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I had wanted to visit Hampton Court Palace back in 2006, then in 2013, but it just never worked out. Till this year! The 500th anniversary of Hampton Court Palace! I knew I had to make it this time since is was the big birthday year.
Getting to Hampton Court
Having gotten a discounted ticket to Hampton Court Palace from YHA London Oxford, I was on my way! Just a quick ride from London Waterloo to Hampton on the train and I was there. The station is just across the road from the Palace so it’s completely walkable.
Visit Hampton Court Palace
Walking up to Hampton Court Palace was simply magical, there really are no other words for it. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve waited so long to see it, or the fact that I’m a semi-closeted history nerd, but either way it was just breathtaking. So much so, that I actually stood in the middle of the road staring at it till a truck honked at me to move over. Opps! I arrived around 10:30am I believe and was handed my guide of the palace and garden, as well as a schedule of events. Because it’s the 500th anniversary they’ve really outdone themselves. Make sure to check their schedule for what’s happening on the day you plan to visit.
At about 11am on the schedule was a Tudor Welcome time play or Tudor reenactment which started below the great clock. Some fantastic actors came out in period clothing and performed as if they actually were from King Henry VIII’s time. I was giddy, I love this sort of thing! Their Anne Boleyn was my favorite of the group. And thankfully, my stored knowledge of Anne’s life from history class and the Tudors tv series kicked in.
The Great Hall
We followed them into the Great Hall where one of the ladies asked me ‘if I’d heard the rumors’ (though she might have used the word whispers, I can’t recall now). Of course I played along, though only guessing it was about Henry and Anne. We proceeded into the wine cellar where we were told to keep quite so we would not be heard by Anne and her ‘boyfriend’ (for lack of a better word) Henry Percy. Henry Percy is primarily remembered as the betrothed of Anne Boleyn, whom he was forced to give up before she became involved with King Henry VIII. As the scene unravelled I came to realize it was the breakup scene. Sad, but marvelously performed. The actors they hired at Hampton Court Palace are top notch!
There are actually very few remnants of Anne Boleyn’s reign in Hampton Court Palace. I took photos of two such examples you can see below. The H and A entwinded. The first image is over a passageway, the second is inside the Great Hall. All others to my knowledge were erased when she was dethroned.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s Apartment
I wandered around some of the galleries after watching the time plays. There’s some really fascinating art at Hampton Court, like this piece below. I really liked how they painted the water. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that before. Then, I found myself in Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s apartments. Originally Hampton Court was Cardinal Wolsey’s palace back in the early 16th century. There’s some graffiti in his fireplace that says ‘Who tries it, knows it.’ Not quite sure what to make of that. It gave me something to think about while I made my way through the rest of the gallery.