Hampton Court Palace

London, England, United Kingdom

Hampton Court Palace is best known as the favourite royal palace of Henry VIII. The palace was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favourite of Henry’s, but when he fell from favour Henry took it over and enlarged it to meet his grandiose needs in 1529. Today it is one of only two surviving palaces (along with St. James Palace) that were owned and lived in by Henry VIII.

In the 17th century William III began and ambitious expansion project, which was aimed to rival Versailles, but it was halted in 1694 and the palace was left with a mixture of Baroque and Tudor styles.

Henry VIII is one of English royalty’s most infamous figures and it was at Hampton Court that many of his most outrageous acts occurred. Catherine Howard was dragged screaming from the gallery leading to the chapel after King Herny was informed of her adultery and today her ghost is said to haunt it. This was also the site where Henry’s much awaited male heir Edward VI was born. It was also at Hampton Court that Henry died in 1547.

Despite its long and fascinating royal history, no royal has resided at Hampton Court since George II in the 18th century. There is probably no finer place in England to learn about Tudor history and what it was like to live during this dramatic time in English history. A real highlight of a visit to the palace is Henry’s Great Hall, which is a grand medieval hall and one of the country’s oldest theatres.

The palace is located on the River Thames to the south west of London. There is a train service that runs from Waterloo to Hampton Court, but the best (not fastest) way to arrive is by boat – there is a boat service that runs in summer from Westminster to the palace.

 

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