By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
Hampton Court Palace is a place of two halves – one half was built in Tudor times and home to Henry VIII, and the other half is a magnificent Baroque masterpiece, which owes its beauty to none other than Sir Christopher Wren.
Built in the seventeenth century, the maze at Hampton Court Palace is one of the first hedge mazes to be built in England. It’s big enough to get lost in and one of the top attractions for adults and youngsters alike.
Hampton Court is home to The Great Vine, the largest grapevine in the world and just one of the many horticultural attractions at the palace alongside the Wilderness and Privy Garden.
Art is another big attraction – you’ll find works by Holbein the Younger and Van Dyck as well as the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold, which shows Henry VIII apparently wrestling with Francis, King of France.
Events and must-sees
Re-enactment events are often part of the experience when visiting Hampton Court and you may happen upon a vibrant Tudor village or thrilling falconry display. If you’re interested in life downstairs, then be sure to visit the magnificent Tudor kitchen, where the meals for Henry’s 600 plus entourage were prepared; be sure to spot the roasting spit – turned by the spit boy all day long.
The beauty of Hampton Court is incomparable, and every room holds delights for visitors. An absolute must-see is the Chapel Royal. The combination of deep blue ceilings and rich gold Tudor bosses is a feast for the eyes, and if you manage to attend during a choral service, your experience will border on celestial.
How to travel to Hampton Court Palace
Train – Efficient and straightforward, trains leave from London Waterloo every 30 minutes.
Boat – The most beautiful way to visit is by boat, but be warned, depending on tides, the trip can take up to four hours. You can cut this down a little by travelling as far as Richmond or Kingston, and hopping on public transfer for the remaining stretch of your journey.
Bus – Many buses stop just outside the palace – the journey via Richmond is particularly lovely.
Transport information – tfl.co.uk
Experience Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court
Location: Hampton Court Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU
Opening hours: September to April 10-4; April to September 10-6
Cost – £15 adult/£7.00 child/£12.00 concession. Family tickets available