Hampton Court Palace- the fifth and final property covered by my Historic Royal Palaces membership card! I had really been looking forward to my trip out there, especially since I had my buddy Helen with me for company. I DEFINITELY don’t mind flying solo when it comes to sightseeing, but it’s nice to have company every once in awhile! 🙂
The palace is about half an hour away from central London by train. It’s a very cheap ride, especially if you have an Oyster card, and well worth the trip. It’s also well worth the trip if you’re at all into England’s Tudor Kings and Queens, particularly Henry VIII and his six wives. Hampton Court is a BIG palace….the view in the picture above doesn’t really show that, but the official website has an aerial view that does: http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/planyourvisit/default.aspx. It was home to Cardinal Wolsey before Henry VIII decided he needed it more. All six of his wives lived here, and Jane Seymour even died here after giving birth. Supposedly, the ghost of Catherine Howard (wife number 5) can still be seen/heard running through parts of the palace, screaming. I can’t confirm this from personal experience, unfortunately. 😛 All three of Henry’s surviving children (Mary I, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I) also spent time here; Edward was christened in the AMAZING chapel located inside the palace (as with many of the old churches over here…no photography inside). There are other monarchs who’ve had some association with the palace (William III and Mary II, both Charles I and II), but they almost felt like an afterthought. This is a Tudor Palace through and through!
The palace grounds are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere. There’s a maze which I had heard was tough, but both Helen and I got through with no trouble. The gardens are also pretty amazing; see for you yourself:
There were costumed actors present while we were there, and the guy playing Henry VIII looked and acted so much like him that it was actually creepy. I’m not kidding; I accidentally made eye contact with him and had to look away:
It took hours to get through everything at the palace, but it was well worth it. I had only planned to see this one once, but I’m definitely considering going back at least once more. It might be nice to see it when it isn’t pouring rain and thundering. 😛 Another place I’d like to visit again? Pizza Express, where Helen and I had dinner. That’s a restaurant chain over here, and very good one. The food is not only GREAT, but reasonably priced! I can’t complain about the ice cream I had for dessert, either. 🙂
That’s all for now, folks…it’s after midnight here and I should probably wind down for the evening. Now that I’ve visited all 5 HRP properties, I think a blog post ranking them just might be in order. Look for that soon!