If you’ve seen the Tudors, you know Hampton Court Palace. If you haven’t seen the tv series, you may still know Hampton Court as one of the many palaces owned by King Henry VIII. Or as the English version of Versailles. Anyhow, for me it was Tudor Palace. The setting for many of Henry’s extravagant parties and sexual escapades. It turns out it’s even better in real life.
I’d been wanting to visit the palace for some time already when my brother and his girlfriend came to see me in London. My brother’s girlfriend mentioned she’d like to go to Hampton Court and that was that. We took the train from Waterloo station – there’s a direct service going all the way to the palace every half an hour – and once we got there it was only a short walk away.
Now there is – a lot – to see. Between the Royal Chapel, several exhibitions, the kitchens and of course the gardens with their famous maze, you easily spend three hours on the premises. More if you want to take your time, enjoy a coffee break at some point or sit on one of the benches in the royal gardens soaking up the Hampton beauty.
We started off with Henry’s apartments and the Royal Chapel, one of my favourite parts of the palace. It breathes this solemn, churchy atmosphere and I found standing there, looking down on the chapel a very relaxing experience. Unfortunately it’s one of the few areas where pictures aren’t allowed so I can’t show you any images, but somehow that feels right when it comes to a chapel I think.
After this religious intermezzo we went to another favourite of mine, or actually of all three of us: the kitchens. They are big. Apparently they are still being used a couple of times a year which I thought was pretty cool. In one of the rooms a big fire was burning, giving you an idea of how things used to be in the kitchen quarters (very hot, if you ask me).
The last part of our Hampton tour were the gardens. There are several ones (obviously) and they are stunning. I particularly liked the beautifully shaped trees and a couple of cute mini statues.
I usually don’t think much about palaces to be honest. Most of the time I find they all look the same and I end up slightly disappointed. Hampton Court is different. It’s more of an experience than a simple visit, I really felt like I was there. Maybe it’s because there are so many things to see or maybe it’s because of it’s history, I don’t know. I do know that I’ll definitely go back there to stroll around the palace’s alleyways, soak up the smell of the Royal Chapel and sit in the rose garden; just like a Tudor.
For more information about Hampton Court Palace, go here.
If you don’t know the Tudors, here’s its original (and slightly dated) trailer: