Do you love visiting castles, palaces, and gardens? Or perhaps you are looking for new places to explore outside central London? Then Hampton Court Palace is for you. It’s located on the banks of the River Thames in London Borough of Richmond about one hour away by train from the city centre. Visitors can immerse themselves in the vast Tudor Kitchens, climb the stairs to the magnificent Great Hall and Tudor State Apartments, and gaze down on the Chapel Royal from the Royal Pew. You are invited to venture into the enormous Queen's State Apartments in the Georgian Palace. Also, don't forget to visit the splendid Royal Gardens.
A glimpse of the palace history
Construction works of Hampton Court Palace began in the early 16th century. Shortly afterwards King Henry VIII took it over creating an ornate royal palace with quarters for his new queen, Anne Boleyn, royal council chambers, and a glorious Great Hall to serve as the heart of palace life. Nowadays there are two palaces at Hampton Court: the first one is the Tudor Palace owned by Henry VIII, while the second palace is a baroque masterpiece designed in the 17th century for the Royal couple William and Mary. The Baroque Palace is surrounded by superb formal gardens.
When coming from the railway station, you will approach the palace from its older red brick side with red chimneys, and I must admit that it looks very impressive. There are over 240 red Tudor chimneys of various designs around Hampton Court.
Entering the palace
Crossing the bridge to the palace entrance, have a look at ten statues of heraldic animals called the King’s Beasts, and stand on the bridge over the moat leading to the great gatehouse. These statues of lions, dragons, yale, panther, bull, and unicorn represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour.The palace buildings are built around three courtyards: Base Court, Clock Court, and Fountain Court. After passing the entrance gate, you will find yourself in the first yard with colourful well and painted figures in captivating postures. Then make your way to the Court Kitchen.
Henry VIII’s Tudor Kitchens
Exploring the Royal kitchens will make you understand what a big job it was to feed King’s Court, which consisted of over one thousand people. The kitchen was the place where Henry VIII's banquets were prepared. You will find the tools, virtual stories, and other artefacts of this big production to feed many royal dinners at the palace.
The main decoration of the Clock Court is an awesome astronomical clock designed by the Bavarian master Nicholas Cratzer in 1540. At over 3 metres in diameter, it is an imposing sight, set in the clock tower that overlooks the courtyard. Not only does it tell the hour, the day, and the month, but it also shows the phases of the moon, the signs of the zodiac, the movement of the sun, and the time of high tide at London Bridge.
Then continue your visit to, in my opinion, the most impressive room of the Tudor Palace, the Great Hall.
The Great Hall sits at the very heart of the Tudor Palace, towering over the surrounding buildings. It was designed to impress and to proclaim Henry VIII’s power and magnificence. To celebrate Henry and Anne's marriage in the early 16th century, Anne's coat-of-arms was added to the roof and the entwined letters H and A were carved on the wooden screen at the end of the Great Hall. Look out for the 'Eavesdroppers' – the carved and painted heads that decorate the roof of the Great Hall.
On the walls of the Great Hall hang a series of tapestries showing scenes from the life of the patriarch Abraham from the Book of Genesis. They were woven in Brussels from wool, silk, and gold and silver thread.
The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace is one of the country’s most beautiful places of worship. Just a few people realise that its services are open to everyone. The Chapel Royal also has an internationally renowned choir. You will marvel at the stunning crown of the Henry III exhibited at the Royal Pew.
After visiting Tudor’s Hampton leap forward a few hundred years and enter a stately elegance in the apartments built for the Queen Mary II and her co-ruler, William III at the end of the 17th century. The apartment block have their own staircase and suites. The King's Staircase features fabulous murals by Antonio Verrio. The King's Staircase leads to the Guard Chamber, which is packed with a massive collection of weapons from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Take your time to visit other great rooms of the awesome Baroque Palace.
Hampton Court Palace’s world-famous gardens include 24 hectares of spectacular formal gardens and 304 hectares of parkland, all set within a loop of the River Thames. The gardens are home to the world's oldest puzzle maze, a record-breaking grapevine, three National Plant Collections, over one million flowering bulbs in the Wilderness, and a huge variety of wildlife.
The palace is located approximately ten minutes’ walk from Hampton Court Station. You can use your Oyster card to pay for your travel. I guess you will need at least half a day for your visit. If you have more time you will find plenty of things to do regardless.Like it? pin it!
What did you think? Have you been to Hampton Court Palace? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.
Posted by Anita on October 30,2020Author: Anita Sane
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Bloglovin.