Thursday, 10 May 2012

Touristy Stuff: Hampton Court Palace

In an attempt to see all things British prior to my final few months here (knock on wood), I decided that {Hampton Court Palace} would be my next stop. So one rainy Saturday, Jamie and I took the train from Vauxhall to Hampton Court (you can use your Oyster), and spent the day exploring the palace, its gardens, and got lost in its maze (sort of). Here is what I've learned:

If you've watched the Tudor's on HBO, some of this may sound familiar to you - it's where most of my British history comes from unfortunately. Hampton Court Palace was originally called the manor of Hampton in 1236 and was used by the Knights Hospitallers of St John Jerusalem for storage. In 1494 it was leased to a courtier who eventually became Lord Chamberlain to King Henry VII, who often hosted the royal family. In 1514, several years after the death of their first tenant, the Knights Hospitallers granted a 99 year lease to Thomas Wolsey, then the archbishop of York. He soon became a Cardinal and Lord Chancellor of England, and was also a close friend and eventual chief minister of the new king, Henry VIII. Wolsey transformed the house into a palace, adding private chambers for himself and three suites for the new royal family: one each for King Henry VIII, Queen Katherine of Aragon and their daughter Princess Mary.

In 1520 Henry wanted a divorce from Katherine because she didn't have a male heir, and plus, he was then seeing Anne Boleyn. When the Pope wouldn't grant his divorce, the King then took Hampton Court Palace from Cardinal Wolsey in 1528. Over 10 years, Henry VIII spent more than £62,000 (that's like 18 million today) rebuilding Hampton Court. Out of all the houses the King owned, Hampton Court Palace was apparently his favourite. Work ceased in 1694 and resulted in the palace having 2 contrasting architectural styles -- Tudor and Baroque. After Henry died in 1547, both his daughters spent time there, as well as King James in 1604, his son Charles I, and his wife Henrietta Maria. After the execution of King Charles I, The property belonged to the Commonwealth, and was presided over by Oliver Cromwell. After being largely ignored, in 1689, William of Orange and his wife, Queen Mary II rebuilt much of Hampton Court Palace. This rebuild replaced half of the Tudor palace.
After the death of Queen Mary, King William lost interest in the renovations, and work ceased. in 1702 he died from riding related injuries and was succeeded by Queen Anne, who continued decoration and completion of the state apartments at the palace. The last monarchs to reside at Hampton court were Queen Anne's successor George I and his son George II. 1737 was the final year the royal family used the entire palace.

Hampton Court Palace

The King's Privy Chamber

View of the gardens

View of the gardens from the Palace

The Queen's Bathroom
Jamie and I made it to the centre of the maze!

Wine fountain in the courtyard -- how awesome would that be?

Henry VIII's throne

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