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Having lived in the UK for 18 months as a working holiday maker, with the emphasis being on holiday maker, I have seen and done a lot of the touristy things in London. And one of my favourite days there was the day I took my family to Hampton Court Palace.
Hampton Court Palace was constructed in 1514 by King Henry VIII for his then favourite, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, though the sovereign later reclaimed possession of the palace when Wolsey fell from grace in 1529. A century later, King William III began to expand the palace, intending for it to rival the one at Versailles. This project continued until 1694 and resulted in contrasting Tudor and Baroque styles co-existing in the one palace, as seen in the photo below.
This Tudor style central courtyard with the external brick and stone masonry topped with narrow but elaborate chimney pots and balustrades, contrasts with the internal Baroque style colonnade, yet the 2 styles are brought together by the use of similar coloured bricks.
The palace is open for public visits today, and even hosts an annual Hampton Court Palace Festival in June each year, during which musical concerts are held, showcasing a diverse range of artists from Andrea Bocelli to Sir Elton John. In addition, the largest flower show in the world, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, is held each year in early July. I wasn’t lucky enough to visit the palace during either of those special times, but still found plenty to see and do there. In fact, I highly recommend that you spend at least half a day there should you be visiting this palace.
There are audio guides available for loan and these are included in the price of your admission ticket. However, why listen to a body-less voice when you can be escorted around the palace by a lady-in-waiting and/or a royal courtier? These costumed tours take you through the main sights, for instance the royal apartments, while providing you with interesting stories and insights from the time. They run daily from 11.30am-12.30pm and 2.30-3.30pm and are a ton of fun!
You can also visit the Chapel Royal, the kitchens and see a re-creation of Henry VIII’s crown. When you’re done with all that, step outside and visit the famous Hampton Court Maze as well as the magnificent gardens.
There are many more activities on offer at Hampton Court Palace, including night time illuminations, Christmas events and ghost tours. You can find out more about all these at the palace website.
Hampton Court Palace is in Surrey, approximately 21km southwest of the centre of London. It is in zone 6 of the transport system, and super easy to get there by tube (London Underground). From Waterloo station, it is only about a half hour journey to Hampton Court. Once you’re there, it’s only a simple matter of walking across the River Thames to the palace. You won’t miss it, and you’ll probably see a few swans in the river, too.
Daily except 24-26 December
Palace, maze and formal gardens open 10am-6pm in summer (end March-end October) with the palace and maze open 10am-4.30pm in winter (end October-end March) while the formal gardens are open 10am-5.30pm in winter
Palace, maze and gardens ticket £18.20 at the gate and £17.05 online
Children under 16 pay £9.10 or £8.52 online
Full time students and over 60s get a concession rate on presentation of ID, £15.40 or £14.30 online
Family tickets admitting up to 2 adults and 3 children are £46.80 or £43.45 online
Have you been to Hampton Court Palace for a special event? If so, what was that like? What were your favourite parts to explore?
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