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||Contact:|
|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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4.9 / 5
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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!
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.
The costumed guides and actors really engage younger visitors, bringing the history of the palace to life. Wonderful venue for ice skating too!
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!