What I Did Today - My trip to London - Hampton Court Palace
Updated: Apr 28, 2019
I hope you are all really well. I am a bit late in posting my London adventure of earlier this month (I blame the flu and a busy schedule ;)) but I am really excited either way to show you what I have been up to.
It was early summer when both me and my boyfriend were quite literally swamped with a lot of work and we were both pretty bummed out about it. So we concluded we needed something to look forward to, in order to get through the work load ahead. Thus we booked our little weekend away to London! I was given free liberty in planning the activities and could not resist my inner Tudor enthusiast to book tickets to Hampton Court. It was my fourth visit but still it never fails to amaze me. There is something so magical about Hampton Court, all the history and the significant events of so many people that unvolded within the palace and that ultimately shaped British history.
Hampton Court Palace earned its place in Tudor history in 1515 when the mighty Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the son of a butcher was high in favor at the court of Henry VIII. The cardinal started renovating what was then known as Hampton Court Manor as it had previously been a property of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and spend lavishly to make Hampton Court match his power and prestige. Much of the Tudor parts of the palace originate from the vision of the cardinal. Wolsey fell from favour in 1529, and the cardinal gave the palace to the King who later enlarged it. Along with St James's Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII.
The Tudor kitchens we see here today have been well preserved and imaginatively restored and give a really magnificent sense of how court live would have looked like 500 years ago. You can just imagine the fast amount of hot meals that were prepared here in large scales not once, but twice a day. Everything had to ooze power and magnificence.
Fun fact, if you visit the restroom at Hampton Court Palace you will find these funny Tudor Beauty tips in the cubicals. If you want to know the royal beauty tips of the day ;)
When you visit the Young Henry VIII's exhibition you will be taken back to the young charasmatic king we often tend to forget as he is better known as the fat angry egotistical king we know from his later age. It is so interesting to find out the entire story through such vivid details in art and the facts that have been put on display here. It also gives a vivid account of Henry's military ambitions and accomplishments as well as the fall of Thomas Wolsey and Henry's obsession over Anne Boleyn and a son which led him to the decision to divorce his well connected foreign queen of 24 years, Katherine of Aragon. A divorce that was not granted easily and eventually set the course of a new church of England after Henry broke from Rome and the catholic church.
Something that is absolutely breathtaking is without a doubt the Great Hall. Henry rebuild the Great Hall after Wolsey's fall from grace as it simply was not grand enough. The final result was however very grand. The great Hall is 106 feet long, 40 feet wide and rising to 60 feet in height. One thing that is too important not to mention as one of Britain's most prized possession that are displayed thoughout the hall, the tapestries. They are completely original and they are incredibly beautiful. Tapestries were used to decorate the walls (and to show of wealth) back in the day rather then that they were used for the floor as we are used to now. During the course of time the color has faded significantly but back in the day they would have been incredibly bright, almost neon like and the whole hall would have clashed with a riot of colors.
As you walk near the end of the Tudor parts of the palace and near the end of the Tudor exhibition it is well worth to visit Henry's chapel royal. Photography is not allowed there but it is such a beautiful space and Jane Seymour's heart and lungs are believed to be buried beneath the Church altar. I also recommend talking to the staff about the things you see, they are incredibly helpful and love to dive in deeper into the history of the Tudors. I had such a informative conversation almost debate about Henry VIII's final resting place with the staff in the royal chapel. We all agreed that the kings final resting place which has only been marked by a plaque rather then a tomb. They had some really great insight as to why his tomb had never been finished and also gave some details about the mystery that apparantly Henry's coffin had burst open whilst lying in state. The staff has such a passion for history, it is just wonderful to share that with them. You inevitably also make their day a lot more fun as well.
I won't go into the Stuart and Georgian residents of the palace for fear that this post will get way too long if I do! If you want to learn more about the palace I highly recommend Matthew Sturgis's book on Hampton Court or if you fancy a documentary more there is a great one called Secrets of Henry VIII's pleasure palace.
I really hope you have enjoyed this history filled special as much as I have enjoyed writing it! I did get some souvenirs from my trip which will be shared in this months retail round up soon! A second post on my second and last day in London will be up soon as well!