Hampton Court

Address: Hampton Court Palace, Surrey. 

Opening hours: Monday to Sundays, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Contact: 24-hour information line about the palace and gardens: 0844 482 7777 (from the UK). +44 (0)20 3166 6000 (from outside the UK)

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Hampton Court is more than just a gallery of paintings. It is a royal palace situated in Richmond, which is a London borough in Greater London. Though a palace, the British royal family has inhabited the Hampton since the 18th century. It was originally made for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey around 1514. He was a King Henry VIII favourite and the king was known to give favours to those he liked or even to snatch castles from those he felt was not loyal to him. The king was pretty consistent when it came to this that when he was no longer pleased with Wolsey, he then took hold of the palace. King Henry VIII went on to make the palace larger. Curiously, the palace is the only one of two palaces owned by Henry VIII to have survived.

King Henry VIII’s expansion efforts were not the last the Hampton Court Palace will go through, however. William III would then perform an extensive expansion and rebuilding on the palace. Work on the Hampton stopped by 1694. the palace was then left as an interesting juxtaposition of Baroque and Tudor architectural styles. This styling was unplanned but still resulted to a strange sense of unit in the use of symmetry and pink bricks.

The palace is now a popular tourist attraction. Hampton Court is even open for public viewing. An independently registered charity, with no government or crown funding, Historic Royal Palaces is managing the palace.

Hampton Court is considered a museum, as well, because it is home to art pieces from the Royal Collection. The furnishings, as well as the art, go back to the two main periods of construction. There are also ceramic and porcelain collections, which were owned by Queen Mary II. They were Chinese imports. The furniture, going back to the late 17th as well as the early 18th centuries, is also on display. A crystal chandelier from about the year 1700 is featured in the King’s Privy Chamber. It might be one of the, if not the very, first chandeliers in the country. The King’s Guard Chamber has its own collection on display: armour, daggers, muskets, pistols, powder horns and swords.

The Hampton Court Palace is rich in history. There are even reports of ghostly haunting of Henry VIII and his family in various instances. Today though, the palace continues to make history. It has become the location for a few films, such as A Man for All Seasons (1966) and the HBO mini-series John Adams (2008). The grounds will also be a 2012 Olympic Games venue.

There is an admission fee: £16.95 (adults), £8.50 (children below 16), £14.30 (concessions) and £43.46 (families). Children below five years old can come in for free.