Newest Review: ... carved high ceilings, rich tapestries and many animal horns on the walls, this would be where banquets and balls would have been held. In... more
TWEAKED, plus a bit more info:Greensleeves and all that.
Hampton Court Palace (Surrey)
Member Name: peel.rebekah
Hampton Court Palace (Surrey)
Date: 31/03/01, updated on 26/05/01 (221 review reads)
Just outside London, on the borders of Surrey, lies the palace of Henry VIII (1491 - 1547), one of England's most renowned and celebrated kings. To be historically correct, this house was actually built to be the home of Thomas Wolsey (the land had previously belonged to The Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, 1236, and was then bestowed upon Sir Giles Daubeney by Henry VII, passing to Wolsey six years after Daubeney's death) - When building began in 1514, Thomas was merely the Archbishop of York - When Henry first saw the house and its splendour, Wolsey had bettered his position by becoming Cardinal and Lord Chancellor. Henry was so impressed by the palace that he 'persuaded' Wolsey to part with it, and who was Thomas to argue with the king? (Henry moved into the palace in 1528).
*The history of the Palace.
Wolsey was soon to fall out of favour when he could not secure a divorce for Henry from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (this had been an arranged marriage, backed by the papacy, to solidify European relations). Henry was determined to fulfill his passion for the young Anne Boleyn (later to become the mother of Elizabeth I), and when Wolsey's political antics failed to impress the Pope, he was accused of treason by his king. With failing health and lack of spirit, Wolsey returned to be tried, dying of natural causes just days before the King could condemn him himself (1530).
The King, still determined in his lust, created a rupture with the Church of Rome, pronounced himself the head of the Church of England (consummated with the Act of Supremacy), and duly rewarded himself the much wanted divorce. He married Anne Boleyn in 1533, and spent his honeymoon in Hampton Court Palace.
Local public houses and streets still honour Wolsey's name. (Unsurprisingly, there are few churches still remaining in the area that predate the Reformation - you can find one, St Georges, behind The Bear pub in E
There are a few entrances to Hampton Court palace, but the main one is the West Gate entrance (the Trophy Gate - added by William III 1689 - 1702), which leads visitors into the Outer Green Court (or Base Court as it also known) and then into the Clock Court: One is immediately struck by the grandeur of the palace, emphasised by the enormous Astronomical Clock (1540, Nicholas Oursian - Inventor of clocks for the King) that greets you - interestingly, the clock depicts the sun revolving around the earth, not a common place belief at the time of construction. On the right is the Grand Hall of Henry VIII (which replaced the original room of Wolsey's), on the left, the official apartments of William and Mary (Christopher Wren), and in front, the gateway to the Fountain Court (built by William Kent under the reign of George II). Are you beginning to get the picture? Hampton Court may be renowned as a Tudor Palace, but other great architectural influences have also been at work over the centuries.
Remaining Tudor attractions are as follows:
The official apartments of Henry VIII (access via the Clock Court, and Anne Boleyn?s staircase): The Grand Hall is probably the most important of all the rooms (only the original kitchens can give us more insight into 'everyday' Tudor life); constructed in 1532, the Hall is 32 metres by 12 metres (18 metres from floor to ceiling). It was built to function as a dining room for over 600 people - and also to provide as an impressive entrance to the King?s private rooms. Impressive? Oh yes. The ceiling is decorated with intricate wooden trellis work, with sculptured wooden heads highlighting certain areas, the walls are adorned with sumptuous tapestries (The History of Abraham) and the stained glass windows shed glittering light across the room (Henry himself is depicted standing in the middle).
There is a smaller room attached by a staircase, and this is the
39;waiting' room (where the visitors would attend Henry), or the 'Antler' room, depending. Decked out in wood, the obvious other attraction is the plethora of dead deer skulls that decorate the walls. The staircase has been reconstructed and now beers the monogram of Queen Victoria.
The Haunted Gallery (supposedly blessed with the eternal presence of Catherine Howard - the 5th wife of Henry) was originally constructed under the control of Wolsey; the name only adds to its somber ambience - it really does feel (something to do with the light, I believe) like a step back in time. It isn't the grandest of rooms, but it does house five tapestries depicting Virgil's Aeniad (Early XVI century and probably acquired by Elizabeth I). The story of Catherine (accused of adultery and beheaded only 15 months after her marriage to Henry) can be heard via one of the guides, if you need to hear all the sad and morbid details; she is supposed to run through this room, fleeing to the Chapel in a last appeal to God and to Henry.
The Royal Chapel has been in continuous use for the last 450 years; it has been renovated, added to and taken away from over the years, yet it still stands as a testament to the stunning architectural work of the Tudor age. The chapel remains divided into two main areas: That for the monarch, fellow royalty and companions, and that of the lower ranks. The area for the monarch (the Royal Bank) still bares the magnificent painted ceiling that Henry chose: A startling blue hue is embellished with gold stars, golden cherubs and paint work that is almost oriental in its detail. The different major ages of development of the chapel are as follows: 1535 - 36, the basic elements, double windows plus the ceiling (replacing Wolsey?s original) under Henry VIII; Oak work by Grinling Gibbons (under the command of Sir Christopher Wren) in the 18th century (Queen Anne); a trompe l'oeil window on the wall (again, 18th century - James
Thornhill); windows replaced with Tudor copies in 1894.
The Tudor kitchens are decked out in all their Tudor glory (the odd dead deer here, a suckling pig there - not real, I hasten to add), and they impress. The kitchens are made up of: The soup kitchen, the fish kitchen the grand kitchen, the cellars and a couple of smaller rooms that were used for servants rooms/eateries. Everything has been reconstructed to historians ideas of what this place would have looked like - utensils, herbs etc.
*Other features within the palace that you should check out:
The king's apartments (those of William III) are truely sublime: You are led to them by the King's staircase, the surrounding walls of which are illustrated upon by Antonio Verrio (1700): lots of cherubs, gods and men adorn the stairwell, accompanied by blusterous clouds that ascend heavenward. The Guard Room is awash with arms, supposedly laid out it their intricate manner by William?s Gunman. The King's bedroom is as awe inspiring as you would expect: Red and gold taffeta is the theme of the day (all the materials are VERY delicate, so please refrain from touching); access to the chamber was severely limited when William was in town, and today we should feel privileged (if not deprived and somewhat anti the monarchy) to be able to see the sumptuous comfort in which he lived - it puts Ikea to shame :o)
The Queen's state apartments (Mary (wife of William), Anne and Caroline (wife of George II) all used these rooms) are only a little less indulgent: The most inspiring of these rooms is the Queen's Gallery: They contain the Triumphs of Cesar (Mantegna), a series of tapestries that were procured by William, but seem to have an interesting history that predates this.
I also have to mention the Georgian rooms (frequented by George II and Caroline), the great vine (planted by Capability Brown (for more of his work, pop down the road to Claremont Gardens)), the
Real Tennis courts and the private reading room of the Queen (Caroline): All definitely worth the visit if you have the time.
*Other general stuff:
As you can see, Hampton Court has played host to more than one reigning monarch: Queen Mary (of the Bloody fame) spent her honeymoon with Philip of Spain here. Elizabeth I was struck with a near fatal dose of smallpox while she stayed at the Palace. James I came here for hunting, and his son, Charles I, was imprisoned in the palace after the Civil War. William and Mary moved here shortly after taking the throne, commissioning Wren to rebuild the palace. They had meant to demolish the buildings that predated them, but they ran out of money and time. Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria), visited often to play tennis - His name is still on a locker in the changing rooms.
On 31st March, 1986, the palace suffered serious damage when a fire broke out in one of the private apartments, virtually destroying The King?s Apartments; a six year restoration project then ensued, and all of the fire damaged treasures have been returned to their former glory.
This leads me nicely into a little bit of hearsay: Apparently, several workers (working in the fire damaged areas of the palace), decided to leave their employment, due to an apparition of an elderly lady in a rocking chair, and repeated strange noises that emanated from the walls and chimneys - children's skeletons were actually found in some of the unused chimneys; it was commonplace to leave young chimney sweeps that got stuck while cleaning the chimney. Another lovely little story is of a guide, who, while recounting the legend of Anne Boleyn's ghost (oh, yes, another wifely spirit that is rumoured to haunt the place) that ran through the corridors, screaming for Henry and demanding forgiveness to his tour group, opened the door to her previously guarded chamber, and there was Boleyn, who proceeded to run, screaming through the
corridors... A modern myth, I have no doubt, but the palace is a gold mine for ghost hunters and the like.
The palace and its gardens also play host to various exhibitions and shows (check press for details), the most successful of which are the Music Festival (in its ninth year), 7-16th June, and the spectacular Flower Show, 3-8th July, public all day tickets - 19.00 pounds. The gardens really do deserve an opinion of their own - I have spent many a long summer day strolling through them without a thought for the palace. An absolutely unmissable attraction of the gardens is the maze - entrance price is 1.70 pounds. The gardens are open all year round, free of charge, from 7.00 am until dusk.
The palace has excellent disabled facilities: Manual wheelchairs and electric buggies are available, free of charge - Ask a warder for assistance. Braille books are also available at one of the bookshops. One problem of the palace is the lack of toilets; if you are touring the gardens, then you may find you have a bit of a hike back to the ladies and gents. Icecreams and soft drinks are also very pricey once you are inside the grounds of the palace.
Hampton Court (the town), has plenty of pubs and eateries. There is also an abundance of antique shops in the area, and, for the ladies, a small selection of rather trendy clothes shops - Squaring the Circle is a particular favourite of mine.
Mid March to 26th October: Tuesday - Sunday, 9.30 - 18.00. Monday, 10.15 - 18.00 (last admittance at 17.15).
26th October to mid March: Tuesday - Sunday, 9.30 - 16.30. Monday, 10.15 - 16.30 (last admittance at 15.45).
The entrance price is : Adult - 10.80 pounds, Family ticket (two adults and three children) - 32.20 pounds.
Transport to the palace: Hampton Court is on the A308, not far from the A3, M3 and M25 (and well sign posted). Several buses run from Kingston, but the easiest w
ay is by train, only 30 minutes from Waterloo.
More reviews in the field of Sightseeing National
- One Day in Wales
- Towers Can Be Seen For Miles.
- Breathtaking views and some real history
- I may be wrong but
- Updated - Swansea Leisure Centre
- Starting the Year on Top of the World - Well England at Least!
- Church Ope Cove, Isle of Portland
- Not Just For Bird Watchers
- Watch Gannets Soar and Puffins Plummet
- Northumberland's New Lady
- Skomar Island (England)
- Northumberlandia (England)
- Dorney Court (Windsor)
- Sea Life Tower (Weymouth)
- Radipole Lake Nature Reserve (Weymouth)
- Five Weirs Walk (Sheffield)
- Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs (London)
- Nunney Castle (Somerset)
- Cwmcarn Forest Drive & Visitor Centre (Wales)
- Marden Meadow (Kent)