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    Hampton Court Palace: a Tudor-style castle - London tips

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    Peter Dragicevich
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    Hampton Court Palace is located about twenty kilometers southwest of Greater London in the district of Richmond upon Thames. This magnificent palace, the favorite residence of Henry VIII, combines two architectural styles.
    One Tudor which is the work of Cardinal Wolsey, the other Baroque, largely built by Sir Christopher Wren at the end of the XNUMXth century.



    Along with Saint James Palace, Hampton Court Palace is one of only two palaces still intact today


     

    What is the history of Hampton Court Palace?

     

    Hampton Court Palace was built in the early 1529th century to serve as the residence of Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of York and Minister of Henry VIII. In XNUMX, the king confiscated the palace from his minister, judging that a Catholic did not deserve such a prestigious residence!

    Hampton then became the king's favorite residence, which he enlarged and furnished with tapestries, antiques and paintings.



    Over the centuries, the royal residence has never ceased to be embellished by the various successors. The last major reshuffle took place during the reign of William III who hired Sir Christopher Wren to build a new elegant Baroque palace.

    In 1717, the future King George II and Queen Caroline were the last monarchs to settle in Hampton, before it was opened to the public by Queen Victoria in 1838.

    On March 31, 1986, the king's apartments were devastated by flames. Repairs will take six years.

     

    The great room


     

    Built around 1530 for Henry VIII, the Great Hall is a splendor of the Tudor court. Beautifully decorated, it is adorned with a superb carved and openwork wooden ceiling and Flemish tapestries telling the story of Abraham.

    It was in this room that the whole court gathered for lavish banquets and entertained themselves.

     

    Tudor kitchens

     


    Built between 1530 and 1737, the kitchens were the largest in England. Two daily meals for more than 800 people were prepared on huge open fire stoves.

     

    The works of art at Hampton Court Palace

    Hampton Court Palace is a castle rich in works of art with paintings by the great masters, some of Henry VIIII's most iconic portraits and tapestries.
    It is impossible to list them all but here are the most remarkable works to discover during your visit.

     

    Among the rich collections are the Triumphs of Caesar. These nine paintings, painted between 1486 and 1492 by the Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna, are among the finest achievements of Renaissance art.

     

     


     

    Just like at Banqueting House, works by Dutch painter Rubens are also present in Hampton. We can admire "Diana and her nymphs watched by satyrs" and "Pythagoras advocating vegetarianism"

     

    The astronomical clock

     

    Commissioned by Henry VIII in 1540, this immense astronomical clock indicates the months, the days, the signs of the zodiac, the phases of the sun and those of the moon.

     

    Hampton Court Palace Gardens

     

    Like the palace, the gardens have evolved over the reigns of the various monarchs. A visit to the gardens is a must because of rare beauty and rich in activities.

    To discover with the family, the magical garden where there are interactive games, aerial walkways, a fire-breathing dragon or an underground cave.
    Children will also enjoy the plant maze, considered the oldest in the UK. Trapezoidal in shape, this labyrinth was created in the 1690s for the pleasure of King William III of Orange. It offers a complex route of interlacing yew walls and requires about twenty minutes to reach its center, before finding the exit ...

    Finally, the Great Vine - or Great Vine - is one of Hampton Court's most famous attractions. Today it is considered to be the oldest vineyard in the world. The production is sold each year from the end of August to September in the shops of the palace.

     

    Real Tennis Court

    This tennis court is the work of Cardinal Wolsey whom he had built in 1526 and 1529. Henry VIII, Charles I and William III were inveterate players.

    Not to be confused with lawn tennis, real tennis is played on a covered court with four walls of irregular sizes. It is played with asymmetrical pear-shaped racquets and cloth balls much harder than those used for lawn tennis.

    Today, the Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court is home to a club of over 500 members. It is also one of the few courts in the world where the public can watch this intriguing sport.

    The court is officially open during the summer months. However, during my visit in November, I was able to attend training.

    If you want, you can play Real Tennis. To do this, contact 0208 977 3015 or info@royaltenniscourt.com

    How long does it take to visit Hampton Court Palace?

    Allow at least half a day to discover the palace and its gardens. The visit can last for a day if you picnic in the gardens and participate in all the activities.

    Guided tours

    Free guided tours in English are offered daily. Guides in period costumes recount scandals and court rumors.

    If you do not master the language of Shakespeare, free audio guides in French are available at reception. They will let you know the history and scandals of the court.

    Events at Hampton Court Palace

    Semi-marathon

    Le semi-marathon “Palace Half” is a flat, scenic route that begins and ends inside Hampton Court Palace. The event takes place every year in March.

    Information and reservations on the event website.

    music Festival

    In June, a music festival takes place in the magnificent Tudor courtyard of the castle. Possibility of picnic before the concert.

    Information and reservations on the Seetickets site.

    Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

    Here is the largest flower fair in the world which is held every year at the beginning of July.

    Information and reservations on the Seetickets site.

    The rink

    Each year from late November to early January, a rink is installed opposite the entrance to the castle. A unique and majestic setting for skating!

    Where can I buy tickets to visit Hampton Court Palace?

    You can book your entry either on the GetYourGuide website either on the Great Britain Tourist Board website.

    The visit to the palace is included in 3 tourist passes, namely:

    • le London Pass which offers a 10% discount at the castle gift shops and the Tiltyard Cafe (restrictions may apply).
    • le London Explorer Pass, gives access to around twenty London tourist sites: historical monuments, attractions and city tours.

    • le Royal Pass, offers priority access to the three most famous royal palaces in London, namely the Tower of London, Kensington Palace et Hampton Court Palace.

    The entrance to Hampton Court is free for children less than 5 years old.

    What are the opening hours of Hampton Court Palace?

    Summer: March 25 - October 27

    Monday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 00 p.m.
    Last admission at 17:00 p.m.

    Winter: October 28 - March 30

    Monday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 00 p.m.
    Last admission at 15:30 p.m.

    Closed from December 24 to 26.

    How do I get to Hampton Court Palace?

    Boat

    Without a doubt, the most enjoyable route! The journey from Westminster to Hampton Court can take up to four hours.
    Please note that cruises may be canceled in the event of bad weather.

    Information and reservation on the website of the company Thames River Boats

    By train

    The fastest way is to take the South West Trains line from Waterloo Station. Get off at Hampton Court station which is located in zone 6, around XNUMX minutes from central London.
    To get to the castle, use your OysterCard ou Travelcard by recharging them with the amount necessary to make the round trip.

    When you arrive at the station, do not forget to validate your transport card so as not to have a penalty. Unlike London, there are no barriers to exit.

    Finally, the castle is just a 5-minute walk from the station.

    Where is Hampton Court Palace located?

    Address : Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU

    Conclusion

    With the Tower of London, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace, Hampton Court Palace is one of five historic royal castles open to the public in the London area.

    Just like the Windsor Castle ou Buckingham Palace, a visit to Hampton Court Palace is a must for anyone interested in the history of the English monarchy.

    Book on Visit Britain Book on GetYourGuide  

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