I was really excited about coming to Hampton Court Palace again because I am a bit of a geek! I am fascinated by history, in particular that of the royal family. I find it interesting to learn about the way in which they lived, their attire and even their roles in the palace. So, Isabella-Grace, one of my best friends and I embarked on a little day trip to Hampton Court. The train ride was quite quick, we stopped off to have a late lunch before arriving at the palace. On arrival, I went to collect my ticket and my Hampton Court book, I pre-ordered both online to be collected on the day of our visit.
When we finally got in to the palace, the floor was unbelievably rocky! I made a joke that Henry VIII clearly did not like pushchairs, but of course in his time I don't think they even used pushchairs or prams!
Thankfully there was a buggy park to leave Bella's pushchair and a huge locker for us to put away our valuables. We went to Henry VIII's chambers first and although I had been here before (this was like when I was 7!) I was excited to see his room, his royal bed and his royal garments. Imagine my disappointment when I saw neither of these things. I had learnt that a lot of the palace was destroyed by a great fire hence why they were not available for us to see.
(Please excuse the horrible glare on the picture above it was really hard to take a picture of this image of Henry VIII because of the glare).
I loved the decor on the walls and most of the ceilings. It must have taken days to complete these fabulous rooms. Portraits of Henry VIII and his family were placed in sight for all to see. He sat proudly in one portrait with his then family surrounding him, whilst in another portrait he stood up looking at whoever passed through that corridor.
We moved on to look at Henry VIII's great hall. There were a lot of people around, so it was difficult to get a full picture of the set up, however below you can see a glimpse of where Henry VIII and his family would have had their meals.
The Cumberland Art Gallery featured some stunning artwork. The gallery was actually named after Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. We were told that we could not take pictures of the gallery because a few of the items were on loan to the palace.
There was also a long hallway featuring some exquisite portraits of many different women which I believe were known as ‘The Hampton Court Beauties,’ but each model in the paintings looked so sad. It made me wonder why none of them were smiling and what their lives were like back then. Perhaps it was customary in those days to not smile for portraits, either way the paintings were beautiful as were their gowns. Sir Godfrey Kneller is the master behind the portraits and Queen Mary II commissioned them.
The chapel was absolutely breath-taking! The seraphim were on the ceiling lights and each detail was very well thought out. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures of the chapel or Henry VIII's crown. Bella enjoyed looking at the chapel and at Henry VIII's replicate crown, she said "hat!" to which we laughed and I told her it was a crown. After visiting the chapel, we went to see the young Henry VIII's section where it shed more light on his life as a teenager. We thought how different his life would have been if he had stayed married to Katherine of Aragon whom he was married to for 20 years.
Above is a family tree, though the wording is not clear in this particular image it gives a detailed list of who was in the Tudor family.
The chocolate kitchens were apparently hidden for a number of years, but in 2014 they were reopened to the public. The chocolate kitchens were built for William and Mary in 1689, but George I and George II were the main users. It is said that both the Georgian kings were very fond of hot chocolate! Thomas Tosier was George I’s personal chocolate maker and I am sure that his chocolate was served to him with style! They were quite small and rather ordinary, well ordinary for those days. I did not find anything particularly fancy or thought-provoking about them.
Some of Henry VIII’s kitchen’s were not accessible to visitors, but we did get a sneak peek of what one of the kitchen areas would have looked like back in Henry VIII’s day. There was a set up where artificial meat was placed and it looked repulsive! There were sound effects of chopping the meat and someone possibly a butcher or chef walking around the kitchen. We quickly walked away from that section into the smaller part where there were great wooden shelves stacked with different concoctions. We did not get to see the great kitchen or the wine cellar as I believe they were off limits.
We did not look at William III’s apartments mainly because of the time, there was so much art and beautiful things to take in., so I looked at things relating to Henry VIII first. We took a stroll to the big fountain, it was chained off so we could not get any closer to it, but it was such a lovely view as were the gardens and the maze.
We took a stroll around the exquisite gardens and stopped to take in many of the beautiful flower beds. Bella is obsessed with flowers and wanted me to pick one, but I explained that I could not, she was a bit upset, although she enjoyed looking at the swan and the baby cygnets.
We visited The Great Fountain Garden this was formerly where Henry VIII did some of his hunting. It is a very elaborate and spacious garden featuring many different flower beds. It has 13 fountains with the central fountain surrounded by Yew trees.
We also visited the Royal Tennis Court, I was expecting it to be a large outdoor court, but it was in fact built indoors! The Magic Garden and some other areas were closed off because of the flower show preparation.
The maze was the last place we went to and we had a lot of fun trying to figure our way out. It took us about 15 minutes, lots of twisting and turning and perseverance until we found ‘Exit!’ Oh, the joy we felt!
If history is your thing, I would definitely encourage you to visit Hampton Court Palace to get some insight into the secrets of the palace. You must stop off to have a nice picnic if the weather is nice because the gardens are amazing. We enjoyed the gardens a lot more than the palace and that is mainly because I expected to see more of Henry VIII’S life and his royal chambers. However, the gardens and beautiful portraits made up for this. I feel that if a place of interest is open to the public, so long as all areas are deemed appropriate and safe then why hide them?! It is quite frustrating because we do not get the full picture of the palace as we are restricted from seeing certain areas. Maybe one day to come they will allow visitors to see the restricted areas.
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