A Grade I listed royal palace in London, Hampton Court Palace is located in Richmond upon River Thames. It was originally a Tudor palace built by Cardinal Worsley, but once it captured King Henry VIII's attention, he moved into the palace and stayed there with his six wives. Later, King William III expanded the palace with magnificent Baroque architecture, featuring Stuart and Georgian styles. Explore royal rooms, art galleries, halls, and gardens that take your breath away at the Hampton Court Palace.
One of the top attractions inside Hampton Court Palace is the Great Hall located in the center of Tudor Palace. The work on Henry VIII’s Great Hall began in 1532 as it replaced a smaller hall built between 1492 - 1514. This hall was used for daily dining and entertainment purposes. On a few important occasions, the Great Hall was also used for masquerades, plays, dances, and more. A few highlights that can’t go unnoticed are the hammer-beam roof, Abraham tapestries, and Anne Boleyn’s coat of arms and initials. Furthermore, the Great Hall was restored in 1840 by Edward Jesse, who then added gorgeous stained glass windows. The colorful glass displays the genealogy of King Henry VIII, his wives, and Thomas Wolsey.
This Hampton Court Palace kitchen was the kitchen in Tudor England. Around 200 cooks, grooms, pages, sergeants, and more worked to prepare more than 800 meals a day in these kitchens. These meals would feed the entire Henry VIII household. Moreover, since there was no modern technology, 1.3 million logs were burned every year to cook these meals. The Tudor kitchens were segregated into different departments, each department headed by a Sergeant and a team of grooms and yeoman. Roasting meat was a task that required greater skill and was managed by three master cooks. A set of complex rules decided which 1200 court members qualified for meals as part of their jobs. You can definitely learn more about the day-to-day lives of Henry’s cooks as you explore the kitchen spaces at Hampton Court Palace.
Another top attraction inside Hampton Court Palace is the Haunted Gallery and the Processional Route. King Henry would come out of his private apartments and walk to the Chapel on Sundays or other special days. This was the only time when Henry VIII was visible to the wider court. Currently, this route is lined with Tudor’s portraits of Henry and his family. Catherine Howard was Henry VIII’s fifth wife and was charged for adultery in 1541. According to the story, she broke free from the room where she was held as a prisoner and ran through the gallery to find Henry in the Chapel so that she could plead her innocence. However, before she could reach the door, the guards grabbed her and took her back to her room. Three months later, she was executed at the Tower of London. Today, many claim that they have seen Catherine’s ghost running through the Haunted Gallery at Hampton Court Palace.
When you visit Hampton Court Palace, the Great Watching Chamber is the first Henry VIII’s State Apartment connected to the Great Hall. The Yeoman of the Guard controlled the access to this chamber and only high-ranking visitors were permitted within. A few visitors were only allowed inside this chamber and were led through a series of doors to more exclusive chambers. This was done to restrict access to the king and to ensure that only the people of certain ranks had access to the appropriate spaces. You can notice Henry VIII’s royal coat of arms and his wife, Jane Seymour’s personal badge on the gilded ceilings. Later, William III included wooden paneling, resulting in a mixture of Stuart and Tudor furnishings. Courtiers used this chamber to eat a meal after dancing in the Great Hall during royal parties.
On your visit, you will find William III’s Apartments inside Hampton Court Palace as well. These apartments have both state and private apartments. You can enter William III’s State Apartments through the grand staircase. There is a painting named ‘Victory of Alexander over the Caesars’ that represents William as the hero Alexander. The 12 Caesars are the Catholic forces that William defeated in the Revolution. The state apartments consist of the Guard Chamber, the Presence Chamber, the Eating Room, the Privy Chamber, and the Great Bedchamber and Little Bedroom. You will also come across William III’s Private Apartment downstairs where he lived, stored his prized items, and entertained his favorite guests.
Another top attraction to visit inside Hampton Court Palace is The Chapel Royal which has been used for over 450 years now. The Chapel’s Tudor ceiling is colorful and rich in history and was installed by Henry VIII in the 1530s. The interiors of the chapel were remodeled in 1710 on Queen Anne’s order. A private pew on the first-floor level was used by Kings and Queens to look at the main body of the chapel. Now, there is a single central room where the monarchs sit to attend the service. In 1540, Archbishop Cranmer gave Henry VIII a letter inside the Chapel that listed the accusations against his wife, Catherine. She was soon executed at the Tower of London. On your visit to the Chapel, you will also notice a replica of Henry VIII’s crown displayed in the Royal Pew. This is where Henry VIII sat in the Chapel Royal while wearing the real crown.
Another amazing attraction inside Hampton Court Palace, the Cumberland Art Gallery. This gallery displays artwork from the Royal Collection and gives you a glimpse into the long history of the Hampton Court Palace. From the 1500s to 1730s, the palace was a royal residence of Kings who were royal collectors of art. Among these, King Charles I and Frederick gathered one of the largest and magnificent art collections in the world. Make sure to visit this grand art gallery at the Hampton Court Palace where you can marvel at hundreds of artworks from the Royal Collection. The Cumberland Art Gallery is located in the suite of rooms built by William August, the Duke of Cumberland, in the 1730s.
If you love art, then one place you can’t miss inside Hampton Court Palace is the Mantegna Gallery. Andrea Mantegna was a Renaissance artist who is famous for ‘The Triumphs of Caesar’. This painting was created for the Gonzala family palace between 1484 and 1506. One of the greatest masterpieces, The Triumphs of Caesar is a set of nine paintings that display the triumphs and glory of the Ancient Romans. The entire art collection of the Gonzala family palace was brought to England in the 1620s by Charles I. Out of all the artworks, The Triumphs were transferred to Hampton Court Palace and have been here for over 400 years. These nine paintings show Julius Caesar’s return after successful military ventures. The procession includes Roman soldiers, musicians, standard-bearers, and spoils of war including gold, weapons, prisoners, exotic animals, and more.
Hampton Court: Behind Closed Doors is a two-part series that gives you a closer look at behind-the-door scenes of Hampton Court Palace. This documentary follows the team that maintains and cares for this palace and shows the unique rooms and gardens built at this palace for King Henry VIII.
The first episode of this documentary shows the team that takes care of the Hampton Court Palace and the gardens here. First, you are shown stunning highlights of the palace, including the Great Hall where Henry VIII danced with his wife, Anne Boleyn. You will also see Henry's love here for Anne in the paneling in the form of intertwined initials.
Watch coachman Ed prepare his rare breed of Shire horses including George, the first Shire foal to be born at Hampton Court in this generation. Follow the story of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour for whom he had built a suite of rooms. While she did give Henry an heir, she died tragically after Edward's christening which left Henry quite sad.
In the second episode, you will see how the famous hedge Maze is maintained by the Deputy Head of Gardens and his team. Visit the chaplain of Hampton Court's Chapel Royal who found an amazing treasure - a prayer book possibly used in the chapel from Elizabeth I's priest.
Next is the story of Henry's unluckiest teenage wife, Catherine Howard. After moving into the palace, it was found that Catherine was having affairs after which she was kept on house arrest. She underwent intense interrogation before she was sent for her execution at the Tower of London.
Explore the haunted part of the palace - the Haunted Gallery, where it is said that one can see the ghost of Catherine running, screaming, and pleading for her life. Finally, you will see the first episode's George, a Shire foal, getting his first hoof trim at the Hampton Court Palace.