Tourist Attractions Travel

Hampton Court Palace

 

Few things excite me more than just being able to nerd out for the day; learn some history; be a bit silly. This was my third visit to Hampton Court. Both Sam and I went with our drama schools. For some reason, this “field trip” was a welcome to drama school activity. And then I went with a friend to one of the Jubilee open garden days for a retro themed picnic. It was awesome. But on neither of those occasions did I really take in the history and awesomeness of Hampton Court. (Possibly because the first time I was a young study abroad student on my first day in England, and the second because it was a champagne and food centred trip.) So a third trip was necessary.

 
Hampton Court Palace
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Entering through the main gates.
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The roof of the portcullis.
 
An extraordinarily brief history of Hampton Court: When Cardinal Wolsey fell from power in 1529, Henry VIII took Hampton Court for his own. (As kings tended to do.) He vastly expanded and improved the palace, and lived here up until his death. Besides Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I all lived here at one point in time. The Stuarts used the palace solely for entertaining, and it was later the country house for Cromwell. When William and Mary ascended, they didn’t like the Whitehall Palace and preferred to reside at Hampton Court. Of Henry VIII’s enormous palace, only half survives. The rest was rebuilt by William III in the baroque style.  (Versailles inspired, of course). The palace fell out of favour during the Georgian reign. Victoria undertook a massive restoration of the palace and it’s been open to the public ever since.
 
When you first enter the base court, you’ll see a sign directing you towards where you pick up the audio tour. It’s free and I 100% recommend getting it, rather than just relying on reading the various signs. It added so much more information and increased my enjoyment of the whole experience greatly. (It’s also not a dry historical lecture, there are some great moments of comedy in there as well.) You can also pick up your cloak in the audio guide room, which I obviously recommend wearing around. If you have to opportunity to wear a cloak, why would you pass it up?
 
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Sam looking ace in his cloak.
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Me being a superhero in mine.
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View from inside of the Base Court.
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The Pie Room.
 
The kitchen part of the tour is insane. Plus you learn things like the court drank approximately 600,000 gallons of beer and  300 barrels of wine in a year.  And that their diet was 90% meat. And that the average Tudor courtier ate between 4,500- 5,000 calories a day. I can see why gout was an issue.
 
Also you learned an interesting fact about those famous savoury pies England is so famous for: in Tudor times the pastry wouldn’t be eaten. It was just chucked aside. Essentially it was just there as a type of bowl you didn’t need to wash up, and a way of keeping food warm.
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Sam insisted this candid photo of me listening to the audio guide in the kitchens make it in to the post because he thinks it looks like I’m on the other end of the phone in the film “Taken”. And that makes him laugh. A lot.
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All of those slots on the fireplace are for roasting various meats.
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The Great Hall.
 
The Great Hall was where Henry VII dined with his courtiers publicly, but also where the dancing, singing, plays and other general entertainment occurred. Below you can see one of the costumed character actors trying to entertain visitors.
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When you finish viewing all of Henry’s apartments, I recommend seeing the rest of the palace in chronological order. Starting with the Stuarts then moving to the Georgians.

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The public dining room where William and Mary brought the art of napkin folding.
Yes, that horse is made of starched napkins.
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There are murals everywhere.
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My favourite part of the palace is the courtyard in the Georgian Wing.
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I made some pretty good friends in the Base Court.
 
It’s amazing interiors aside, Hampton Court is famous for it’s lush and stunning gardens. It has over 60 acres that run down to the Thames; fully restored historical gardens; an awesome hedge maze; and weirdly the oldest grape vine in the world. (230 years old.) I was most excited about the maze, but Sam and I don’t have an amazing track record finding the centre, so I think he felt less excited.
 
If you pay for entry into the palace the gardens are included in the price of your ticket. However, you can pay a much smaller charge just for entry into the gardens for a lovely summer picnic! (Although Kew Gardens still hold the special garden place in my heart hostage.)
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The Ponds Gardens
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The Georgian Wing viewed from the gardens.
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But find the centre we did! And I really felt as though I had accomplished something!
 

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Joyfully exploring the gardens.

 

 

 

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  • First off I love that you walked around in that awesome cape! And I have always enjoyed reading books from the medieval times and reading about the food they ate so this tour sounds really interesting! I

    • The food kind of grossed me out- just because there was so much of it! I understand they were much more active than society is now a days, but how were all the courtiers not obese?! x

  • Mmmmmm my own pie room…..
    Also that napkin horse is really freaky for some reason but I am also kinda sad I did not know it existed before so I could of had one at my wedding!

    • I would have LOVED if you had a napkin horse at your wedding! (There were all kinds of other animals, fish, etc.) Weird but awesome, right?! x

  • Fun!

  • I love Hampton Court! I haven’t been in yearssss though! I love the cloak!!

  • I love that you were dressing up and that you can be interactive in the museum. I also love the gardens. So cool! You really find a new hidden gem in London every week, don’t you?! πŸ˜‰

  • I love Hampton Court! Though when I went, I spent the day comforting a friend who was having problems with her boyfriend at the time. Definitely makes for a memorable experience. Haha.

  • Wow, some seriously big name residents! It always amazes me, the history in England compared to the US. Our country seems like a newborn in comparison! The first time I toured a stately home there was a grandfather clock in the entry way that was older than the organized United States!

    Looks like a fun day out. And cloaks? Awesome!

    • Thank you! I loved the cloaks too πŸ˜‰

      That’s one of the things I love about England so much- all the crazy, rich history! x

  • I love the history bits. And the last pic of you in the garden is fabulous.

    • If you’re ever in London one day, you’ll have to take a day trip out to visit. It really is truly fabulous!

      Ha and thank you! It was a 100% candid photo that Sam caught purely on accident. (Because I dance for joy more often than my blog may indicate…) x

  • So fun! I love Hampton Court, it is lovely!

  • This is awesome! I love anything that has to do with historic royalty. It’s just interesting to see how they lived, where they lived etc. I am amazed at how many calories they ate! I thought people went hungry back then?! Well..I guess they wouldn’t in a palace…but still 4500 calories!! WHOA!

    Cute boots by the way!

    • Thank you! (And my boots appreciate the compliment as well πŸ˜‰ I’d like to take credit for them, but they were actually a Christmas present from Sam.)

      i’m sure it’s because we don’t have Royals, but I am so fascinated with them! And I understand that Tudor courtiers probably had more active lifestyles than your average person now a days, but how was obesity not a problem for them?! x

  • This is on my must visit list when I go back to London. And there’s a really cool book about the kitchens of Hampton Court, if you’re interested in further reading.

  • I LOVE Hampton Court Palace, and I agree that multiple trips are necessary. I’m a little upset that the last time I went there were no cloaks on offer. Sob. Cloaks make everything better! I really enjoyed your jaunt through the palace!

    • It’s just another excuse that you can make to come back to the UK one day: doing Hampton Court with cloak πŸ™‚ Thank you! x

  • Anna

    It’s one of my faves. I got into reading a lot of Philippa Gregory historical fiction books and it made me a little obsessed with all things tudor. And you’re right, the gardens are lovely, especially on a sunny day.

    • I can’t believe that after my third visit, I’d still be up for going back. It’s truly a sign of an incredible place to visit! As a Phillippa Gregory fan it must be extra awesome for you! x

  • That looks like a fun place to visit! I mean the capes seem to make the whole thing even more fun!
    and I love picture of people skipping, it’s a dying art!

  • I love the last photo of you skipping along, looks like you had a fun day out! I have never been to Hampton Court Palace, maybe on my next trip to London though!

  • Hahaha I’m so glad it wasn’t just us that wore them! So many people were turning them down and I was like “Why?! Come on, it’s all in good fun!” x

  • I adore Hampton Court, but never saw the capes before!! They are simply awesome!

    • They are tucked away by the audio guide station, towards the exit of the kitchens section. (And they are free which is an extra perk) They come in purple as well, but I didn’t feel worthy of wearing the royal colour πŸ˜‰ x

  • I love that you and Sam are the only two wearing the capes.. at least from the pictures. πŸ™‚
    The last garden picture is so great.. you’ll have to do something with that.. for your blog. It would make a great button.

    MEAT.. wowsers.. talk about a lot of meat.. It sort of upsets my stomach imagining eating all that meat and chugging it down with endless supplies of beer and wine. Just imagine how pissed everyone was .. all of the time!?!

    • Ha, it was a pretty even split between the people who were wearing cloaks and the ones who weren’t. One group is obviously more cool. I’ll let you decide which one that is πŸ™‚

      It made me feel sick thinking of all that meat and alcohol. It sounded really awful to me actually. no wonder Henry VIII had so many wives if he was pissed all the time! xx

  • Oh happy day! I love this! πŸ™‚

  • Pie room and capes. SOLD. I’m totally going to visit this place in June I think, along with a trip to Kew Gardens as well. The list of places to see grows ever longer… we live in the best place ever. xx

    • Seriously, the best! Aim for nice weather days (especially for Kew Gardens) but obviously that’s easier said than done. x

  • This looks like so much fun! A retro picnic sounds amazing. I love that they give you capes…it made for great pictures!

    • Thank you! The retro picnic day was awesome! Everyone was in fancy 50s attire, there was a proper English village fete, a cakewalk. All things good really! x

  • How fun! I’d totally rock a cape for a day. Those trees look something from a different world.

  • Great pics! Looks like you had so much fun!

  • Jessi

    Wow great post – I agree you make it look like a fabulously fun place! And I adore the capes πŸ™‚

  • 300 barrels of wine per year? Impressive! But why don’t I have my own Pie Room? Not fair!

  • Jennica @ The Casual Wanderer

    Loving the history you shared, Amanda! It was fascinating to see the palace that were shared by royals for decades. Another fact I enjoyed was the interesting thing they do with the pastry on pies. It’s such a waste to throw it away, right? πŸ™‚

    • It seems like a huge waste! I was pretty appalled by the food consumption in general, but i couldn’t believe all the wastage. I guess it saves having to do any dishes since the pie pastry was just disposable bowls essentially! xx

      • Jennica @ The Casual Wanderer

        I agree! They really lived like kings, didn’t they? Haha! You have a point. Too bad they weren’t able to taste crusts (a part of pies that I love) πŸ™‚

  • Jennica @ The Casual Wanderer

    I have to say, your photos are amazing! What camera do you use? πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much! I just got it at the beginning of January so I’m still getting used to it! It’s a Canon EOD 1100D (basically on of the cheapest DSLRs on the market.) Currently, I’m still using the kit lens, but i’m saving up for the 50mm.

      • Jennica @ The Casual Wanderer

        I love how clear the photos look! I think I might have to invest on a good camera now instead of using my camera phone all the time πŸ™‚