Hampton Court Palace

Attractions, Historic buildings and sites London
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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. The considerable kitchens, for instance, which were once filled with cooks preparing meals twice a day for a court of 600 people. They also contain spice rooms and cellars that were used to store the king’s treats (Italian olives, French wines, locally caught game).

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).

Post-Tudor reign, Hampton Court maintained a royal allegiance. King James would invite Shakespeare to present Christmas season of plays with a small group of actors, and later, new additions were built at the palace by the Georgian king William III and Mary II. The grand staircase is among these, adorned with an Italian fresco depicting William as the hero Alexander, and the special rooms where a private chocolatier was hired to work for George I so he could have drinking chocolate whenever 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.

By: Laura Lee Davies

Posted:

Venue name: Hampton Court Palace
Contact:
Address: East Molesey
Surrey
London
KT8 9AU
Opening hours: For 2017 Mar 26-Oct 28, 10am-6pm; Oct 29-Mar 2018; Magic Garden open Apr-Oct 29, 10am-6pm.
Transport: Rail: Hampton Court
Price: £23, £19 concs, £11.50 under-16, £41 family (1 adult and three children), £57 (two adults and three children). Online and after Nov 1 cheaper.
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LiveReviews|14
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Sonia C

You really need to dedicate a whole day to this incredible jewel in historical Britain's crown. Internally there are 2 whole palaces to explore- Henry VIII's Tudor wing & William & Mary's Christopher Wren's extension. There's lots of fascinating extra's bringing it to life like cooks in the kitchen & wandering troubadours singing songs & performing in the Great Hall. The garden's are a day out in themselves with the iconic maze & the world's biggest vine all being tucked away besides beautiful at times intricate formal gardens & areas of what feels like expansive parkland. The whole site is fascinating & astonishingly well preserved.

OnlymeElena
tastemaker

Are you still juggling how to spend time with your kids during this school break and at the same to get some time for yourself? Then make a trip to the Hampton Court Palace. I love this place. It’s more than an iconic historic place with Tudor kitchens which were used by Henry VIII, massive halls, filled with paintings, medieval art, baroque style interior and architecture. You can pick up medieval robes and capes and the kids and you can wear it while in the palace.  If you don’t want to spend time around the palace, then go to the Maze and to the Magic Garden. You can get tickets separately, which is very convenient. During this Easter there is an organised ‘Easter Hunt’, where you have a map to search for Lindt Bunnies. Bear in mind that some of them are actually inside the palace. Explore the Maze and make sure you reach the centre, then go to the Magic Garden to lie down on the grass and eat ice-cream. Make sure that you go to the main gardens, the view is just breath-taking. You can even have a ride on the royal horse carriage. There is  a car park at the palace, which charges £1.60 per hour. 

Tiago Almeida
Tastemaker

Absolutely gorgeous palace and gardens.

Perfect to go on a sunny day and enjoy the beautiful gardens and maze.

Also great to go with children's.

Jane G.
Tastemaker

Hampton Court Palace is on of my favourite places to go and wander. I have an annual palaces pass so I go often. It is so vast that you have space to yourself even on a busy day. I like to take the boat from Kingston traveling on the Thames approaching the palace with a magical view as you pull up to the gates as visitors would have for in the days of the ruling Tudors. But however you get there it is worth the effort. There is an audio tour, check the website for various events that are family friendly throughout the year. The cafe has nice cakes and is very friendly, in the summer they grill outdoors which is a nice treat. During the Christmas period they have an ice rink just inside the palace gates and it is an amazing view to skate to.

bailey1988
Tastemaker

Step into the past with a visit to Hampton Court Palace. The palace is so vast, you can easily spend an entire day there and not see it all. For children, there is the famous maze and play area. They can also grab a royal robe to wear as they run about the historic halls. For those who love Tudor history, it won't disappoint. Over the Christmas period, there's a fun ice rink outside the palace gates. For a nice Sunday lunch, visit the mute swan pub opposite the palace.

SB

Over the weekend went to Hampton Court Magic Garden.

It has a wide variety of activities for the children including a climb on dragon, a sand pit with water pumps, a climbing area with several towers and bridges and a couple of slides.

Tickets for the Magic Garden and Maze only can be purchased. 

There is a small kiosk offering snacks and ice cream and a small seating area.


The children loved it and I would recommend a visit.

Lauren P

I recently went to Hampton Court Palace for the Hampton Court Palace Festival. It was amazing, the grounds are so beautiful! Walking through them you can smell roses and all the other beautiful flowers throughout the air. Henry VIII did a bang up job creating his holiday home!


The festival was fantastically laid out with a great deal of thought put into not only the aesthetics but also the use of space. Their choice of food and drink vendors was spot on, they were very high-end but also reasonably priced and great value for money. The palace itself is stunning and as a music venue it is a surprisingly large with very good acoustics. I was lucky enough to get tickets to go see Tom Jones, he was spectacular, as you would expect! 


Outside the Palace there are beautiful views and lovely pubs to enjoy a beer or two in making the area as a whole well worth a leisurely pub crawl. The station was within easy walking distance to the Palace and pretty easy to get to from Central London from Vauxhall or Waterloo. I will be going back there to explore the palace further, it looks to be an especially good picnic spot!

GeorgeX
Tastemaker

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
Tastemaker

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!

Tom
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!