Hampton Court Palace London

I have special memories of Hampton Court Palace as I was first taken to visit it by my uncle. He was an actor who had played the role of Henry VIII on the West End stage, and Hampton Court was his favourite palace.

The palace does have an interesting history as it wasn’t always owned by Henry. It was actually built by Thomas Wolsey, the Archbishop of York, who was Henry’s Lord Chancellor and the second most powerful person in England. He fell out of favour when he couldn’t get an annulment for Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, so Henry assumed ownership of Wolsey’s property.

Hampton Court Palace is located on the River Thames at East Molesey, Surrey and is easy to reach by public transport from London. It is a truly wonderful palace and is certainly worth the visit.

One of the most prominent parts of the building is the Great Hall, which is located within Henry VIII’s private apartments and is renowned for being England’s last and largest medieval hall. The walls of this massive hall are decorated with lush tapestries which depict the story of Abraham.

Henry was a generous host, who, it has to be said, enjoyed a generous meal, and his Royal Kitchens are certainly worth visiting to see how the cooks would cater for up to 600 people for each meal. These weren’t just guests, but staff and members of the household. Bearing in mind that huge fires were required to cook so many meals, conditions in the kitchens were very hot that the King often companied about his kitchen staff working naked.

The Hampton Court Chapel is magnificent. Built in 1540, it was used as a private chapel by Henry and the monarchs who followed him. It is considered to be one of the finest Tudor buildings in England and it ornately decorated. The chapel is still used for religious services today.

There are over 60 acres (26 hectares) of gardens at Hampton Court Palace which run down to the River Thames and, in season, are covered in over 200,000 blooms. The Privy Garden is a stunning symmetrical pattern which incorporates the original Tudor varieties of plants and is decorated with marble sculptures.

The Hampton Court Maze was built during the time of William III in about 1700 in order to entertain children. Today, it is considered to be the best known maze in the world, and is visited by tens of thousands of visitors each year, most of whom become bewildered at some stage trying to negotiate the maze’s many twist, turns and dead ends.

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