Hampton Court Palace

I have always dreamed of going to England to explore old castles and the last day of our London trip, I had planned a day out of the city. We started early a Sunday morning and took the train to the borough of Richmond, 18.8 kilometre south-west of central London, to Hampton Court Palace. It took 35 minutes from Waterloo station to Hampton Court, and it was great to get out of the city and see some of the English country side.

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I had seen Hampton Court Palace in The Tudors television series about King Henry VIII’s reign, and I find the Tudor architecture very fascinating. I was therefore very thrilled to see this palace in real life.

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The Clock Court

Building of the palace started in 1515 by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who was close to King Henry VIII. When Wolsey fell in disgrace, the king acquired the palace and started to enlarge it. Hampton Court is one of only two surviving palaces of the many owned by King Henrik VIII.

We started our tour around the palace with Henry VIII Apartments, kitchens and the story of the young Henry VIII. We then moved on to William III’s Apartments, followed by Mary II’s Apartments and the Georgian Private Apartments.

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Decorative Tudor brick chimneys

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Between 1532 and 1535 Henry added the Great Hall which was the last medieval great hall built for the English monarchy. The Great Hall has an amazing carved hammer-beam roof. During Tudor times, this was the most important room of the palace where the King would dine at a table upon a raised dais.

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Stained glass windows in the Great Watching Chamber.

The Great Watching Chamber is built in connection with the Great Hall. This is where the Royal Guards would stand guard and watch over the royal family. It was one of the original state rooms built by Henry VIII who used it to entertain those of his guests that had the rank of baron or more. The ceiling of the Great Watching Chamber is covered with gold leaf and still has Jane Seymour’s (the third wife of King Henry VIII) badge on it. This room has also been decorated with Henry VIII’s surviving tapestries – just like the Great Hall. Most of this room remains the same as it was when Henry VIII lived there except for the fireplace which has been replaced later.

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Henry VIII’s first building project at Hampton Court was vast kitchens capable of feeding his court of 1,000 people. I wonder what it was like to work in this kitchen and cook for so many people.

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By the 17th century trends had changed and the Tudor palace began to feel outdated. When William of Orange and his Stuart wife, Mary, took over the throne in 1689, a grand renovation was in order. William and Mary looked to Europe for inspiration, particularly to the French Court at Versailles. The initial plans had been to demolish the entire Tudor palace, with the exception of the Great Hall but, but fortunately for us, neither time nor money allowed for this to go ahead.

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The Fountain Court

The eastern and southern facades of Hampton Court were transformed and out-dated Tudor buildings were replaced with an elegant and extravagant baroque design that overlooked the Formal Gardens.

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The Grand King’s Staircase.

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The Presence Chamber was considered the official throne room of the palace.

P1010046The Great Bedchamber, but this is not where the King slept but a ceremonial room where he would dress in the morning and disrobe in the evening.  The room is decorated with gilded furniture, beautiful tapestries and a luxurious bed covered with rich crimson taffeta curtains and bedding.  The King would retire into the adjacent smaller bedchamber to sleep.

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The King’s toilet

P1010048On the main floor of the King’s State Apartments is the Orangery paved in a distinctive pattern of purple and grey Swedish limestone.  The Orangery is a type of greenhouse where orange trees and bay trees were kept in the winter months, in the summer the trees would be moved outside onto the terrace which lead to the Privy Gardens.

P1010049Located at the end of the Orangery are several rooms that King William used for private entertaining, like this Dining Room. In the Dining Room, the table is set for an intimate dinner with the finest linens and gold plate serving pieces.

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P1010029The Communication Gallery was so named because it linked the King’s and Queen’s apartments. The walls are lined with dark oak timber panelling and there is an equally plain grey marble fireplace in the centre.

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The Queen’s Staircase.

P1010031The first room in the Queen’s State Apartments is the Guard Chamber with the intricate carved fireplace.

P1010036The Drawing Room was the most important and exclusive rooms of the Queen’s State Apartments. This is also the room where Queen Caroline would set up several card tables in the evening for entertainment.

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The Queen’s State Bedchamber and is furnished with the original bed.

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P1010027The Cartoon Gallery, with copies of the Raphael Cartoons, which served as a link to pass into the queen and king apartments.

The Queen’s Private Bedchamber and Bathroom in The Cumberland Suite.

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After the tour inside the palace we had lunch at The Fountain Court Café before we went out to explore the beautiful garden.

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After a long day at the palace it was time to say goodbye and take the train back to the city.

Visiting Hampton Court Palace was like exploring two different castles; one Tudor palace and one Baraque palace. I loved the old part of the palace, but the newer part is also so beautiful. Hampton Court Palace is my absolute favorite of the London palaces, and I hope one day I will get to see this amazing palace again.

Thank you for reading!

 

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