M and I decided to take a day trip to Hampton Court Palace last minute on our trip to London in July 2013. We weren’t quite sure what to do with our last day in London, and we knew we wanted to venture out a tad. Enter: a Royal palace to explore. Obviously Hampton Court Palace is well known for Henry VIII’s time there, but it actually wasn’t his to begin with.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey built himself Hampton Court Palace in the early sixteenth century. At the time, he was a Royal favourite, and wealthy beyond most dreams. The lavish and ornate palace was built! And then his fall from grace was punctuated by Henry VIII seizing HCP for himself…. Hampton Court is an impressive palace to walk up to. You know the moment you lay eyes on it that it is meant for those of importance. One day I will be able to take my runs here! Fun fact: When M and I were walking out, he was giving me a piggyback- some random French girls took our picture. If anyone can locate that picture, I would be eternally grateful 🙂
The detail in the stone is amazing, and I am thankful it has survived all these centuries. I would love to meet the people who restore and maintain the Historic Royal Palaces, it must be a fascinating job.
When you walk through the Gateway and look up, this is what you see. Henry VIII was an unspeakably wealthy man, and everything he owned was lavish and over-the-top. I know that people often think of the past in black and white, muted and drab colours; however, they lived in the same bright technicolour that we do today, sometimes even more so!
Henry took full advantage of the royal prerogative to hunt as much as he pleased…
This beautiful shot is the ceiling of the Watching Chamber, right beside the Great Hall. It takes a moment to realise why the room seems so light when the tapestries are darker, and then you look up. It is covered with gold leaf; the badges and coats of Jane Seymour are everywhere in this room. Anne Boleyn’s downfall happened so quickly that the workers were still installing Anne and Henry’s initials when they were abandoned for Jane’s!
Interestingly, this courtyard is almost identical to that of Holyroodhouse Palace! I would love to sit and have a quiet read here, though that might be a touch underwhelming for the location.
I didn’t realise until I was actually there that the Stuart/Georgian portion of the Palace is pretty much the entire back half. William of Orange and Mary II began remodelling the Palace (under the eye of Sir Christopher Wren) as soon as they ascended the throne. By the late Stuart era, Hampton was badly outdated and needed improvements. Unfortunately this work meant that much of the Tudor Palace was replaced. So what exactly does a Stuart/Georgian palace look like?
The Cartoon Gallery was an interesting space. It seems empty now, but hundreds of years ago would have been filled with courtiers. The paintings are also stunningly large; I could have spent an hour taking them in.
The Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber exhibit was on while we were there. While lying on giant mattresses, this is what you look up to see. I feel like you don’t have a fireplace unless it is flanked by two footmen carved into the stone work….
And of course, the King’s Staircase. These wraparound murals are breath-taking, and you certainly know whose staircase this is. I still love the King’s Staircase at Kensington a little bit more, but Hampton’s is more open to the light. It is difficult to understand just how much work went into a project like this, how many hours kneeling on a scaffold. M and I never figured out how to get into the gardens unfortunately, so this is where we finished!
Have you been to Hampton Court Palace? What stood out to you?