore access is limited to some areas of the palace. There are plenty of toilet and baby changing facilities all of which are of high standard and very clean. Prices include a voluntary donation. You can pay just to go in the maze and not the palace for: Adult; 3.85 Child: 2.75 Family ticket (two adults and up to 6 kids); 11.00 Under 5s are free. No concessions available unfortunately. We have used our Tesco vouchers for entry on many occasions. The opening times for 31st october2011-24th March 2012 are: Monday-Sunday 10am-16.30 Last entry is 15.30 Last entry to maze is 15.45. Summer opening is 10am-6pm Last entry 5pm Last entry to maze 17.15 Formal gardens is summer: 10am-7pm All other times 10am-5.30pm Informal gardens summer 7am-8pm All other times 7am-6pm Palace, maze and tiltyard cafe close earlier. This palace is truly magnificent with an eclectic mix of historical eras. From its origins with Cardinal Wolsey and Henry viii kitchens to the beautiful Georgian paintings and rooms every part of this palace oozes history. Well worth a viewing are the magnificent Henry viii tapestries and the Tudor kitchens. They often have special cookery events where re-enactors cook Tudor style...the sights and sounds of history come alive. They have re-enactors playing out little acts around the palace and visitors are encouraged to take part, which made my sons day. My son learned loads from the palace and meeting Henry viii was amazing for him, he had a long conversation and it made my son feel hugely important. He has also had the opportunity to meet Catherine Parr and he has also been included in some re-enactments with Catherine Howard and Lady Rochester. The palace is great at interactive learning and especially including children in the whole atmosphere. Whenever you ask my son where he wants to go, he will always say Hampton court Palace. Although in my opinion the most amazing part of the palace is the chapel, it is elaborately decorated in blue and gold, the atmosphere is electric, to think that Henry himself stood and looked at this very chapel and even married here. The maze is not as large as you would expect but still entertained my kids for an hour and they both wanted to go back again before we left for home. At the centre of the maze is a little seating area and a sign saying that you made it to the centre which is a perfect photo opportunity. If you like in the summer you can take a horse and carriage ride around the grounds for an additional charge, the horses were huge black beautiful beasts. Along with the trip around the ground you get a lovely commentary from one of the grooms. Every year there is a different part of Henry viii life being re-enacted. They have re-enacted the marriage of Henry viii and Catherine Parr and also Catherine's Howards first Christmas as queen at the palace. History truly comes alive. When you say Hampton Court Palace, what immediately comes to mind are the iconic red Tudor buildings commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey and that eventually became one of Henry viii majestic palaces! However this palace is so much more, looking from the rear the palace looks entirely different; it becomes an incredible Georgian palace. The gardens are amazing and make a wonderful place for picnics in the summer; and a lovely place for little ones to exert some energy amongst the topiary trees. If you would rather eat there, there are two main restaurants and we have eaten in both. There is the Tiltyard cafe, which has both cold and hot food, from sandwiches to pie and chips. The prices for main meals are 4.50 for children and for adults the prices range from 4.50 for soup and a roll to 9.95 for a carvery. We had a pie and chips and decided not to add vegetables as an extra side cost 2.50 and I refuse to that for a few carrots. However the food was lovely and very filling. We paid around eight pound each for a meal and then drinks on top. For two adult and a child to eat cost about £30.00 (my youngest just had a milkshake and some food from each of our plates because he would not have managed a full child's meal), the prices are reasonable for the quality of the food but finding a table does prove a challenge as the cafe has always been very busy when we have been there. The other cafe tried is the Privy Kitchen which is less formal. Serving tea, coffee and a selection of sandwiches and cakes, you eat in a hall at large oak table, very Tudor. Coffee for about 2.00, this again is a good price. There are numerous shops selling many souvenirs and replica historical items, which I think are wonderful. Again the historical royal palaces really know how to bring history alive. It have given my oldest a real enthusiasm for history. A highly recommended day out, although one visit will never be enough. You will never see it all in one day. Review summary for the review "The best palace by far!" An amazing palace jam packed with history and amazing gardens. Great for young and old and a place you must visit.
Hampton Court Palace is one of those places that I had been meaning to visit for years but the opportunity had just never arisen. However having visitors over the late summer Bank Holiday weekend (yes, it really was supposed to be summer!) made me hunt for somewhere to visit and I remembered Hampton Court. ===Getting There=== I had always glanced at the atlas and seen Hampton Court within the M25 and assumed it would be difficult to get to. In fact it is remarkably easy to find, we followed the M25 around to the M3 and then followed the brown and white tourist signs. The only problem we had was trying to work out where to park, the signs seemed to point in several directions, and I presume one car park is for the gardens only so we turned right at the final roundabout and headed toward the parking for the palace. The entrance to the car park is extremely narrow and between two walls, my 4x4 fitted snuggly but if we had decided to travel in my in-laws camper van instead we would have had to investigate the other car parks as it would not have made the turning. I was surprised to see that the car park was pay for exit, although I had read the website I hadn't noticed this and have just had a look again and the information is there but it is not very obvious. The car park was quite small; I presume the other parking area is larger. We stayed from about 10.00 until 3.00 and paid £5. When we left at the end of the day we were using my father-in-laws Sat nav which tried very hard to turn us into the Thames and then wanted us to do u-turns and right-turns where they were strictly prohibited so getting out of Richmond was definitely trickier than getting in! ===Tickets=== I used Tesco reward vouchers to pay for most of our entry but I didn't think the prices were too expensive. Our party consisted of two adults, two OAPs, one student and one child (14) and it came to less than £80 which is not bad considering how much some national Trust places charge. It is also good to see child's prices up to under 16s as I get fed up paying adult prices for my son. Children under 5 go in free. Discounts were available if you purchased online (but then I couldn't use my Tesco vouchers) and there were also family tickets. The ticket I purchased was for the palace, the maze and the gardens but it also seemed possible to buy a gardens or a maze ticket separately. All ticket price information is available at http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/hamptoncourtadmission.aspx ===The Palace=== From the ticket office we walked down the main entrance drive which gave a great first impression of the property. I am not a history buff but I loved the idea of so much history on one site. I had watched a television programme about the palace fairly recently and was aware that it started it ascent into grandeur under the tenancy of Cardinal Wolsey in the early 1500s followed by Henry VIII who extended the property adding a tennis courts, pleasure gardens and enormous kitchens in the mid-1500s. Henrys children then changed Hampton Court very little and it wasn't until the reign of William III and Queen Mary II in the late 1600s when the palace saw more changes. They had their architect change the magnificent Tudor towers for a more baroque style frontage that can be seen at the back of the palace. We entered under the famous archway and immediately took a sharp left to visit the huge kitchens that Henry had built. An enormous fire was raging in one of the grates and there were lots of pieces of kitchen equipment on show in the various rooms, although I believe they do offer cooking demonstrations there did not appear to be any on the day we visited. From the kitchens we walked into the vast wine cellar. We then passed into the Chapel Court Garden, this strange little square had several poles adorned with gilded animal statues but I wasn't quite sure what it was supposed to be. We entered another door and came upon the stunning, two-storey Chapel Royal. No cameras are allowed in the chapel and entrance is restricted on Sundays. The ceiling is magnificent with gold gilding on a blue background, I thought the whole place was beautiful and you could feel the 450 years of history that it held. The royal pew is upstairs so they could pray in private whilst being part of the service. We then found ourselves in the pretty fountain court which was obviously one of the baroque-style additions with a covered walkway around a square. From this courtyard we found our way back into part of the main body of the house and followed the various routes which took in separate sets of apartments. The various routes took us through William IIIs apartments, Mary IIs apartments, the Georgian Private Apartments and Henry VIIIs apartments. I was amazed by how much of the palace was open. So often I find that we visit these sorts of places and we see four rooms in 10 minutes and then have finished the visit but here we found ourselves wondering around inside for nearly two hours as there was so much to see. All of the apartments had a different feel and were decorated differently so you could get a real feel for the time in which they were used. We found all of the room attendants helpful and knowledgeable; one even opened a window fully for me so that I could get a better photograph of the lunar clock on the tower in the Clock court. Photography without a flash is allowed in all of the rooms but it was very hard to capture the wonderfully intricate paintings on the walls and ceilings. One of the most impressive parts of the palace for me was the Great Hall, this is the largest medieval hall in Britain and it is certainly awe-inspiring in its size. We also went to an exhibition entitled Young Henry VIIIs Story. This was an excellent way of introducing Henry as a young, handsome Royal and then following his story through his desperate quest for a strong male heir whilst hanging on to his royal title to produce the larger than life figure that we all know through his portraits and the story of his wives. ===The Gardens=== By the time we had finished in the Palace we headed back on a short walk to our car to collect a picnic. There appeared to be a couple of small places to eat on the site but picnics are very welcome and there were lots of areas near The Tiltyard and the Rose garden where you could stop and eat, either on their benches or on your own blanket on the grass. I felt this made a nice change rather than having to eat in the car in places where picnics are frowned up. There were also lots of litter bins so the place stayed looking tidy. We walked through the rose garden which was quite large but unfortunately late August is probably not its best time and it did look like a lot of dead-heading needed doing. We came upon the Maze and I was terribly disappointed by how small it was, I expected a huge maze but it was tiny and we were in and out within 5 minutes. We decided to head to the more formal gardens at the East side of the palace. These were beautifully laid out with gravel paths and hundreds of triangular shaped Yew trees. There was an impressive fountain and beautiful flower beds. We never made it to the 20th Century Garden which was slightly further from the house but is supposed to be very tranquil. The strikingly different facades of the East and West gates of the palace were most evident from the main garden and personally I prefer the Tudor redbrick style to the columns and paler façade of the baroque influence. Horse carriage rides are available outside the palace for an extra charge. The Royal tennis court was also open for viewing although there was a match on so it was quite difficult to get an idea of the size of the court from the viewing area. We then moved to The Knot Garden with more ornate flower beds and fountains, the size of all of these gardens were very impressive. The herbaceous border in the main garden was probably deeper than the whole of my back garden! By this time we seemed to have lost most of the crowds and we had a peaceful walk around the picturesque Pond gardens, you cannot go in but you have lovely views of the sunken gardens from the paths. Finally we went into the greenhouse to look at the Great Vine. This beast of a plant was in the Guinness Book of Records a few years ago for being the largest vine, it is really huge and was covered in dark bunches of grapes and these can be purchased in one of the palace shops. ===Other Information=== Hampton Court palace hosts a lot of entertainment to help people imagine life at the time. I am not a real fan of this sort of thing but it is particularly brilliant for young children who can appreciate history so much better if they see it for "real". On the day we visited there was lots going on including sword-fighting demonstrations, falconry and armour displays. We were given a leaflet of times and although we didn't go out of our way to watch any of these they certainly gave a great buzz to the atmosphere. Many people were wearing cloaks which I presumed you borrowed from the information centre (I think my teens would have died if I suggested they wore one!). We did however end up seeing one of the Fools shows which was much better than I expected and very funny, we also bumped into a young Henry VIII in the Great Hall and Ann Boleyn on a staircase who did a great job of staying in character. Audioguides are available in several languages including English. There were several shops dotted around but these were unobtrusive and amazingly didn't seem horrendously over-priced either. We used the Tiltyard café for refreshments just before we left and a large cup of tea was £1.50 which also seemed quite reasonable, especially considering that you are in the area of Richmond which is notoriously expensive. There were lots of stairs and gravel tracks so I am not sure how accessible the site is although I did notice a couple of discreet lifts tucked away in some of the buildings. ===Final Thoughts=== I am so pleased that I eventually made the effort to visit Hampton Court. We had a lovely time and all three generations of our family proclaimed the day a great success and we all felt we had increased our historical knowledge as well as having a pleasurable time. I would recommend a visit to anyone and my only regret is that I didn't take my children when they were younger as I think they would have loved the re-enactments and would have remembered lots ready for their school history lessons.
Hampton court Palace. A brief history of the building of the palace. The palace is situated in East Mosley to the West of London beside the river Thames. It most famously is associated with Henry VIII however its history can be traced back much further than that to around the 13th century. In those days it was much more rural and was in prime farming land and became a storage facility for the Knights Hospitaliers of St. John Jerusalem. In other words it was more of a storage barn for food produced locally. It was first turned into what is more a manor house by the Knights and used as a high class staging post. The first tenant was recorded as being Giles Daubaney in 1494 who was Lord Chamberlain to King Henry 7th and it was he who first stopped here with his Queen on a number of occasions. The manor was bought by Cardinal Wolsey on a 99 year lease who in turn turned it into one of the most ostentatious palaces of its time around the periphery of London. He was instrumental in the palace's current state adding on to the original manor house. After entering the magnificent main gate you are then standing in a large courtyard known as the base court. This was the first place that visitors and guests would arrive if they were visiting the palace. This court yard contains 44 guest rooms that were built surrounding perimeter walls which were some of the most comfortable ensuite guest rooms of the time. They came with built in toilets which would take any waste away straight into the nearby river Thames. They were comfortably furnished with good furniture and decorated with tapestries on the walls. Entering through another grand entrance you are taken into the Clock courtyard. On the rear of this large gateway there is a large astronomical clock at the top of the gateway. It shows the time and date, the phases of the moon and sun and star signs. This gateway is also known as Anne Boleyn's gate as the apartments above were being made for Anne Boleyn. This courtyard has a colonnaded passageway on the east side of the courtyard and on the West side there is the under croft above which is Great Hall which is reached via a set of stairs decorated with murals on the walls by Antonio Verio and a fresco on the ceiling. This stairway is known as the Kings stairway takes you up to Henry VIII'S apartments. Over the centuries following the death of Henry other Monarchs added to the palace notably King William and Queen Mary whose intention was to build onto the palace demolishing the Tudor part of the palace. Following their deaths Queen Anne continued with the restructuring of the Palace. Sir Christopher Wren also had a hand in the design of the Palace. The great hall is absolutely vast with a very high oak beamed ceiling, ornately carved and decorated. It took five years to complete with workmen working by candle light to finish such was the Kings impatience. Around the walls of the hall are stag heads and tapestries. Great feasts and entertainment would have taken place here. Henry would be sat on a dais which was a raised platform and great feasts and other meetings would take place in the Great Hall. The stained glass windows are quite magnificent and they have depictions of Henry VIII and Cardinal Wosley. The Kitchens. The kitchens were an essential part of the palace to feed the courts entourage of approximately 1000 people. There were approximately 600 staff in the palace that needed to be fed each day too. They are absolutely massive and built quite near to the Grand Hall. They are still used today to create Tudor feasts and banquets and there are regular displays going on throughout the year. The fire alone can create heat of over 1000C such was the need to have a large source of heat for cooking whole carcasses of meat which were placed on large spits and rotated. The job for some of the staff was unbearable in this heat and often the kitchen staff worked naked until Henry VIII banned the staff working in the nude. They had to protect themselves from the heat by wearing leather aprons which gave them some protection. They were given copious amounts of beer to replace the lost fluid from constant sweating in the kitchens. Catering for the vast numbers at Hampton court was a massive feat in itself and annually the shopping list included 1,240 Oxen, 2,330 deer, 1870 pigs, 8,200 sheep all washed down with 600,000 gallons of beer! The apartments added to the rear of the Palace were far more comfortable than the Tudor part of the palace. The apartments look out over the beautiful manicured gardens at the rear and to the side of the palace. There are various art works displayed throughout the palace and furniture some of which is original and some reproductions. The gardens are laid out in the style of the gardens of Versailles with beautiful parterres and then at the rear three avenues lined with trees which lead to a round fountain pond and then the Grand Canal similar to that at Versailles. There is a maze first planted in around 1690 and covers an area of a quarter of an acre with approximately half a mile of pathways to the centre of the Maze. It is still a popular attraction at the palace. The grounds and gardens are spectacular and it is a pleasant place to have a picnic or to sit under the shaded trees near the water. The palace is well visited by tourists and there are costumed tours and little playlets that are staged daily by actors and actresses dressed in period costumes. These are all included in your ticket. Throughout the year there are all kinds of activities going on including the Hampton court Festival and Hampton court flower show. There are concerts staged in the base court although they are constantly interrupted by the large planes taking off from the nearby Heathrow airport. During the winter months there is an ice rink at the front of the palace. The suggestion is that you spend two or three hours here but in order to take advantage of all that Hampton court has to offer. In fact you could spend a whole day here at least and still not have seen everything. One of the most surprising things is that you can also stay at the palace by booking through the Landmark trust. How fantastic would that be for a special and memorable occasion? They have two accommodations one sleeping up to six and the other up to eight people. This gives you access to the grounds and Palace even after members of the public have gone. Web site: http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/ How to get to Hampton Court. By train from London Waterloo station to Hampton Court Station which is just across the bridge from the palace. Only 35 minutes by train. By Road The address is as follows for those who have SatNav :- Hampton Court, East Molesey Surrey. KT8 9AU. Tel: 0844 482 7777 By Bus. There are several bus routes to Hampton court palace check out routes through Transport for London website. By river bus. You can catch a river bus to Hampton Court but this route could take up to four hours! Entrance prices. Adult £15.40 (Booked on line and the price is £13) Child. £7.70 ( Booked on line and the price is £6.50) Family ticket 2 adults and up to 6 Children £41.80 (£38 booked on line). You can also buy an annual pass for £41 which allows you unlimited entry to five London Palaces including Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Banqueting house, The Tower of London and Kew Palace which represents fantastic value. These prices also include a guided audio tour which is very helpful and tells you little snippets of information you would have missed. Would I recommend a visit to Hampton Court Palace? Yes without hesitation as it is historically and educationally very interesting. It is a great place for children and adults alike. The staff really have got their fingers on the button and are friendly welcoming and full of fascinating facts to pass on to you. There is a full programme of activities throughout the year. My recent visit here it was extremely cold around minus 1C and quite bitingly cold however in the summer months it is very pleasant. The palace is aesthetically very pleasing on the eye from an architectural perspective and it has so much to offer the visitor and it is a great day out. There is a very useful website which is full of information about the facilities how to get there and what activities are taking place throughout the year. It also has the other royal palaces on this website too. It is as follows: http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/
I love history, and since junior school one of my favourite historical characters has to be Henry the VIII. He's always seemed an enthralling (if slight mad) character, and one who massively changed the course of English history. So I was quite excited to be able to visit the London home of this most extraordinary of Kings - the famous Hampton Court Palace. A Little History The layout of Hampton Court Palace can be divided into two primary styles. The older part of the palace is the Tudor section, completed in 1525 for the then archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Wolsey. Wolsey was a great favourite of King Henry the VIII, explaining how he was able to build such a magnificent and decadent house: but as we all know, Henry VIII was not the most temporally consistent of gentlemen in terms of mood, and when Wolsey later fell from grace Hampton Court fell into the hands of the King. The subsequent Tudor monarchs, but particularly Henry VIII, engaged in a process of expansion so that the palace was able to accommodate the whole of court, with additions including the Great Hall and the impressive kitchen network. The Palace then acted as background to some important events of the Tudor period - the birth of Henry VIII only son Edward and the following death of his wife Jane Seymour, the arrest of Henry's fifth wife Catherine Howard for adultery, and the honeymoon of Mary I after her politically motivated marriage to Philip II of Spain. Sadly Mary's union was not fated to result in any children, and with her sister Elizabeth remaining unmarried and childless Hampton Court Palace fell into the hands of the Stuart monarchy. The palace was used James I for meeting with religious leaders, and was a luxurious prison for Charles I prior to his execution: but the second heyday of Hampton Court came in the period of the joint reign of Mary II and William of Orange. Although still a sprawling giant of mansion, by this time Hampton Court Palace was seen as being old fashioned, and so a massive building project was begun with the help of architects such as Christopher Wren and with the palace of Versailles as an inspiration. Sadly at this time a large part of the Tudor palace was lost. The extension may have been even more dramatic, had it not been for Queen Mary's death from smallpox in 1694. At this point, a distraught William lost interest in grand plans, although smaller scale redecorations continued during the residence of Queen Anne and Kings George I and George II. George II was the final British monarch to live at Hampton Court. From the point where he and his wife vacated the palace, the structure has remained largely unchanged up to the present day. Inside the House We came to Hampton Court with six hours to spare, knowing this to be normally more than enough to explore a stately home. This shows how little we understood of this extraordinary construction. To examine everything properly would probably need a good couple of days. With this in mind, I just give a brief description of the areas we visited - Henry VIII's quarters, Queen Mary II's state rooms, William II's state rooms and the Tudor kitchens. We were unable to see the Triumphs of Caesar, painted by Magneta, or the exhibitions on Thomas Wolsey or the childhood of Henry VIII. The first area we visited was the apartments of Henry VIII, which is a pretty show stopping beginning. From the stairs you walk straight into the Great Hall, which is where meals would have been served to several hundred Tudor courtiers and where large events where held. You then walk into the Great Watching Chamber and through into Henry VIII's own apartments, including a walking gallery and the old council room. This is an impressive and intriguing section of the house, with intricately carved ceilings and walls covered in ancient, faded tapestries. It is decadent, but you can still feel the age. There are also some impressive interactive features, such as providing replica musical instruments in the watching chamber that you can have a go at and a film of four men in the council chamber acting out debates that may have occurred there. There are also reconstructions staged in the house - a little surreal, really, as every now and then Henry VIII or Catherine Parr wanders past you. The darker apartments of Henry VIII are in stark contrast to those of William and Mary, where everything seems to be about light and large windows - although this may simply be because the fittings are newer and less faded. There is a lot of really interesting art work on the walls in this part of the house, especially the paintings on the walls of the one of the major staircases. Another brilliant room is the Guardroom, which has been decorated using over 1000 items of weaponry from the Stuart era and makes a very impressive display. The final indoor section we visited was the Tudor kitchens, which is one of the largest if not the largest set of Tudor kitchens anywhere. It is the scale that makes them so impressive - the facilities of these kitchens would have served a household over a thousand strong, so there are stew pans you could lie down in, huge furnaces, spits to roast whole pigs and so on. Hampton Court also hosts a cookery research project to look at how the kitchens would have functioned when fully working. Luckily for us, one of the volunteers was on hand and told us some really interesting stories about the food that would have been cooked there and who would have cooked it. Visitors have two ways of getting information about what they are seeing, either by reading the displays or by getting one of the audio guides included in the ticket price. We chose to stick to reading, but a friend who opted for the audio guide informs me that it does the job equally well. Outside the House I should confess at this point that we did not attempt Hampton Court's famous maze, on the reasoning that given my sense of direction we might well never get out again! Still, the gardens have plenty to offer even if you don't fancy getting hopefully lost! Particular mention should go to the Great Vine, the world's largest single vine which was planted in the 1700s and now covers an entire greenhouse. Although the roses were largely over, you could see how beautiful the garden would be when in full bloom: and the sunken gardens planted where the ponds used to be are absolutely stunning. There are plenty of nice easy walks that visitors can undertake, either through the 'wilderness' area with its many scattered, ancient trees, or through the carefully laid out formal gardens. As far as I could see pathways were generally accessible to wheelchair users and those with prams. While in the garden visitors should track down the real tennis court. This completely incomprehensible game is the forbear of modern lawn tennis and looks on the surface like a mixture of tennis and squash. You can either use the notice boards to try and translate the rules (you may be there a while) or just watch the members of the Real Tennis Association who still use the court. Other facilities There are toilet facilities dotted all over the site, although they can sometimes be a challenge to find and the maps aren't entirely helpful. However, facilities were at least clean and tidy and there were enough that the hundreds of visitors didn't end up queuing. In terms of food, the main cafe is the Tiltyard Cafe, which is where we chose buy lunch. The food here was of decent quality, but the pricing was classic London (a fiver for a sandwich and so on) and the layout very confusing, so you ended up with people carrying trays and confusedly wandering in all directions trying to work out how to queue for the till. There is also a small coffee shop near to the Tudor kitchens, and in good weather there are ice cream tarts towed around by exhausted looking cyclists (who, although looking very cute, sometimes have trouble when cornering). Pricing An adult ticket for Hampton Court will set you back a relatively reasonable £14.00, while concessions (including students) cost £11.50 and children are £7. You can save money by buying online or as a group, or families can buy a £38.00 family ticket. How to get there Driving in central London is obviously not the world's most enticing prospect, but for those willing to brave the traffic there are good parking facilities both at the palace itself and five minutes walk away across part of the old Hampton Court grounds. Alternatively, you can grab yourself a tube map and get to Hampton Court tube station, which I'm told is about five minutes from the house itself. Recommendation Hampton Court is, undoubtedly, amazing. The architecture, the history, the presentation and information provided, all are absolutely brilliant. You could waste multiple days here just wandering in the grounds or exploring the fabulous apartments, and you could not fail to be impressed. The only reason why I can't give Hampton Court five stars is that this is very much stately home as museum. Those who've visited a lot of stately homes will understand what I mean when I say that in many of them you can almost feel that the home is still lived in - that the Lord or Lady of the manor might wander by at any moment, or that someone really is in the middle of the library book that has been left on the table. But at Hampton Court many of the rooms were unfurnished, or used to show historical artefacts which were certainly interesting but which would have looked very different when William, for example, were still in residence. Perhaps it's a personal preference thing - although I love learning history, I also like a historical house to fire my imagination. In this respect Hampton Court just didn't measure up to places like Cragside or Alnwick Castle. For that reason, I give Hampton Court Palace four very impressed Dooyoo stars. Thanks for reading :) Written only for Dooyoo
Hampden Court Palace, a tale of two palace's, two era's and a world of history. Getting there HCP is easily accessible being a very short (5 mins max) from Hampden Court station which is a short hop from waterloo, various other bus journeys can be used and there is also car parking. Theme Unlike some of the more modern lived in palaces (e.g. Buckingham) HCP throws you back into the real history of the royals. The palace visible as you walk up the drive is only half the story though as the 1400's palace inhabited by Henry VIII was rebuilt (major additions) in the late 1600's with much baroque influenced architecture. In addition to these two palaces are the beautiful gardens so a visit to HCP is a great Triple Whammy in one. What's on offer? For the reasonable price of £14 (£13 if purchased online in advance) you gain entry to the palace and gardens, access to all the exhibitions and free audio guide. The main tour leads you a true behind the scenes journey through the working of the Tudor palace, from the kitchens, to dining, money keeping and accounting to the tudor staterooms and hall of mistresses. The impressive chapel shows the distinction between royals and staff and the tapestry's adorning the walls show the effort and time put in by the 'common man' at royal request. Amazing for the time. You then move on to the new baroque 'white' palace, built to the side of the main courtyard and much more picturesque. The extravagant rooms and expensive portraits gives a much more personal journey through the lives of the royal residents and the scandals effecting their lives. The gardens are delightful and the largest grapevine in the world is an impressive side show in the greenhouse. In all you could quite easily spend 4-5 hours strolling around HCP and the audio guides do their best to give your visit some direction. One note of caution is to make sure you are wrapped up warm or it's a sunny day as it's mostly outside of unheated (being a C15th Palace what do you expect). The history is compelling, the exhibitions enticing and the live actors add to a fantastic all round atmosphere that will have you thinking you have gone back to the times themselves.
During the summer we were down visiting friends in Windsor and they suggested on a lovely sunny day that we visit Hampton Court Palace, I vaguely remembered visiting the Palace as part of a school trip and getting lost in the maze so was keen to revisit and see what I could recall. Built by Cardinal Wolsey originally and developed by Henry VIII it is a super example of the Tudor age architecture and a fascinating place to visit. It is not the cheapest place to visit, we stayed for about five hours and the parking worked out at £7 whch is not cheap. Add to that the cost of entry which was £14 and it starts to add up, children under 16 pay £7 but for us four adults we had soon paid out over £60. Once in though there are no extras as you have entry to the maze, gardens and the house. Personally I enjoyed the gardens more than I did the house, I found it a little tacky that they had sort of street entertainers dressed up re-enacting a Tudor wedding and other scenes, especially as it was a bit amature dramatics in the way it was delivered however having said that some of the children in the queue seemed to find it interesting and at least it passed the time. The house itself is quite interesting but after a while I sort of got a bit bored and found it rather repetitive at times. The gardens are quite stunning and would take a few days to fully explore, you cannot miss out on the maze, it was smaller than I remembered it, or maybe I just got bigger and it was still a challenge to navigate in to the centre and back again. There is a cafe in the grounds but this was pricey and we opted to delay eating in favour of a late lunch, early dinner once we had finished with our visit. It is worth a visit but you may want to check out if you ca buy entry tickets using Tesco clubcard vouchers as if available that will bring down the cost, eiter way on a nice sunny day the gardens are excellent and the house does have some interesting features.
Last weekend I had a friend visiting from Holland and so decided to show her a bit of culture from this wonderful country of ours. I had wanted to go to Hampton Court for a while and now seemed like a perfect time. Hampton Court is a Royal Palace known for its most famous resident Henry 8th. It was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514; and later, as Wolsey fell from favour, the palace was passed to the King, who enlarged it. It is a Tudor style palace. The following century the palace was occupied by William and Mary. I have to admit that I was most interested in the Tudor period with Henry 8th. There is so much history in this building including various deaths of his many wives and rumoured hauntings. Hampton Court is located next to the River Thames in the South West of London (Surrey). We reached it by motorway and I have to say it was very easy to find, there are big brown signs on the motorway telling you where to get off and then good directions once you are on the streets. On their website they say that parking is limited but we managed to find a space at Hampton Court about an hour after it actually opened. It was £3.50 for the first hour and then 50p every hour after that which was not too bad. Once you come out of the car park you go to the ticket office to purchase your tickets. An adult ticket was £14, students and seniors £11.50, children under 16 are £7 and then there are various family tickets available too. This includes a visit to the house as well as entrance to the gardens and the famous maze. When you first enter Hampton Court you are in a big cobbled courtyard where I recommend just taking a few minutes to look around at the splendor of the Palace. When we were standing outside various employees dressed us as characters from this period came and kept us entertained which I think was great. They were actually recreating the wedding day of Henry the Eight and his sixth wife, Katheryn Parr. I thought this was a really great aspect of the day. All throughout the day there were different things going on to do with the wedding and at various locations around the Palace so you could see lots of different reenactments. I learnt a lot about Henry 8th's history through this by just listening for a few minutes at a time and of course it was made even more special by the fact that these things took place in the very spots where we were standing. We had lunch at the Tiltyard Café inside the palace. They had a great selection of both hot and cold food, cakes and drinks etc and although it was quite expensive (about £20 for two for lunch) it was good and I knew from the beginning that we were a captive audience and expected the prices to be quite high. There were plenty of tables so it could accommodate a lot of people and as it was a nice day we actually sat outside which was lovely and took advantage of the beautiful grounds, flowers and lawns. There are lots of different things to see around the palace to keep you entertained so you really need a whole day here. There is a free audio tour which you can pick up once you have entered the palace but unfortunately we did not get on with it too well. You had to press lots of complicated numbers into the headset and you were never sure if you were in the right place or not so we gave up after a while of using them. The Tudor kitchens were very interesting, vast and at various times you can see demonstrations from here. I definitely recommend a visit to the Chapel Royal as well. This has an absolutely beautiful ceiling and is still used for services today. The gardens are an absolutely beautiful part of the palace experience. They are absolutely huge (about 60 acres) and so beautifully taken care of. Of course, the maze is a very famous tourist attraction here at the palace. Like I've said above your entry ticket will provide you with access to the maze but you can just go here if you wish and not the actual house for a £3.50 fee. According to an article I read, it was planted sometime between 1689 and 1695 by George London and Henry Wise for William III of Orange at Hampton Court Palace. The maze covers a third of an acre and contains half a mile of paths. It is made out of hedges which are probably over 6/7 feet tall as I could not see over them. The aim is to basically find the centre of the maze and then find your way out. Now, I had heard that if you always turn left when confronted with a direction decision you will solve the maze but we put this theory to the test and unfortunately it does not work. In my opinion Hampton Court was a great day out, perfect for kids as they have so many different exhibitions, steeped with history and a very important part of our country that is well worth a visit.
On Saturday 1st August, I went to Hampton Court Palace. I have never been before and it is somewhere I have been very interested in visiting. This is mainly because I love history, monarchs, especially Henry VIII and architecture. What better place to visit than Henry's house (or one of them) in the lovely area of Surrey. I must admit my ammunition after all this time to finally go was after watching channel 4's Henry - Mind of a Tyrant and a Time Team special on Henry/Hampton Court Palace. The Location ----------------- Hampton Court Palace is located in Surrey, on the banks of the River Thames. It is within the M25 and not far from the start of M3 and the M4. There are brown attraction signs located from the M25 signposted throughout the route to Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court Palace East Molesey Surrey KT8 9AU Parking ---------- There is 2 pay and display car parks outside the grounds, within walking distance. Parking costs approximately £0.80 per hour. You must display your ticket in the car in view. There are 2 car parks within the grounds too. The Green car park costs £0.50 per hour. The Palace car park costs £3.50 for the first 3 hours and then £0.50 per hour after. Price ------ Adult: £14.00 or £13.00 online in advance. Adult Group 15+: £12.60 (each person) Children under 16 (over 5): £7.00 or £6.50 online in advance. Children under 5: Go Free Concessions (students and over 60's): £11.50 or £10.50 online in advance. Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children): £38.00 or £35.00 online in advance. Hampton Court Palace --------------------------- Hampton Court Palace offers a lovely historical setting, inside you can see: Henry VIII Apartments/Accommodations. Henry VIII Great Hall (The oldest theatre and greatest medieval hall in England today). Henry VIII: Head and Hearts - watch and be part of the wedding of Henry and sixth wife Kateryn Parr. Henry VIII Kitchens and Tudor cooking. Young Henry VIII Exhibition. Henry's Women Exhibition (this is the reason we went on 1st August, as it closed on the 2nd August and I wanted to see it). The Gardens and the Maze. The Royal Chapel. and more. Food and Drink -------------------- The Privy Kitchen coffee shop - originally Elizabeth I's private kitchen it is now open to the public offering hot and cold drinks, cakes and pastries, sandwiches and light lunches. There is also a children's menu. Tiltyard café - originally used by Henry VIII for jousting, it is a large, space with a large choice of food and drink. All food is homemade and changes seasonally. You do not need to buy admission to the palace in order to visit the Tiltyard café. What I Thought! --------------------- Overall Hampton Court Palace is a grand old house located in a picturesque setting on the bank of the River Thames, I really liked the setting and could see why it's popular and can understand why it is such an in demand wedding venue. We walked around Henry's apartments, and they are quite eerie, everything is set out like he could still live there, although it does feel like a museum. We also made the mistake of going to the other apartments thinking they were Henry's but in fact they were William III's Apartments, much to our immediate confusion. Admittedly they were a lot quieter than Henry's. The biggest reason we went the weekend we did was due to the exhibition of Henry's Women. We soon found where this was, and had to join a queue to enter the exhibit. I must admit the biggest disappointment was the exhibit itself, we entered after a half an hour wait to discover one small room with 6 cabinets in, one for each wife, it gave a brief history of what date Henry and that wife met, married and when they parted ways and by what means. We had queued for half an hour to walk round a room no bigger than my bedroom to read information that is freely available on the internet or in history books. I was thoroughly disappointed. The Young Henry exhibition was good; it was spread out over many rooms, with snippets of information on placks, projected on the walls and on chairs that were throne imitations. I found this really interesting and although I'd seen Henry: The Mind of a Tyrant on TV, I still learned more and really got a feel for Young Henry. The maze was included in our ticket, but if you didn't pay to go inside you had to pay for the maze separately, £3.50. The maze was relatively small; it used to be a lot bigger according to the information, which was quite disappointing as I was expecting something like the one in Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps that's my over active imaginations fault. I enjoyed the day out, and it was good because the sun was out, and a lot of it walk ways and paths are outside, we also got to wander around the gardens and enjoy the gorgeous plants and colours. This is a nice day out; I just wouldn't get too excited about exhibitions and treat it more like an experience. I am pretty sure you can find 99% of the information out via other means, but it is nice to visit Henry's house!
A few weeks ago my husband and I decided to visit Hampton Court Palace as we are very interested in Henry VIII and know that they have exhibitions focussing on him. To start off with let me explain that I love all things Royal and one of my favourite things to do is visiting castles and Palaces. (I suppose that Royalty is a bit of a novelty for me as I grew up in South Africa and always admired the British Royal family from afar). I can generally say that Hampton Court Palace did not impress me very much. There are lovely parts that I will be mentioning, but generally it has a 'worn' and empty look about it and rather a lot of cobwebs hanging about. Its proximity to London makes Hampton Court very easy to get to. You can take a train from Waterloo or a river boat from Westminster during the summer months (the river boat is on my to-do list). Hampton Court Palace is only a couple of minutes walk from the rather dismal-looking train station. Buying tickets (£14 per adult) was very easy as they have plenty of cashiers and the ticket hall is situated in a separate building close to the entrance gates. Once inside you have the option of taking a guided tour (we did not do this as there were hoards of people) or get an audio tour which is free of charge. Hampton Court Palace itself was built in 1514 by Cardinal Wolsey as his country house. In 1528 the Hampton Court was passed over to King Henry VIII, who extended the Palace considerably. The audio tour guides you through sections of the palace describing various historical people and events. I found that, compared to other palaces that I have visited, the rooms were rather empty of furniture. Here and there are magnificent pieces, but generally emptiness pervades this once royal abode. I have also mentioned that the palace is not very clean and there are plenty of cobwebs to be seen. The part of the palace which is very well preserved and maintained is the kitchens. It is fascinating to walk through the various rooms and see what sort of food was eaten by Henry III and his court. Apparently Hampton Court's food historians regularly host Medieval Cooking Days where the public can see food of that period being prepared (and I dare say take part in the preparation and cooking). The huge gardens are also well cared for and worth a visit. You can pay extra to have a ride around the gardens in a horse-drawn wagon. This would be a lovely place for a picnic, or alternatively you can tuck into some scrumptious food at the restaurant. There is one exhibition that I would like to complain about: Henry's women. Visitors stand in a queue for up to an hour to be allowed into the small room containing the exhibition about the 6 wives of Henry VIII. It is not worth the wait! Only a small area is dedicated to each of the women and very little information is actually given about each. As the room is so small the number of people let in at a time is restricted, hence the long queue! Things worth seeing: The magnificent gardens The fascinating Tudor kitchens Chapel Royal Astronomical Clock The unbelievable chimneys all over the palace I did not see any displays or exhibitions aimed at children, apart from the fact that both adults and children can get a 'gown' to wear for the duration of the visit to get into the 'Tudor mood'.
I've wanted to visit Hampton Court for absolutely ages, it's been on my "list of things to do" for about five years now. Finally, after much delay, I achieved my goal on the May bank holiday. History Hampton Court is probably best known as Henry VIII's royal palace, but in fact it was built by Cardinal Wolsey, Henry's right hand man. Since Henry seized it from Wolsey (sorry, was given it by Wolsey...) it has been extensively modified by various monarchs from Elizabeth I through William and Mary and Queen Anne. Various grace and favour apartments were established in the buildings in the early 1800s, which led to further changes in layout and use, and although these apartments are no longer allocated to people there are still a few people living there. A new exhibition at the palace when we visited allowed us to view one of these apartments, and see how they were accessed and so on. It was interesting to see, and I had no idea that so many people - and such a wide variety - lived in those circumstances. Getting there We are lucky, living in south London, to be able to reach Hampton Court in just 20 minutes by car - parking costs £3.50 on the palace grounds, and slightly less at the nearby alternative car parks. To get there by train would take us about an hour - there are trains to Hampton Court station from London Waterloo via Clapham Junction that take just over 30 minutes to get there. Unless you have an A-Z and a good navigator or know the route, I'd advise against travelling by car as the traffic is frequently fairly awful, especially if there's racing on at Kempton Park, which is just up the road - worth checking before you set off. Getting in As I mentioned, we chose to park at the palace, and to my surprise we had our choice of parking spaces. We were there fairly early, admittedly, but I was expecting it to be much busier on a bank holiday than it seemed to be. The carpark filled up later in the morning, but there seemed to be spaces available for everyone who wanted them. Despite fairly extensive building work taking place around the edge of the carpark, finding the ticket office was easy enough, and there were plenty of signs pointing the way. The ticket office was doing a brisk business, but we only had to wait for a minute or so before we could get our tickets. The only problem I had with it was that the entrance and exit to the office were up the same short flight of stairs. As these were rather narrow, there was a bit of to and fro as people could only go in or out, not both at the same time. I would imagine that on busy days this would get rather irritating and mean that the ticket office got crowded quite quickly. From the ticket office, it's just a short walk up the main driveway towards the entrance of the palace itself. The entrance Your ticket is checked at the entrance to the palace, to ensure you've got the sort that lets you into the buildings. You walk over what used to be the moat - it's a grassy ditch now - and through a large door that leads into the first of many courtyards. As we walked through the door we were handed a leaflet that gave a short timetable of what was going on during the day. Every day at various times throughout Hampton Court there are people dressed in period costume who give talks on different aspects of life at the court. Our trip coincided with a short festival event that concentrated on the Tudor kitchen (more details below). And a few minutes after we entered (just enough time to get our bearings and watch a short video about the place narrated by Sir Ian McKellan near the Great Hall) we went back to the entrance to see "the arrival of Henry VIII". For this, the huge gates at the entrance were shut, meaning that visitors arriving during this time had to wait to get inside. Some of them, however, found that they were given parts to play in the court, particularly children who seemed to become flag bearers with some regularity. Then, the gates were opened and the "king" and his courtiers entered - there was an Anne Boleyn, as well as Queen Katherine (of Aragon), Thomas More, and various others. They were greeted by Cardinal Wolsey in the first courtyard, amid much double entendre and knowing remarks, many directed at Anne Boleyn. The State rooms From the main courtyard, the party led the way into the Great Hall, which we'd briefly visited earlier to watch the video. This time, the king and his gang led the way, and we watched a jester amuse the party inside, with riddles and juggling. This involved some audience participation, but only for a couple of people (much to the relief of everyone else!). Thomas More roamed the crowd, preventing people from taking photographs of the spectacle (photography isn't permitted inside most of Hampton Court, with a few exceptions). From the great hall, we left the courtiers to it and wandered off to find the state apartments belonging to the real-life versions. There are quite a few state rooms at Hampton Court, and the whole place is rather a rabbit warren of corridors and connecting rooms - it's easy to lose your sense of direction and get lost. All of the state apartments were magnificent, but I thought they were rather lacking in any explanation. I hate the ubiquitous audio tour of stately homes, and refuse to use the things, but at Hampton Court, without one you were rather lost - there were very few notes to explain what things were and who/where they came from, which was a real shame. Where there were explanations posted alongside, they were short and informative and well worth reading. There were also relatively few staff around when we visited, so we couldn't really ask them for specific information, although the leaflet claimed that costumed staff were around the palace throughout the day. On a plus point, at least the audio tour guides are included in the cost of your ticket, unlike other places I could mention which charge an extra chunk of cash for the rather dubious pleasure. The kitchens The kitchens were one of my favourite parts of our visit. This is, however, in spite of the first room that you enter, which contains a model of the kitchen rooms behind glass, with a recorded voice over and drippy music and a (possibly faulty) spotlight pointing at the room the voice over was referring to. The kitches are huge, with many rooms fulfilling many different functions - from rooms specifically for making pies, to roasting, washing up, and so on. Overall, the kitchen was one of the most important places in the palace, and monarchs frequently positioned their apartments directly above the kitchen to make use of all the heat it generated (and stand a better chance of receiving their food while it was still warm!). On the day we visited, Hampton Court had a special exhibition going on that included role players working in the kitchens. We came across men (only men worked in the kitchens at the time) making pies, roasting an enormous joint of beef, making table decorations from clay, and many other things. All of the men were happy to chat about what they were doing, and one of them let me look through his historical recipe book that included recipes as they were used during Henry's time. The recipes were difficult to read, as they were written in middle english rather than the up to date kind, but interesting for all that - I had to have some help translating various culinary terms as they were used in ways that even I, as a keen cook, didn't recognise. The roasting spit was very interesting, and the man doing the turning spoke extensively about the right way to roast meat (turning very frequently so that the juices all remain inside rather than seeping out to be made into gravy, for what it's worth). Some of the kids (and adults) visiting got the chance to turn the spit, but what surprised me was that the poor chap had been sat there for well over three hours, with at least another hour to go, at the time we spoke to him. Later that afternoon, the men sat down to a fine meal consisting of all the dishes they had made. This meal was also conducted in the proper period manner, and many of the visitors turned up to watch the spectacle, including us. Again, we were specifically invited to chat and ask questions about different things - the way they ate, what implements were available, the use of the napkin (lay it over your left shoulder to wipe dirty/greasy fingers on, if you were wondering), how food was served, and so on. Sadly we weren't allowed to actually try any of the food, for health and safety reasons, but it certainly looked and smelled very good. Sadly, I don't think that this display takes place every day, although I understand that there usually is *something* happening in the kitchens at Hampton Court. It really made the experience come to life, and the men (all in costume, by the way) definitely knew there stuff and were happy to explain things to all and sundry. The garden You can choose to visit only the gardens of this palace, and I must say that I believe it would be worth spending a lot of time in them on a nice day. The gardens are extensive - there's about 60 acres in total - and vary from wildflower areas that look more like meadow than anything you'd expect to find in a palace, to much more traditional, highly manicured lawns and flower beds. There are also many statues and fountains scattered around, and even a canal that was built in the grounds. I was amazed by the gardens, they really were beautiful, even given that we went in early May when you'd expect things to be flowering. I was disappointed that we couldn't get into some of the different gardens, and there were "keep off the grass" signs in the formal areas - which were ignored by many people, without any apparent intervention by staff. You can take a carriage ride around the gardens, costing around £15 per carriage which holds 4 or 5 people. Although we didn't do this, I'm planning a return visit when we'll be able to. The maze The maze at Hampton Court is world famous, not surprising given its age! It was planted over 300 years ago for William of Orange (William III). There's about half a mile of paths inside it, but we managed not to get lost too often. A "sound sculpture" has recently been added to the maze, as you might have seen featured on the Historic Royal Palaces series on (I think) BBC2. The sounds actually work quite well as you travel through the maze, some are louder than I was expecting, and some are very quiet and just brush the edges of your hearing. There are short, whispered conversations that hark back to the maze's role as a secret meeting place for lovers while at court, and sounds of children playing, men shouting, ladies giggling and so on. Right at the centre of the maze is another sound sculpture, and it's easy to see how, before its installation, the centre of the maze was a complete anti-climax for people. There's basically nothing there other than a few benches and this sound. If you've had enough of the maze by the time you reach the centre then you can make use of the quick exit route that's been created. We, fearless explorers that we are, decided to go back the way we came. In total we spent around an hour in the maze, including time spent taking daft photos of each other looking lost and a 5 minute sit down at the centre. The maze is off to one side of the palace and its gardens, so it's a bit of a walk to get there from the other main points of interest, but it's worth it. For people who are only visiting the gardens I believe it currently costs £3.50 to enter, but it's free for people with palace tickets or (I think) with garden tickets, which are only 50p more. Conclusion Hampton Court Palace is well worth a visit, we had a great time and plan to go back soon. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of signs etc around the place explaining things, and next time might have to resort to the dreaded audio guide. However, there are a number of (free) guided tours also available, which I haven't tried yet, so perhaps they'd make a good half-way house. The gardens are lovely, and it's worth making more time for them than we managed first time around - in fact that's one guided tour I would be interested in. The palace is a reasonable price, and aspects of it are fun enough that kids would learn a fair amount of history without realising. Highly recommended! Other Information Hampton Court is a very old building, and as such there are areas of it that aren't very accessible to anyone with mobility problems or small children in tow. However there has been a real effort to open up lots of rooms and other spaces - for example, there is a lift up to the state apartments on the first floor, although you'd have to ask a warden for help accessing it. I'd allow a minimum of three hours for a visit to the palace, and more if you want to see the gardens and stop for a cup of tea along the way. In terms of food and drink, there's a restaurant out in the garden area (near the entrance, and open to garden visitors too) with a picnic area nearby where you can partake of your own food and drink. There's also a tea room in the Queen's Kitchen which we found late in the day, which did lovely (if a bit expensive) cream teas. However they are the only two catering outlets I spotted, and I can imagine that in high season they get rather packed out - they were busy enough when we visited. Admittedly there were icecream kiosks in the garden, but the two I spotted were both closed in early May. The cost of visiting is fairly reasonable - £12.30 for adults, £8 for children under 16 for the palace, or £4/£2.50 for the gardens only. Again, similar places I've visited have been a fair bit more expensive to get in. As we live so close, and I was already planning a return visit, we opted for a joint season ticket, which for £55 allows us entry to all Palaces controlled by Historic Royal Palaces, for a total of 15 months (a special offer, usually 12 months). The palaces include the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Kew Palace and Kensington Palace, so it's really quite good value for money. www.hrp.org.uk And another thing If you're taken by the idea of living in a palace, parts of Hampton Court are available to rent through the Landmark Trust (www.landmarktrust.org.uk) - I haven't tried it, so can't comment, but if you have, let me know!
I love Hampton Court Palace. There's so much to see on a day out and its great for all ages. I spent a lot of time here last summer so here goes! HISTORY Hampton Court was originally built at the beginning of the 16th century by Cardinal Wolsey, who was basically Henry VIII's right hand man. However, when Wolsey fell from power after failing to get Henry's divorce from the Pope in 1529, Henry decided that he quite fancied the palace and took it for himself. It remained as it had looked under Henry until William and Mary came along. They reigned at the end of the 17th century and extensively remodelled the palace (although they luckily didn't have enough money to finish it which means that we can still see some of the Tudor palace today). The gardens and the maze were also products of their reign. The palace lost favour as a royal residence in the mid-18th century and it was opened to the public by Queen Victoria. It is now run by an organisation called Historic Royal Palaces, which also runs the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. ACCESS: The palace is located in East Molesey. I found the train the easiest way of getting there. It takes about 35 mins from Waterloo and 30 mins from Clapham Junction (about £6). Last summer there was a bus service from central london but it took an age to reach the palace so I wouldn't recommend this. There is also a boat service from Westminster Pier but this can take up to 4 hours, so unless you like boats, don't bother! There is a car park on site but it can get busy in the summer and costs £3.50. All areas of the palace and grounds are fully accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The main problem with a visit to the palace is the price, its huge! The current cost is £12.30 for adults, £8 for children and £10 for concessions. If you are disabled you can take someone in with you for free. What you have to remember (whilst shaking as you hand over your credit card!) is that this covers absolutely everything - audioguides, guided tours, palace, gardens, maze and all exhibitions, so you can make it worthwhile. If you're planning a couple of days sightseeing in London a good tip is to buy the joint tickets which can over two or more of the Historic Royal Palaces. These give you an overall discount and also mean that you don't have to queue (a real bonus at Tower of London let me tell you!) Some advice for you if you're going - go at least 3-4 hours before closing, even then you won't see everything but at least you'll get some value. They let people in until 1 hour before but its mad to pay £12 for 1 hour! If you think you'd just like to do the maze - be warned - it is ridiculously easy - ie it usually takes less than 10 minutes and costs £3.50 on its own. Remember that its famous for being the oldest and not the biggest! Also NB the garden ticket does not include the maze and costs £4 on its own. The palace opens from 10-6 in Summer and 10-4.30 in Winter THE VISIT: What I really love about Hampton Court is that it is living history. People actually still live there (although its getting less). Also you can see history develop. You can follow the route through from Wolsey right up to the 1986 fire which tore through the King's Appartments. First of all, get an audioguide or plan to go on a guided tour. The tours are led by costumed guides which will keep the kids amused! They also provide special children's audioguides and there are trails for children and these are great for keeping them quiet! Within the palace itself you can see Henry VIII's rooms, the King's Apartments and the Queen's apartments. The Tudor kitchens are great, especially when they have special events in them. I like the Tudor rooms the best because I love this period of history but this doesn't detract at all from the 17th century rooms which are magnificent. I love the portraits, which are fascinating, as are the tapestries which hang in the Great Hall. You can see paintings of Henry VIII and his family and a depiction of the Field of the Cloth of Gold which shows Henry wrestling with the King of France! The Chapel Royal is absolutely beautiful, very peaceful. The gardens are lovely, especially on a hot summers day, but there's only so long I found that you could look round them unless you're a keen gardener. Everyone clambers in to see the Great Vine at the side of the garden, this is a vine from the 17th century, and while it is pretty amazing that its still growing, I don't find it all that enthralling. The maze is great, especially with kids, but it is short. They've installed a sound system in there which speaks to you as you go round and this is nothing short of scary, saying things like 'I know your secret' in a husky voice! I don't think it really adds much to the maze but I suppose its ok for novelty value. I really wouldn't recommend buying food or drink at the palace. It is unbelievably over-priced. Take a picnic, as you can eat this anywhere in the ground apart from the formal gardens to the rear. Much cheaper and I think its nicer as well. On my visits I could spend 2-3 hours just looking inside the palace. This can extend if you have the audioguides because there are always extra bits that you can listen to if you want - 'if you would like to hear more press...'. There are also many different guided tours, one for each area of the palace so if you do all of them you could spend a good 4-5 hours in the palace itself. I used to spend about 1 hour in the garden and as I said the maze can take very little time. Another bonus with your ticket is that on that day you can come and go as you please so you can have a break from the palace and walk round the gardens. I think that this place is great. People of all ages seem to love it and so do I. And it is worth the money, you just have to find a way to get the best value out of it!
My mother comes from Thames Ditton, which is just down the road from Hampton Court Palace. Because of this, everytime we go to visit my grandparents, we always pop into Hampton Court Palace, and even have a season ticket! I spent a large chunk of school studying the Palace, in history and in English Literature as well (when I studied to book "A Man for All Seasons" for my GCSE coursework. All these mixed together have given me a great love for this big old house, if one can call it that, and I would like to share with you why I think that this is the best place to visit in the country, and more importantly, to urge you to get out of the house in the next few days, to join in the Tudor Christmas Revelries! CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES AT HAMPTON COURT PALACE The celebrations run from 27 December 2001-4 January 2002, so to make it for this year, I will have to convince you quickly! I have been for the past four years, and will be going again tomorrow! Yippee! But why am I so excited about going to a place I have been to zillions of times before, and countless times in the future? If I were my sister, you would be able to understand, for it was there that it was declared to her in a large packed hall that she was "the very vision of beauty"!! This was three years ago, and she is still waiting for the castle that was promised to her! Anyway.... Foolery, feasting and fire-juggling make for some right Royal revelries over the New Year Period. You can join in some 16th century games, and learn how Henry VIII celebrated this holiday. If you go to the Tudor kitchens, you can experience the hustle and bustle of life under the stairs as you watch a marvellous feast being prepared right before your very eyes! Hearty pies, pastries and delicate sweets will be made using authentic techniques and equipment, whilst chicken and lamb roast over a huge fire. You can buy this food and drink and eat it up to a larg e wooden table. My favourite foods I have tried, were the Pease Pottage, sausages and the wonderous mead! Guides in full costume will show small groups through the Tudor or Stuart State Apartments explaining the purpose of the rooms and talking about events that happened there. Places on these tours are limited so you want to make sure you get to go on the ones that particularly interest you by booking your place at the information centre- there is no extra cost for this. Ok, ok so I havent really given you much notice to catch the Tudor Revelries, so here is why you should go at any other time of the year: WHAT YOU CAN SEE AT HAMPTON COURT PALACE The Palace has been divided into 6 tours which help to explain how the building was used when it was occupied by the monarchy. ***Henry VIII State Apartments*** Henry VIII was the Palaces most famous occupant, and the first Royal owner. Because of this, he is the person you will hear most about during this opinion! All his lavish private rooms were demolished in the early 18th century, but his two most magnificent rooms still stand today: the Great Hall and the Chapel Royal, which is still a place of worship today! ***The Tudor Kitchens*** The fascinating and more practical side of Royal life is represented by the enormous tudor kitchens. They are, in fact, the most extensive surviving 16th century kitchens in Europe! ***The Wolsey Rooms*** Hampton Court Palace is home to one of the largest collections of Renaissance paintings in England. The collection is housed in a series of small Tudor rooms know as the Wolsey Rooms. ***The Kings Apartment*** King William III's apartments are the finest and most important set of Baroque State Apartments in the World. They are still furnished with the same magnificent furniture and tapestries which graced them in 1700 when they were finished for the King. Unfortunat ely, the state they are in now is the restored state, as they were damaged in the tragic fire of 1986. ***The Queens State Apartments*** These apartments took 30 years to complete and represent a wide range of styles. Some of the most spectacular rooms in the Palace are within the State Apartments. ***The Georgian Rooms*** The State Apartments were built for the ceremonial lives of the Kings and Queens of England, but the Georgian Rooms were built for their more private lives. They are shown now as they were in 1737 during the last visit of the Royal Court. They show a more relaxed, informal and domestic side of Palace life. ***Courtyards and Cloister*** The buildings of Hampton Court Palace cover 6 acres and include many courtyards and cloisters. One of the greatest pleasures of visiting the Palace, I find, is strolling around them admiring the blend of tudor and baroque architechture and oddities, such as Henry VIII's astronomical Clock and Cardinal Wolsey's coat of arms in Clock Court. ***The Palace Gardens*** There are OVER 60 acres of gardens at Hampsont Court Palace, including the famous and popular maze and the newly restored privy garden. There is an exhibition that tell the story of the gardens and explains the restoration of the Privy Garden opened in 1995. I prefer to skip this and just look around, but then I have been a lot of times, and there really is not that much that changes from visit to visit. THE IMPORTANT STUFF Hopefully by now I will have persuaded you to go to Hampton Court Palace! So you want to know the all important nitty gritty! Here goes: ***Opening hours*** 25 March- 27 October Mondays 10.15-18.00 Tuesday- Sunday 09.30-18.00 Last admissions 17.15 28 October- 24 March Mondays 10.15-16.30 Tuesday- Sunday 09.30-16.30 Last admissions 15.45 CLOS ED 24-26 December The gardens are open all year round from 07.00-dusk ***Prices*** Adults £10.80 Students and Senior Citizens £8.30 children under 16 £7.20 Children under 5 FREE!! Family ticket £32.20 (up to 2 adults and 3 children) You can also buy joint tickets for the Palace and the Tower of London from the ticket office. The prices for this are as follows: Adults £19.00 child £12.50 Students and Senior Citizens £14.50 Family ticket £55.50 15 or more visitors in a group can get a special rate. There is a separate ticket office for this purpose, and booking in advance gets you even more of a discount. Group prices are as follows: Adults £9.95 Child £6.60 Student and Senior Citizen £7.60 ***How to get to the Palace*** There are numerous options for travelling to the palace. They are: CAR - the Palace is located on the A308 close to the A3, M3 and several exsists of the M25 London Orbital. Parking is available, butit has a fee of approximately £3! If you want free parking, you can park on the road in East Molsey which will leave you with a ten minute walk. TRAIN - these run twice every hour direct from London Waterloo to Hampton Court Station, leaving at 26 and 56 minutes past each hour. The journey takes 32 minutes and the Palace is right next to the station- you cant miss it! RIVER - river launches run in the summer from Westminister, Richmond-upon-Thames and Kingston-Upon-Thames. I have never used this method of transport to get to the Palace, but my mum assures me that it is the best way to get there! UNDERGROUND - Take the district line to Wimbledon or the Victoria Line to Vauxhall to pick up the overland train to Hampton Court. Alternatively, take the district line to Richmond then the R68 bus from Richmond Station direct to the Palace BUS - routes 111, 216, 411, 416, 451, 461, 513, 727 and R68 will take you to the Palace. ***Disabled Access*** <br>Manual wheelchairs are available for use in the Palace, and electronic buggies are available to use in the gardens. There is no cost for this facility and no need to pre book, just ask a friendly Palace Worker to Assist you! There are elevators in the Palace as an alternative to stairs. Unfortunately, only two of the four shops have disabled access. There are disabled toilets in the Palace and the Gardens. Disabled parking spaces are available. I recommend that you leave 2 or 3 hours NOT including any time you want to spend in the gardens. I tend to go quite early so I can go shopping in Kingston as well! This is also great at Christmas, as the towns decorations are well worth seeing! I really can not tell you enough how much you will enjoy this day out, and I really do urge you to try and make the New Year Festivities if you can! Hurry! You only have a few days to go!!
Hampton Court Situated in East Molesey, Surrey (off A308), the River Thames flows to one side of this breathtaking place. I will give a brief history of Hampton Court Palace to start with as, no doubt, some of you have heard it all before. Brief History 1236 ~ the early buildings were used by the ‘Knights of Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem’. The land was used for agricultural estates. 1505 ~ this was the year Henry VII's ‘Lord Chamberlain’ took a lease on the property. He died in 1508. 1514 ~ the lease was given to Thomas Wolsey, who was ‘Arch Bishop of York’ as well as ‘Chief Minister to Henry VIII’. He was to make many changes and additions to the place, including new kitchens, galleries, gardens and so on. When he was no longer flavour of the month, Henry kicked him into touch. Henry went on to make many changes himself. He spent £62,000 in ten years ( a vast sum in those days) ! Next to add their own ‘personal touch’ to this ever growing palace, was Elizabeth ( the First ) One major addition from her was the ‘Queens Privy Kitchen’ ( now the ‘ Privy Kitchen Coffee Shop' ). For those that don't remember their history, the ‘Stuarts’ followed the ‘Tudors’. They were to use Hampton Court as a prison, as well as a palace, Charles I was imprisoned here in 1647, after the Civil War when he was deposed by parliament. This is the time when hunting in the surrounding parks became a popular pastime for the Royals. The Palace was then to be sold. 1660 ~ this was the year that saw Charles II do his bit in adding to the Palace, his ‘mistress’ was built several apartments, lucky old her !! Right, now William III and Mary II were next on the scene. They engaged Christopher Wren to rebuild the Palace, however, money and time would not permit. Only the ‘Queens Apartments’ and the ‘Kings Apartments’ could be managed. Work came to a halt in 1694, when poor Mary died. Queen Anne was next, the main attraction for her was the hunting, though she included a few additions to the palace herself. ‘The Chapel’ for one, she also decorated the ‘Queens Drawing Room’... well she never actually took paintbrush in hand, but you know what I mean . George I was not too fussed about the Palace either. George II and Queen Caroline steamed in there though. They were to make several additions, with the inclusion of the ‘Cumberland Suite’ ( built for their son, the Duke of Cumberland - now that's a nice title! ). 1737 ~ this was the last year to see a ‘full court’ at Hampton Court Palace. A row between the King and his heir, the Prince of Wales, resulted in the Prince sneaking off one night with his heavily pregnant wife, Augusta. George III preferred to spend his time at Windsor Castle. So, over the years that followed, Hampton Court Palace was made into ‘Grace and Favour’ apartments. Many historians and architechs were taking great interest in the place. They have slowly restored the Palace over the centuries. Now, coming next are the bits of ‘info’ I like best ( and I hope you do too, ‘cause I’m gonna write them anyway )...the strange tales and legends. Read on, as much of what I am about to write compliments the above, rather brief, history. Oh, yes, and I will be adding my own views here and there too. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Wise One ~ a spider ? You know those big old, ugly old, brown, hairy, spiders we see from time to time? Well, t hey are called ‘Cardinal Spiders’, ( the biggest spider of the English variety-YUK ) named after Cardinal Wolsey. It was believed, in days gone by, that these spiders had special ‘powers’. They were thought to be ‘wise’, people believed the creatures could ‘foresee good fortune’ and that they had ‘healing powers’. No-one was to even dare try to ‘shoo’ one away….or else !! They were always made very welcome at the Palace, treated as ‘honoured visitors’ !! Well, I can tell you now, they receive NO SUCH welcome in my home. I do a little more than tell them to ‘shoo’ ‘an all !! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Don’t Be Scared ~ It’s Only The Missus It has often been reported that a ‘female figure’, dressed in white, has been seen looking very distraught, rushing down the corridors of the Palace while screaming. It is believed that this is the ‘ghost’ of one of Henry VIII's wives, Catherine Howard, who had committed adultery, a crime that cost Catherine her life. She had been dragged, screaming to her death. Good old ‘Enery !! That's the way to do it! (not) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ding Dong Death ! Above the ‘Clock Tower’ remains the oldest part of the Palace, the bell. When Anne of Denmark died, the bell struck once….then stopped. Legend has it, that ever since that day, whenever one of the older residents dies, the clock strikes at the moment of death…then stops! Spooooky Huh!? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Don’t Mess With Maj’s Passion ~ Fashion ! If anyone DARED to wear a bigger, fluffier ‘ruff’ than Elizabeth I ( a well known dedicated follower of fashion ) well stuff their luck !! She was a very vain lady, possessing vast wardrobes of French, Italian and English clothes, as well as her collection of jewel encrusted 'fantasy clothes'. Sir Walter Raleigh presented her with the first pair of knitted silk stockings...she refused to wear cloth stockings ever again. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Who Needs Plastic Surgery When You Have One Of These ? Charles II commemorated his triumphal entry into London, as ‘Oak Apple Day’. This was because he had hidden in an oak tree, to avoid capture after his defeat at the ‘Battle of Worcester’. He had a number of cast iron ‘firebacks’ made. Some were placed in Hampton Court. They each had symbols of an oak tree, oak apples and three crowns. Superstitions came about that, if you carried an oak apple ( acorn ) about your person, it would preserve youth ! Bet Bruce Forsythe and Paul Daniels didn’t know that !! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thou Shall Not Juggle George II and his wife Queen Caroline, had a son named Frederick, Prince of Wales. He married a young lady by the name of Augusta. The King and Queen were none too happy with this young couples ‘lively’ behaviour. Infact, this caused so much bad feeling that the young couple stopped speaking to the King and Queen! They also hid the fact that Augusta was pregnant ( that must have been some frock ). On the night Augusta went into labour, Frederick sneaked her out of the Palace, much to the disgust of his parents. The baby ~ a little girl, also named Augusta ~ was born in St. James’s Palace. When Queen Caroline visited the new parents, she looked at the baby and said, with a tongue more cutting than Prinny Anne's ) ‘if instead of this ugly she-mouse there had been a large, fat, jolly boy I should not have been cured of my suspicions that there had been juggle’. ( I hope my op does not get thrown off because of that word ) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A MAZE in’ The Maze was designed by a chap called Stephen Switzer ( for William and Mary ). He was not a happy bunny though. His original design had twenty dead ends in it, but only four were put in. He had a bit of a moan, but I guess the conversation went something like 'ummm, let’s have a little think here… now whooo’s the King and Queen….and er, whooo’s the gardener?’. The Maze is a half mile walk from start to finish. This MUST not be missed by visitors. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Me ‘orse Only Goes And Drops, See William reigned alone after Mary died. He suffered something rotten with Dropsy. Doctors had told him, the only way to ease his troubled parts, was to cover them with bags of roses and lavendar. Clever old William knew better though. He insisted that horse riding was the only way to reduce the swelling. So, mounted on horse, off he went. When the pain became quite intense one day, he decided his horse should break into a gallop. The horse dropped ( see, Dropsy ~ Drop See ?? Oh, please yourselves ) to it’s knees, throwing William so hard, he broke his collar bone. He said “the accident was a strange thing, as it happened on level ground, but a mole heaved it up and left a hole there, in which the horse's foot stuck”. William died three weeks later. The Jacobites ~ Williams enemy ~ drank toasts to ‘ the little gentleman in black velvet’, who had made that hole. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Be Gone With You Hampton Court had many squatters over the years, two hundred years to be exact . They would usually have bribed the Housekeeper to worm their way in. George I threatened “ ;those who lodge in our palace, without leave, shall answer at their peril”. Well, that scary old sentence did the trick! They had no idea what ‘their peril’ meant, didn’t wanna hang around to find out either ! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bit Of A Carry On Sir Horace Seymour ~ Battle of Waterloo hero ~ was at a mass in ‘The Chapel’ one Sunday, when a young lady fainted. He did no more than scoop her into his big strong arms, and carry her off to his apartment, he then returned to the service. This happened to other young ladies over the next few weeks. That bloke gave them all the same treatment, carried them off to his apartment and returned to ‘The Chapel’. Well, some old girl got a bit peeved at this, she smelt a rat…clever old thing. She promptly had words with the Chaplain and expressed her suspicions. The following Sunday, a notice was placed in ‘The Chapel’, it read : ‘ Whereas a tendency to faint is becoming a prevalent infirmity among young ladies frequenting this chapel, notice is hereby given that, for the future, ladies so affected will no longer be carried out by Sir Horace Seymour, but by Branscombe the dustman’. ( Poor bloomin’ Branscombe, talk about slap in the face! ) The fainting stopped. Well, I mean, would yoo want to be carried out by a smelly old dustman ( in the same way they carry dustbins ), rather than the strong war-hero you had been 'aiming for' ! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Er, Don’t Worry~ It’s Only My Other Missus As well as the ‘haunting’ of the Palace by Catherine Howard, Jane Seymour ( another Mrs. Henry VIII ) is said to ‘haunt’ the place. She is supposed to have appeared as a ‘faint vision of a woman, dressed in white, carrying a lighted taper and emerging from The Queens Apartme nts’. This is said to happen on the anniversary of her son ~ Edward VI’s birth. Jane died two weeks after the birth of her ‘sickly’ child. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Is That You Sibell ?? A lady called Sibell Penn fostered Edward VI and later nursed Princess Elizabeth through Smallpox. Sibell caught Smallpox from the child, the disease caused her death. She was buried in Hampton Church. A life sized effigy, made from marble, was placed over her tomb. In 1829 the church was demolished, her tomb was said to have been ‘irreverently disturbed , her remains scattered’. Immediately after, strange noises were heard, they were coming from behind a wall in the South~West Wing of Hampton Court. The noises were described as ‘sounding like someone spinning thread’. The wall was taken down to reveal a hidden room with a spinning wheel in. The floorboards were said to have been worn away by the treadle, as it struck the floor. People believed that, as her tomb had been desecrated, Sibell returned to the room she had occupied in life. Strange eh ?? A figure, believed to be Sibell’s ghost, dressed in a long hooded robe and of similar appearance to that of her effigy, was first reported ‘seen’ by a sentry in the 1890’s. Since then, there have been so many other sightings that she is the best authenticated ghost in history. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Get Wid It At Fountain Court Fool! In 1871, workmen excavating for a new drainage system, under the cloister of the ‘Fountain Court’, unearthed two skeletons. One of the residents said “stupid Board of Works has at last found the two wretched men, who I have been telling everyone, have been haunting me for years”. Not even friends had believed her when she said, that for a long time she had been aware of th e presence of two ‘invisible beings’ and was constantly disturbed by the ‘rapping’ sounds they made ( ghosts ahead of their time, maybe ~ Yo ! Give it up for the Spook Doggy Dogs ). The skeletons are believed to be those of victims of some ‘Roundhead villainy’. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Nope ! It Was My Turn, Shan’t Play Now So Ner Ner! In Victorian times, the Palace was under the control of several Departments of State, each jealous of the others powers. A lady resident had requested access to the gardens, by way of a disused staircase. The staircase was next to her apartment, this would save her taking a much longer route. Use of the staircase needed the consent of the ‘Lord Chamberlain’. To unlock the door at the bottom needed the permission of another ‘Department’. This took quite some time. The lady then found that, when passing through the doorway, shells would break. So, permission had to be granted by the ‘Board of Works’. As more than one Department was involved, the ‘Lord Steward and his Board of The Green Cloth’ had to be called in to decide “whose was the responsibility and whose was the power”. After several meetings, all three agreed that permission could be granted to go down the staircase; to open the door and to pass through the doorway. Phew!! ‘Thank goodness that was sorted’ you must be thinking. Well, it was not sorted. Why ? Well, to get into the gardens, a small iron gate had to be opened. That came within the control of the ‘First Commissioner and the Board of Her Majesty’s Woods and Forests’ ( mouthful, eh ?? ). Wouldn’t ya just know it……they refused, well at first anyway. After much thrashing around with handbags and powder puffs, they relented. They only dug their heels in in the first place, as they felt their approval had be en taken for granted….that sounds a tad familiar !! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If You Really Respected Me, You Wouldn’t Have Asked Me To Do THAT! Launcelot ‘Capability’ Brown was a much respected gardener, he had landscaped over one hundred and forty estates in his working life. He was nicknamed ‘Capability’, as he would only undertake work on places ‘capable’ of improvement. He was Royal Gardener at Hampton Court for a while. George III wanted the gardens modernized. Well ‘Capability’ was having none of that. He refused “out of respect for myself and my profession”. In 1769 he had taken a small cutting from a vine in Ilford, Essex and planted it in a corner of ‘The Pond Court’. It unexpectedly grew to giant size, thought to be attributed at the time, to the roots having found their way into the massive drains of the building. So Hampton Court now boasts ‘The Great Vine’. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Well, I have many more ‘strange little tales’ like that, and I just know I am gonna be inundated with e-mails requesting that I add them to this short op. I am sooooo glad dooyoo added that ‘short op’ option….makes life so much easier . Just to finish though (at last) I would like to add that Hampton Court Palace, and Gardens, are truly beautiful. I am very lucky, as they are but a stone’s throw from me. We visit regularly.We don’t often go into the Palace though, as it is expensive, and take no notice of those prices up the top there. I think you will find that the prices quoted there are for joint tickets to ‘The Tower Of London’ and ‘Hampton Court Palace’. The actual prices for Hampton Court Palace are; adults : £10.80 ; children under 16 : £7.20; OAP’s/ students : £8.30; under 5 217;s : free; family ticket ( 2 adults and 3 kids ) : £32.20. So, hardly the sort of thing you could do regularly. There are several eateries/refreshment establishments scattered about the place, aswell as gift shops.We tend to take our own food with us and splash out on icecream if we're in a good mood :) We go to Hampton Court for the views, to see the magnificent place ( from the outside ) to walk through the gardens and smell the lovely air that the flowers bring and to sit on the banks of the River Thames. It really is a lovely day out. I have just read the last bit, it sure does sound icky !! Right, well I am really going now. My last thought to you all is : Be very careful who you ‘juggle’ with… you don’t know where they’ve been !