Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hampton Court

With only a few days to go now until the Jubilee celebrations begin, it seems fitting to look at one of the most beautiful royal palaces in London - Hampton Court.  I've visited Hampton Court many times now, it's always top of the list for guests and I never tire of it.  I've seen it in brilliant sunshine, in the depths of winter, lit up as people skate in the grounds, in the pouring rain, but my favourite memory involves a boat trip down the Thames at dusk; as we approached the palace, those infamous chimneys came into view, sillouetted against the darkening sky.  Truly magical and evocative.
Home to many Kings and Queens - including Queen Caroline, Henry VIII and some of his wives, notably Anne Boleyn, Hampton Court has a prominent place in English history.

Kitchen Utensils in the Palace kitchens

This is what I call a fireplace!

Beautiful embossed ceilings and intricate plasterwork cover the palace

The Great Hall - one of the few remaining rooms from Henry VIII time

When he died in 1547 Henry VIII had more than 60 houses, but – in the second half of his reign – none were more important to him, nor more sumptuously decorated, than Hampton Court Palace.

Henry VIII is probably Hampton Court's most famous inhabitant and he loved the palace, lavashing time and money on it. By the time Henry finished his building works at Hampton Court Palace in about 1540, the palace was one of the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent in England.
There were tennis courts, bowling alleys and pleasure gardens for recreation, a hunting park of more than 1,100 acres, kitchens covering 36,000 square feet, a fine chapel, a vast communal dining room (the Great Hall) and a multiple garderobe (or lavatory) - known as the Great House of Easement - which could sit 28 people at a time. Water flowed to the palace from Coombe Hill in Kingston, three miles away, through lead pipes.

All of Henry’s six wives came to the palace and most had new and lavish lodgings. The King rebuilt his own rooms at least half a dozen times.

The palace also provided accommodation for each of the King's children and for a large number of courtiers, visitors and servants.

Even the staircases are ornate

Hampton Court is of course famous for it's ghosts; rumoured to haunt it's corridors and cloisters are Queen Caroline and Anne Boleyn.  A few years ago a CCTV camera caught this ghostly image on it's screen, and the palace have not been able to explain it away rationally...
What do you think?

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