Hampton Court Palace
Visiting Hampton Court Palace Is A Great Day Out
If you want a fun day out filled with an abundance of history, a beautiful setting and glorious gardens, you should visit Hampton Court Palace. This palace of two halves is filled with important historical artifacts from the Tudor, William of Orange, Queen Anne and Georgian periods.
Visiting Hampton Court Palace is a great day out for all the family, there is lots to see and do and facilities are accomodating for babies, children and people with mobilty problems.
Hampton Court Palace is steeped in history, with one half of the palace being Tudor in design, and the other Baroque. This palace is an enchanting place to visit and a guaranteed day out to remember for ever.
Visiting Hampton Court Palace
On arrival at Hampton Court Palace you will have many options. There are six key routes to choose from to begin your exploration of the palace and grounds. You can start with Henry VIII's Apartments, Young Henry VIII's Story, Henry VIII's Kitchens, Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar, Willian III's Apartments, Mary II's Apartments, Georgian Private Apartments or the Palace Gardens.
I would highly recommend spending an entire day at Hampton Court Palace as the palace and grounds have so much to offer, it's best to spend a leisurely day exploring than visiting after lunch and having a rushed experience.
I've personally experienced Hampton Court Palace both ways, with a place as vast and rich with things to see and do, a trip lasting a couple of hours doesn't give you the real experience.
Things To See And Do In The Grounds Of Hampton Court
Once you have stepped through the main entrance (and possibly encountered Henry VIII or another historical figure associated with Hampton Court!) into the Base Court you will then chose your initial route.
You of course don't have to take any fixed route, you can simply wander around as you please, though in order to see everything that the palace and grounds have to offer, it makes navigation easier if you do follow the routes. Hampton Court is a huge place that takes hours to fully explore if you want the full tour.
No visit to Hampton Court would be complete without a leisurely wander around the Hampton Court Maze. Covering a third of an acre (around 1350 sq metres), the winding paths amount to nearly half a mile (0.8 km) and the aim of the maze is to discover the center. For any maze aficionado's, the Hampton Court maze won't be too taxing, but it is still a fun addition to the day, and most people will find it a challenge to reach the center and then find the maze exit.
Other things to note around the vast grounds are the 230 year old vine planted by Capability Brown (If you visit in August you can buy the grapes from the palace shops!), privvy gardens, pond gardens, rose garden, great fountain garden and lots and lots more.
In the Great Fountain Garden you will find a horse drawn train that will take you on a 15 minute tour of the garden with fun and interesting facts from the guide. This is a really relaxing, picturesque short tour that is really worth paying the extra £4.00 for, especially in sunny weather!
Hampton Court Palace - Tudor and Baroque
What's the deal with Hampton Court being a palace of two halves? No doubt most, if not all of the photos you will have seen of Hampton Court Palace feature the front of the palace, the Tudor part. But at the back of the palace overlooking the beautiful great fountain garden is the Baroque part.
Henry VIII was responsible for pretty much all of the Tudor section. Over the course of ten years he spent £62,000 rebuilding and extending Hampton Court. The Palace was finished in around 1540. Over 100 years later in 1689, William III commissioned Sir Christopher Wren (who would later go on to build St Paul's Cathederal) to rebuild Hampton Court and in doing so, demolish the entire Tudor palace that Henry VIII had created, all except the great hall.
William III was extremely hasty with the build, he wanted fast results. Due to the excessive speed at which the build was progressing and the poor quality of materials being used, a large section of the new build collapsed killing two builders and injuring eleven.
Building resumed, but with more care and attention. Between April 1689 and March 1694, £113,000 was spent on the build. In late 1694 Mary II, William's wife died leaving him devastated and uninterested in finishing the build.
In 1697 building commenced and the King's apartments were finished in 1700, but money was now sparse. In 1702 William III died from complications from a horse fall and the palace remained in two halves, Tudor and Baroque.
Luckily for those of us interested in Tudor history the palace was never fully demolished, the build worked in sections and never got around the finishing what William III envisaged. Lots of Henry VIII's Hampton Court thankfully still exists and there are some amazing things to see.
Step Back In Time At Hampton Court
Things to see in each section:
Henry VIII's Apartments
The Great Hall, Horn Room, Great Watching Chamber, Pages Chamber, Haunted Gallery (said to be haunted by Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII) and The Chapel Royal.
The Tudor Kitchens
The Kitchen Courtyards, Boiling House, Fish Court, Great Kitchens, The Dressers, Serving Place and North Cloister and The Cellars.
The Wolsey Rooms and Renaissance Picture Gallery
The King's Apartments (William III)
The Kings Staircase, Guard Chamber, Presence Chamber, Eating Room, Privy Chamber, Withdrawing Room, Great Bedchamber, Little Bedchamber, Closet (actually a study!), Back Stairway, East Closet, Middle Closet, West Closet, The Orangery, Private Drawing Room and Private Dining Room.
The Queen's State Apartments (originally for Mary II, later updated and added to by Queen Anne, George II and Queen Caroline)
The Queen's Staircase, Guard Chamber, Presence Chamber, Public Dining Room, Audience Chamber, Drawing Room, State Bedchamber, Gallery, Closet and the Room Of The Ladies Of The Bedchamber.
The Georgian Rooms (George II and Queen Caroline and children)
The Cumberland Suite (George and Caroline's second son) - The Duke's Presence Chamber, Bedchamber, Withdrawing Room.
The Wolsey Closet, Communication Gallery and Cartoon Gallery.
The Queen's Private Apartments - Private Drawing Room, Private Bedchamber, Dressing Room and Bathroom, Closet, Private Dining Room, Sideboard Room, Private Oratory and Caithness Staircase.
Hampton Court Facilities
If you are making a day of your visit to Hampton Court there are plenty of facilities you might need. The toilets are kept to a high standard and are located both inside the palace and gardens. Baby changing facilities are available, as is a buggy park and bag store. Wheelchair access is well utilised and there are two places to get lunch.
The Tiltyard is a cafe that serves hot and cold food, it has a decent choice if you are looking for a meal to fill you up, but the quality of food isn't that great.
The Privy Kitchen Cafe located inside the palace has less choice and serves mainly cold dishes.
If you are going to Hampton Court Palace, especially as a family, I would recommend taking a picnic. There are a wealth of gorgeous places to sit, either on the grass or on a bench and the scenery is idilic.You will be saving yourself money too as eating at Hampton Court is expensive for the quality of food served. There's also no meal choices for people with food intolerances.
If you are visiting Hampton Court, have a fantastic day! Remember to wear comfortable shoes, you will be doing a lot of walking!