Hampton Court Palace

This is Hampton Court Palace. It's located about 24 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of central London. The weather was mild and when the sun came out it made for a very pleasant tour.

Hampton Court Palace Entrance
In 1514, Thomas Wolsey (Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor and cardinal) bought the site on the River Thames and built his home there. This 'home' soon became a magnificent palace with 280 rooms and vast gardens. Several years later, Henry VIII hinted that Hampton Court Palace was far more opulent than his own palace and Wolsey being no fool... gave Hampton Court Palace to the King as a gift.

Our tour guide from Evan Evans Tours was very informative and recounted the history of the Palace with great detail. Henry VIII extended the Palace by adding more rooms and kitchens, a library, towers and the Water Gallery. Five of the king's six wives lived in the Palace and Anne Boleyn's initials can still be seen in the Great Hall. A terrific book on the subject of Henry's six wives was written by Alison Weir. After Henry's death, Princess Elizabeth, lived in and was held under guard in the Water Gallery because Queen Mary (her sister), suspected her of being involved in a plot to usurp the throne. This was also a place where Queen Elizabeth entertained and held councils including the one that decided on the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
Hampton Court Palace Court Yard

Hampton Court Palace Back View
There are several stories of hauntings at Hampton Court. One involves Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII. In November 1541, Catherine was charged with adultery and placed under house arrest. It is said that she broke free from her guards and ran down the gallery to reach her husband and plead for her life. (We stood in that very gallery!) The guards dragged her back and Catherine was later executed at the Tower of London. It is said that a female form, dressed in white, has been seen floating down the Haunted Gallery, just as she reaches the door, she has been seen to hurry back all dishevelled and a ghastly look of despair, shrieking until she passes through the door at the end of the gallery. Oooooo, scary stuff! In 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to the future King Edward VI at Hampton court. The baby prince was christened in the beautiful Chapel Royal a few days later. Sadly, soon after Edward's birth, Jane became ill and died in the Palace only two weeks after giving birth to Edward.

There are 60 acres of beautiful gardens! Due to the fact that we were in the UK in the late spring/early summer, the gardens weren't overrun with tourists and the flowers were at their best. These gardens were very well kept and went on as far as the eye could see.
Hampton Court Palace Gardens

Hampton Court Palace Gardens
The winding paths of the world-famous maze cover over 1,350 sq metres. Hampton Court Palace is also home to the world's oldest known grapevine which still produces up to 700lbs (318kgs) of grapes each year. We saw this incredible vine in the greenhouse where it is kept. I purchased a bottle of delicious brambleberry brandy at Hampton Court Palace. Notice how the coloured flowers form a pattern in this garden? The pictures don't really do it justice. English gardens are truly beautiful.

This little alley takes us into the Tudor kitchens. They are immense! The day we visited there were various demonstrations going on. Guides were dressed in period costume and were cooking meals in the kitchens. They showed us the kinds of spices used in cooking and baking. They were also making bread and it smelled yummy. The huge fires were lit and warmed the rooms considerably.

I had read so much about Hampton Court that having the chance to actually walk in and around the Palace was an amazing experience.

Hampton Court Palace Alley

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Windsor Castle

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