Visit Hampton Court Palace by Mouse
Hampton Court Palace is 15 miles southwest of London. upstream on the north bank of the Thames. and can be reached by tube, bus, boat, car, or train. If you want to see how the Royals lived throughout British history from the mid-16th century and Henry VIII onwards, and if you want to get a glimpse of what the royal court was all about, you should come here and see for yourself.
Originally a 14th century manor house, it was rebuilt by Thomas Wolsey starting in 1514. At that time, he was Archbishop of York. Afterwards he became Cardinal and chief minister to King Henry VIII. But in 1525, when Wolsey fell into disfavor with his lord and master because he could not convince the Pope to grant the King a divorce from Katherine of Aragon, he "gave" it to the King to show him how much he loved him. (It did not do Wolsey much good. Not too long afterwards, the King took all his vast other properties.) Henry then began to add to the palace and rebuild sections to his own taste. The work was financed by spoils from the English Protestant Reformation which he instigated in retaliation for the Pope's unwillingness to grant him a divorce. The process of adding on and rebuilding was continued by many subsequent monarchs. The result is a huge complex spread over 60 acres that includes many buildings, rooms and large gardens. Queen Victoria opened it to the public and it still is a very popular tourist venue today. Its latest major restoration was completed in 1995 after a fire in the King's apartments in 1989.
This Palace played a role in much of the history of England subsequent to Henry VIII's reign, All six of his wives lived here and all three of his surviving children, Edward, Mary (a.k.a., Bloody Mary) and Elizabeth lived and held court in the palace from time to time, and used it as a place to entertain important foreign dignitaries as well as to house and feed courtiers. The same was true, more or less, of Elizabeth's successors, the Stuarts, Oliver Cromwell, William and Mary, and the Hanoverians. Under the latter, the palace was divided into apartments for the King's favorites. But its grandeur and scale can still be seen, wondered at, and, depending on how you feel about such indulgence, enjoyed.
Touring the palace takes some time, depending on the pace you set. But allowing most of a day would be wise. There is a lot to see: Henry VIII's Great Hall, with a beautiful hammer-beam ceiling; his huge Tudor kitchen; the narrow alleyway called Fish court through which servants brought food from the kitchen to the Great Hall; the Clock Court (so-called because of its very large astronomical clock in which the sun orbits the earth); Wolsey's rooms; the most beautiful Chapel Royal (You are forbidden to photograph this and we have yet to find a photo of it on the internet, mores the pity); the state apartments; William III's private apartments and a Renaissance Picture Gallery where you can view a large array of painting masterpieces. Indeed, many of the other rooms also have wonderful details and touches to admire. All this is inside the palace. Outside there are vast formal gardens and a challenging maze, among other botanical wonders. (See photos  Slideshow)
You can see some of what we found interesting in our letter written after our visit, and admire a lot of the palace through our photos, slideshowand its  web site.
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