Hampton Court Palace

Attractions , Historic buildings and sites London
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Frolic in the maze where kings and queens once played then see where Henry VIII ate his scoff

To cut a long story short, Hampton Court Palace was originally built by Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, as a showy country retreat to host state visits. Unfortunately, he did such a grand job of out-blinging the king, that Henry pretty much seized Hampton Court Palace from Wolsey as compensation when the Pope wouldn’t let him divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon so he could shack up with Anne Boleyn.

Thus, Hampton Court Palace goes down in history as the playground of the Tudors and today, some of the most inspiring parts of the Palace to visit are the sixteenth-century quarters that still stand proud. These include the extensive kitchens, which once had to prepare two meals a day for a court of 600 people. With spice rooms and cellars for the king’s treats (Italian olives, French wines, locally caught game) they’re a bit like a modern Shoreditch deli run on an army canteen scale.

To get a real feel for what life was like back then, time your visit to coincide with one of the costumed ‘encounters with the past’, where actors dress up and play out typical scenes around the palace, including a Tudor Kitchens encounter and scenes with Henry’s courtiers. There are talks and tours you can join for free, too (check the website for dates).

Even after the Tudors had run out of heirs, royal life at Hampton Court Palace continued. Shakespeare would play a Christmas season of plays for King James here with a little band of actors, and later, William and Mary and the Georgian kings built their own additions to the Palace. These include the grand staircase adorned with an Italian fresco depicting William as the hero Alexander and the special rooms where George I installed his own private chocolatier so he could have drinking chocolate when he pleased.

From the Tudor indoor tennis court to the Royal Maze, from the King’s private loo to the brand new Magic Garden adventure playground (inspired by the medieval joust), Hampton Court Palace is several different visits in one place. If you love history and art, buy the ticket for the Palace and the Gardens, or if you have children with you who just want to run around, buy the Magic Garden and Maze ticket. And while you decide what you want to do, wander the rose gardens for free and enjoy a coffee in the Tiltyard Café.

Venue name: Hampton Court Palace
Address: East Molesey
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
Transport: Rail: Hampton Court
Price: Palace, Maze and Gardens Mar 1–Oct 31 2016: £21 (online £19.80), £17.10 (online £16) concs., £10.50 (online £9.90) under-16s, free under-fives, family ticket from £37 (online £34.80). Nov 1–Feb 28 2016: £18.20 (online £17.10), £15.40 (online £14.30) concs., £9.10 (online £8.60) under-16s, free under-fives, family ticket from £33.50 (online £32.10)
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Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

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1 person listening

Plan ahead! In this historic royal palace you have so many things to do and see that even spending a whole day here is not enough. Take the train from Vauxhall station, get down to Hampton station and in 3 min walk you are there.

First stop; Grab your free audio guide and put on your velvet robe to get you into the period's style :)

Through 4 different routes you will discover the Edwards VIII scandalous life, the Williams III apartments, see the royal kitchens and chocolaterie, sit in the Great Hall, pray (?!?) in the amazing Crown Chapel - soon you will find yourself lost in that kings & queens english period.

But the most amazing is just outside the palace buildings; Palace royal gardens. I haven't seen such well organized & well preserved gardens all over UK. You can easily spend a whole day just being in the gardens and of course in the fabulous maze (it might sound childish to be inside a maze, but it wasn't that easy to get out of it, believe me!).

The ticket price, that includes all the above, worth every penny of it.

Don't get bored to leave for a while central London & get down to Hampton - you won't regret it.

NakedPRGirl Claire

Hampton Court Palace is right up my strasse! History, a palace and beautiful gardens all in one! Take a look at their website before you go as they have events throughout the year - like flower show for Mothers Day and such the like. I've been all year round - cold or hot there's something to see and do! My favourite times have been Spring, when the flowers are coming out and the gardens are heaven! You can roam around for free and have to pay to enter the palace - it's definitely worth it and make sure you have a good day to spend here. Henry VIII's place is decadent and impressive so enjoy room after room with audio guides to tell the story. Afterwards, I recommend the Prince Albert pub for dinner (especially the Sunday Roast) - yummy.

Kemi O

A really beautiful building with stunning views. Firstly, It's near some great little restaurants so great to have a quick lunch before you head in (if you don't want to buy food in the palace restaurant!) The gardens are spectacular and you can stroll around for hours taking beautiful images! Or grab a seat on one of the many benches dotted around and watch the sun go down. Quick tip - if you go at the end of September/ early October it's free to get in!

moderatorStaff Writer

Fabulous location right on the Thames. Was a little bit odd to be greeted by Henry VIII and one of his wives at the entrance, but that made for a very immersive start to our visit. You can easily spend an afternoon here and still have plenty left to do for another day - the various state rooms are interesting enough, although not as impressive as Windsor castle, the maze is worth a vist, but for me the winning part is the sprawling landscape gardens which are so immaculately kept it beggars belief. There must be an army of gardners working 24-7. There are horse rides around the gardens which are fun with the kids, if a little pricey. All in all a great day out.

Emma S

This glorious building is spectacular and the gardens are stunning. It is by far one of the most worth while places to visit just outside of London. If I could, i'd move in, in a heart-beat.  

Julie Rimmer

The costumed guides and actors really engage younger visitors, bringing the history of the palace to life. Wonderful venue for ice skating too!

klara cort

We visited when it was very cold and the huge rooms were even chillier but I have warm memories of that day, as it was like a travel back to time!