Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court palace is a world-famous historical site and an ever-popular tourist attraction in London. Built over 480 years ago, Hampton Court palace was home to one of England’s most infamous monarchs: Henry VIII.

Now the stunning palace grounds serve as a kind of living museum, showing off the grandeur royal life throughout the centuries and giving an amazing insight into the rules who passed through its gates.

Hampton Court palace is located in south west London, in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. It’s just a few minutes from the train station and a small town with a number of café’s and restaurants, but’s it’s also accessible by boat, if you’re feeling adventurous!

All the staff onsite are incredibly friendly and helpful, and are always keen to answer any questions or explain where something is. There are also a number of costumed performers, who give enthusiastic historical talks throughout the day in era-appropriate outfits, which really helps bring the history of Hampton Court palace to life.

Once inside, Hampton Court palace is divided up into several distinct sections, which cover a different aspect of palace life or a specific area of history. It’s almost impossible not to start imagining what Hampton Court palace would have been like during the reign of Henry VIII or the other monarchs who lived at the palace. Several of the rooms are laid out as they would have been all those hundreds of years ago, and even feature the original furniture, which is truly fascinating.

The story of young Henry VIII is laid out in its own wing of Hampton Court palace. Displayed in an interesting, engaging way which really draws you in to the history of both the palace and the infamous king, it takes you through a number of stunning rooms. The story gives a lot of interesting insights into the methods and motives of Henry VIII during his rise to power.

The apartments of William III are also truly impressive, with one huge room being decorated floor to ceiling with hundreds thousands of historic weapons, from spears through to powder pistols, all laid out in intricate geometric designs. The apartments also give you a great view out into the gardens.

The Chocolate kitchens are a fascinating part of the buildings at Hampton Court palace, where you can learn all about the royal obsession with drinking chocolate. When it was first discovered by Europeans, chocolate was an exclusive luxury only enjoyed by a few. At Hampton Court Palace, you can see the rooms and equipment used to prepare the drink, which features a step by step re-enactment of the complex process of getting it ready to serve to royalty.

The other buildings at Hampton Court palace also feature the Chapel Royal, which is a truly impressive chapel still in use to this day. Everything within the chapel is stunning, not least the impressive ceiling. Services are held daily in English and Latin, as well as an Evensong service.

There’s artwork on display throughout Hampton Court palace which is worthy of a visit in it’s own right. Many of the most impressive works are displayed as part of the Cumberland Art Gallery, but in almost every room you’ll find some truly inspiring artwork by famous artists such as Rubens, Lely and Moreelse.

Similarly, the gardens are stunning, especially in the summer months, but even off-season they’re well maintained and undeniably impressive. There are several different areas to the gardens, including the Rose Garden and the famous Hampton Court maze, all of which are well worth taking a stroll through.

A trip to Hampton Court palace can be a great way to spend a couple of hours, or a full day, depending on your schedule. Families are well catered for, with lunch rooms, buggy parks, interactive displays, a several shops & cafés, benches throughout the palace grounds and a number of great activities designed to give kids an enjoyable, educational day out.

Fast Track Entry to Hampton Court Palace with The London Pass

Look out for…

  • All of the ‘eavesdroppers’ hiding in the great hall – can you spot them all?
  • The Magic Garden, which blends history and fantasy into a great outdoor space for children (and adults)
  • Ten Kings Beasts that stand guard of the entrance to Hampton Court Palace
  • The Chocolate Kitchens
  • Henry VIII’s wine cellars

Did you know?…

  • Hampton Court Palace is believed to be haunted by a screaming lady thought to be Catherine Howard, and the grey ghost Dame Sybil Penn is believed to roam the Clock Courts
  • The truth behind Charles I’s mystery disappearance in the summer of 1647 is still disputed when he fled the posh prison of Hampton Court and left on a boat to the Isle of Wight
  • Hampton Court Gardens displays over 200,000 flowering bulbs on display throughout spring
  • The Great Hall, England’s last and greatest Medieval hall, saw the performance of Shakespeare’s company the ‘King’s Men’ in 1603
  • Three of the walls that surround the tennis court date back to the 17th century, one of them being Cardinal Wolseley’s original
  • Legend says that Jane Seymour’s heart is buried somewhere in the Chapel Royal
  • You can play cards and other games in one of the Royal Drawing Rooms
  • Drinking Chocolate used to be served with a number of specially mixed spices, and was incredibly expensive
  • It takes an average of 20 minutes to navigate through the maze in the gardens
  • There were 344 rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and pearls on Henry VIII’s crown!

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All information is drawn from or provided by the museums themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.