The costumed guides and actors really engage younger visitors, bringing the history of the palace to life. Wonderful venue for ice skating too!
Hampton Court Palace
© Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Mon Feb 24 2014
Henry VIII had many palaces, but Hampton Court is one that oozes drama - and its prestige continued long after he had departed: Elizabeth I entertained here, Shakespeare performed for James I, and Cromwell made it his home after the Civil War.
Still, Bluff King Hal is always the favourite with children, who are fascinated by his portly appearance and six wives. The ghost of Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard - executed for adultery at the Tower - is said to shriek around in the Haunted Gallery, but despite Henry's reputation for brutality, Hampton Court was for the most part a place of pleasure. There were tournaments and feasts, musical entertainment, plays and dancing - frequently revived at the palace for special events. There's even a lovingly reconstructed 4m-tall wine fountain in the Base Court, largest of the palace's several courtyards, serving wine (red and white, £3.50 a glass) on weekends and bank holidays.
The Tudor and Baroque buildings sprawl across six acres, with lively costumed guides on hand to keep visitors to the state apartments, courtyards and cloisters informed and engaged. The gardens too are a delight: the maze – an essential on every child's itinerary - was planted between 1689 and 1694, making it the oldest in the country, and there's also a fine heraldic knot garden. Themed activities - including Rooftop Tours - are plentiful during the school holidays, and Tudor cookery demonstrations take place in the huge kitchens on several bank holidays and weekends, with cauldrons bubbling and the carcasses of game birds.
Last year curators at Hampton Court palace made a delicious discovery: the Royal Chocolate Kitchen. The room had been in use as a storage space but is well preserved, with many of its original fittings and equipment. Newly restored, and opening to the public for the first time in 300 years, it is the only surviving royal chocolate kitchen in the country and has catered to the sweet tooth of three kings – William III, George I and George II. Live Georgian chocolate-making sessions scheduled throughout the year mean visitors will be able to experience the process first-hand and learn more about the elaborate and complex techniques used to create drinking chocolate, once the ultimate royal luxury.
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Visit to Hampton Court Palace with Cycle Tour for Two
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Hampton Court Palace East Molesey
- Venue phone:
0844 482 7777, bookings 020 7492 1561
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Oct-Mar: daily 10am-4.30pm (last ticket sold 3.30pm). Mar-Oct: daily 10am-6pm (last ticket sold 6.pm). Closed Dec 24-26
Rail: Hampton Court
£18.20, £15.40 concs, £9.10 children (5-16), under-fives free, £46.80 family (2 adults + 3 children)
Hampton Court Palace
- East Molesey
- 0844 482 7777, bookings 020 7492 1561
- East Molesey
- Hampton Court Palace
What's on at Hampton Court Palace
Things to do
Instead of bringing flowers to your mum this Mother's Day take your mum to see the flowers at Hampton Court Palace. For one weekend the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies will be creating an extravagant Georgian inspired floral displays...
Cycling, Things to do, Families
This fun family day-out is being held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Horse Rangers Association – and raise money towards their work teaching youngsters how to ride and care for horses and ponies. The Rangers are based in the Royal Mews at Hampton...
Art and design, Specialist interest, Things to do
Hot on the heels of the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show in May 2014, this high-summer event takes place over 34 acres in the spectacular grounds of Hampton Court Palace and features world-class gardens as well as marquees showcasing...
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