500 Years of Hampton Court Palace

500th Anniversary Hampton Court Palace

King Henry VIII, played by Chris Bailey, with wardens – (left to right) Caroline Webb, Sheila Dunsmore and Richard Sewell – Photo courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces

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 Guides - Visiting Hampton Court Palace

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.

500th Birthday Celebrations at Hampton Court Palace
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.

Hampton Court Palace

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!)

Hampton Court Palace 500th Birthday Celebrations

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. 

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1291 great articles for us.
April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.
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  1. Looks like a wonderful programme of events and I agree, the tour of secret passages and hidden parts would be very cool.
    I used to live just a couple of miles away from Hampton Court, across Bushy Park. It’s wonderful to arrive at the palace by river and/or spend some time exploring its lovely gardens, too.

    • I really wish I lived closer, Pauline. It’s a bit of a journey from here oddly enough – Reading is great for getting to so many places, but it’s complicated/time consuming to get to that side of town 🙂

  2. This all looks so exciting, April. How exciting for the kids too, to be in on the action of the Movie Maker Mission. Thank you for sharing at Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in this week’s issue.

    • Thank you so much, Mel, and thank you for featuring my post. I look forward to visiting on Wednesday 🙂 I am excited to see the final version of the movie that they make at Hampton Court!

  3. I remember my first visit to Hampton Court Palace as a grad student studying at Goldsmiths. Stepping onto the stones you could just feel the history. It was my first real palace sighting and the moment I realized how amazing it is that Brits are surrounded with all this history while we Americans have Disney World. Wish I was there to celebrate!

    • It must have been wonderful to study at Goldsmiths, Sarah! What a fantastic experience. Hampton Court Palace is such a great palace to see as your first palace. It’s got such a lovely feel to it.

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