A royal palace located in the London Borough, Hampton Court Palace was constructed in the first half of the 16th century. It was built and occupied by Thomas Wolsey, the chief minister to King Henry VIII, until 1528. From 1528, King Henry VIII lived here, and it was one of his most favored residences.
Read on to learn more about this incredible royal palace in Greater London.
This 16th-century country home, transformed by Cardinal Wolsey into a palace, was taken over by Henry Ⅷ . Wolsey built a palace that was fit to host monarchs from all over Europe. The palace, with its extensive architecture, stood as a testament to the British splendor.
Henry Ⅷ’s adoration of the Hampton Court Palace grew over the years. The gorgeous palace was often used as a testament to Henry Ⅷ’s power and opulence. By the 1530s, the palace doubled as a hotel, a theatre, and a vast leisure complex, and was often offered as an accommodation to high-profile guests.
The palace also holds some unhappy memories of King Henry. His third wife, Jane Seymore, died here after giving birth to the King’s heir, Edward VI. His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was also arrested and later executed here for treason and adultery. Their ghosts are said to appear here from time to time. King Henry then passed away in 1547 and the palace was occupied by his successors for the next few years.
The palace transformed from an opulence-filled, art-adorned place to prison for the King, Charles I, in 1647. The King was placed on house arrest after his defeat in the Civil War against Oliver Cromwell but managed to escape through the Privy Gardens. However, he was later recaptured and executed, and the palace was occupied by Cromwell for a while.
The palace flourished under William III and Mary II, who took the throne in 1689 and constructed the new Baroque Palace, The Great fountain, and the new Privy Gardens, adding to the expanse of the Palace. The famous maze in the Hampton Court Gardens was also added in the late 17th century.
When George I took over the palace in 1714, he intended to further increase its grandeur. He wanted to host his guests as lavishly as royal entertainment was expected to. In 1718, he refurbished the tennis court to make it a grand assembly room, and the Great Hall was turned into a theatre.
By 1737, George II didn’t want to use the Palace as a royal residence, and therefore it was open to ‘grace and favour’ residents. These were usually the widowed wives who were given accommodations in return for their husband’s service to the monarch. Some older residents still stay in the palace to this day!
In 1838, Queen Victoria opened the palace gates to her subjects, and in 1851 conferred the palace to the British Government. The Hampton Court Gardens became a hotspot for tourists and initially became a site for intoxicated unruly behavior. Despite the rowdy scene, the number of visitors rose every year to catch a glimpse of how the royals lived.
Built in Henry VIII’s time, the Great Hall sits at the heart of the Tudor palace and was designed to impress visitors and proclaim the king’s power and magnificence. Its highlights include the Hammer-beam Roof, Anne Boleyn’s Coat of Arms and Initials, and the stunning Abraham Tapestries on the walls.
The Chapel Royal is famous for its vaulted ceiling that was installed by Henry VIII in 1530 and is a prime example of the Tudor opulence. It was later remodeled in 1710 by Sir Christopher Wren under the orders of Queen Anne. The Royal Pew of the Chapel Royal also features an accurate replica of the crown worn by Henry VIII.
This is the route that Henry VIII would take from his apartments to the Royal Chapel on Sundays or special occasions. Currently, this path is lined with portraits of the Tudor monarchs. You can see the infamous Haunted Gallery located in the State Apartments of the palace here as well.
The Great Watching Chamber was one of the earliest State Apartments that were located beyond the Great Hall. Akin to a control room, the Yeoman of the Guard stood watch here and controlled access to the central part of the palace. Only visitors of high ranks were allowed to enter.
At their peak, Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court Palace were the largest in all of England, with over 200 sergeants, grooms, pages, and cooks working in them. They produced over 800 meals a day for the entire household of the monarchy. The kitchens continued to be used after Henry VIII’s death, feeding the tables of the monarchs for over 200 years.
From the early 1500s to 1730s, Hampton Court Palace was home to many art enthusiasts, each of whom created a collection that can today be viewed at the Cumberland Art Gallery. Discover some magnificent works of art from the royal collection, with works by Van Dyck, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt on display here. Marvel at the artworks that were once only meant for private enjoyment.
The Grand Staircase in the palace leads to William III’s State Apartments. The walls of these living quarters feature large murals of ‘Victory of Alexander over the Caesars’ by Antonio Verrio. The apartments also have a guard chamber that displays a large collection of weapons on the wall. Yeomen of the Guard would be stationed at the doors to make sure courtiers were appropriately dressed.
Another famous gallery of the palace is the Mantegna Gallery. This gallery is home to one of the finest achievements in Renaissance art, the renowned ‘Triumphs of Caesar’ that features 9 huge paintings. The paintings show the Roman ruler Julius Caesar returning from his military campaigns on a chariot.
A. Hampton Court Palace was built in the 16th century. Its construction was started in 1515.
A. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a dear friend of Henry VIII, built the palace.
A. Hampton Court Palace has 1390 rooms.
A. The Hampton Court Gardens are the magnum opus of the Palace and are a must-visit. The Maze is also very famous and worth visiting here.
A. Yes, there are a few grace and favour residents that still live in the palace.
A. The Hampton Court Palace is famous for its architecture and the historic art it harbors.
A. Yes, today the Palace is in possession of Queen Elizabeth II and the Crown.
A. The Hampton Court Palace is an expansive area with over 60 acres of gardens. It would take at least half a day to fully experience the Palace.
A. No, there are merely rumors of the ghost of Lady Cathrine roaming around in the corridors. However, there is no real evidence that it is anything more than an old maid’s tale.
A. Yes, there are several movies shot in the Palace, including Young Victoria, Theory of Everything, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
A. You can book your online tickets to Hampton Court Palace here.