There’s been something exciting happening at Hampton Court Palace nearly every day for over 500 years now. Built by Cardinal Wolsey when he was in King Henry VIII’s favour it became the home of the King when the Cardinal fell from grace. Now lovingly looked after by Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court is a treasure-trove of beautiful objects, history and intrigue and is a wonderful place to spend a day. In fact, it is one of my favourite London palaces.
Inside the Palace, history comes alive with rooms seemingly held still in time – the throne room awaits the arrival of the King, a table is set for an intimate dinner and the Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber are revealed. The knowledgable staff at Hampton Court are often in costume and this makes visits especially interesting.
On one memorable occasion I even met King Henry VIII himself! Engaging and particularly good with children, most guides are skilled at balancing the more serious parts of the palace’s history with a good dose of fun. History really does come alive at Hampton Court.
Of course there are plenty of ghosts reputed to roam the halls of Hampton Court. The late Sybil Penn, Arabella Stewart and poor doomed Catherine Howard are all said to have been sighted. There’s even actual CCTV footage of one particularly ghostly gentleman. Although I’ve visited many times, I’ve never seen or felt anything odd, but if you think you many have better luck than I, there are Ghost Tours on offer on selected evenings. These are open to visitors over the age of 15 and start from 31 October this year. Do book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The kitchens are a fun – and educational – place to visit with your kids. Tudor kitchens are such a contrast to modern life and in my experience, children’s reactions can be priceless.
It’s hard to imagine, but the palace servants made meals for up to 600 people twice a day here during the Tudor era.
Nestled on the banks of the Thames, Hampton Court Palace is set in wonderful gardens.
You can enjoy the view of the gardens from the palace itself and on fine days you can wander through them. I love the idea of walking in the footsteps of so many colourful characters from history – the young Princess who would become Queen Elizabeth I and her doomed mother Anne Boleyn to name but two. The gardens here are always evolving and there is currently a Magic Garden aimed specifically at children under construction at Hampton Court due to open in the Spring of 2015.
From history buffs to garden enthusiasts, ghost hunters to fans of the television series the Tudors, individuals, couples or families with children, there’s something for everyone at Hampton Court Palace. Open every day except 24, 25 and 26 December (opening hours vary), Hampton Court Palace is located on the River Thames to the southwest of London and is accessible by boat, car, train, bus or underground. Visit the Hampton Court Palace website to learn more. It’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues.
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