Hampton Court Palace, a magnificent royal home on the outskirts of London, was once home to one of England’s most infamous kings. Building began taking place in 1514 in the parish of Hampton by Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, on the bank of the River Thames. In 1529, Wolsey was no longer in the favour of King Henry VIII so Hampton Court was seized by the crown who began to extend it.
Today the palace is open to the public and a popular tourist attraction in England, so we decided to visit on a grey day in April to see what the fuss was about.
Hampton Court Palace is easily accessible, I walked to the palace from a friends house in Teddington, it is in walking distance from many large settlements surrounding Hampton and Bushey Park. However, if you are staying in central London, the best route is to hop on a train at Waterloo, and 30 minutes later you have arrived at your destination.
For those looking to drive, the palace is located on the A308 and is signposted from major roads such as the M3 and M25 (Junction 10).
- Limited parking is available at the palace at a current cost of £1.60 per hour (pay on exit) and on Hampton Court Green (500 metres from the palace entrance) at £1.50per hour. Parking is also available at the Hampton Court train station, 200 metres from the palace (please check at the station for prices).
The palace itself is not the only attraction, however this is definitely the best place to start. For those who pre plan their trip, it is worth buying tickets online as they are a few pounds cheaper than buying at the venue, I guess this is to limit queueing time at the ticket office.
Peak prices for adults start from £20.30 (£23 at the ticket office), under 16’s start from £10.20, and under 5’s are eligible for free entry. There are also student and adult tickets available, bookings can be made here https://goo.gl/116Mdm – prices vary throughout the year and depend on which attractions you would like to visit.
Entrance into the building is through a large, imposing entrance gate, my first photo opportunity…
Everything about this building is grand, which is everything King Henry VIII wanted, in 1540 this was one of the most ambitious and sophisticated palaces in all of England.
Once inside the palace doors you are led through a number of rooms, halls and corridors, and this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about how royalty lived, and of course their servants and courtiers.
All of Henry’s six wives spent time at the palace, and lived in lavish lodgings, as well as the King’s children. Henry wanted to impress, it was important for him that he would show of his palace, and this would in turn reinforce his status of power and wealth. Even after the King’s death, the palace continued to play an important role to his heirs.
Almost as impressive as the palace itself, the gardens of Hampton Court will continue to inspire. Wander through the light floral scent and you will find yourself in acres of beautifully manicured trees, hedges, and flowerbeds.
Over the years the grounds of this grandeur palace have changed, however, the layout has stayed virtually the same since the 17th Century. The gardens you see now were constructed for the intended new palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1645. Hampton Court is also home to one of the world’s most famous mazes. Commissioned in around 1700 by King William III, the maze covers over a third of an acre and is the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze.
The Royal Family left Hampton court in 1737, the palace was then divided up and the most favourable residents were given rent-free accommodation, these were people who were seen to have served their crown and country.
In 1838 Queen Victoria decided the palace should be open to the public, and as time went on, the interest in conserving and restoring the palace to its former glory grew. The palace today looks much like it would have centuries ago, and makes a fantastic day out for children and adults alike.