It’s the 500th Anniversary of Hampton Court Palace and the celebrations are just beginning!
Five hundred years ago, Cardinal Wolsey, trusted advisor to King Henry VIII, commissioned builders to lay the foundations of Hampton Court Palace, planning to build a palace to rival those in Europe. Sadly, by 1529, Wolsey had fallen from favour and was forced surrender Hampton Court to Henry VIII. Henry VIII continued to enlarge the palace and it became the centre of court life for many years.
Now lovingly looked after by Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court Palace is a treasure-trove of beautiful objects, history and intrigue. It is a wonderful place to spend a day, perhaps never more so than this year as so many events and celebrations are being held to mark its five hundredth anniversary!
Costumed interpreters always make the palace come alive and this year that is set to continue with a programme of live performance running every day from Easter.
The anniversary celebrations begin in ernest with a spectacular evening event on April 3, 4 and 5th. The Party: 500 Years of Hampton Court Palace will be an evening of music and food through the ages, which will climax with a stunning son et lumiére show in the Privy Garden. There will be a programme of live period music in the Tudor and Queen’s Apartments and pop up food and drink bars. If you fancy a more sophisticated celebration, there will be a champagne bar in the Cartoon Gallery upstairs in the Baroque Palace. A unique projection mapped show with specially commissioned music will tell the story of Hampton Court Palace’s 500 years and the evening will finish with a fireworks spectacular over the palace.
The celebrations continue all year. From Easter until the end of August, the Tudor kitchens will be filled with the smell of roasting meat. You can taste five centuries of food in the Privy Kitchen and Tiltyard and every day at 16.00 you can toast to the next 500 years of Hampton Court Palace with a glass of wine from Henry VIII’s own fountain in Base Court. On 11 and 12 July visitors can experience an immersive Tudor celebration and on 8 and 9 August they can visit Queen Anne’s pleasure palace and gardens with music, intrigue and entertainments.
There’s plenty for the children to do as well. In the Easter holidays they can help with the Movie Maker Mission in conjunction with Aardman Animations (Wallace and Grommit, Chicken Run) by attending workshops where they can create drawings, sound effects and music to be used in the final film. You can watch the film develop throughout the year on the HRP website. In May half term, intrepid historians aged 7 to 14 can experience a Time Quake which causes characters from the palaces 500 year history to return! The children will then follow a young explorer guide on a mission to find them, visiting parts of the palace where visitors are normally not allowed to go – through secret passages, down hidden staircases and behind closed doors. (Seriously, I would have loved to do this when I was a kid! Who am I kidding? I’d enjoy it now!)
With a unique season of events and new experiences, 2015 promises to be an exciting year at Hampton Court Palace. To find out more and book tickets for special events visit www.hrp.org.uk.
All photographs are courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces and used with permission. Hampton Court Palace is one of my favourite palaces in England and I’ve spent many wonderful days here with my family. I hope you will visit if you can and also support the work of Historic Royal Palaces as my husband and I do.