I’ve been fortunate enough to see many palaces on my trips through Europe, but I was really stunned by my recent trip to Hampton Court Palace.
This palace doesn’t receive quite as much attention as others, like Versailles, or Buckingham, or even Windsor, but it is every bit as breathtaking.
Construction of the palace began in 1515 by the infamous King Henry VIII for his Cardinal, Thomas Wolsey. When Wolsey fell out of favour though, Henry seized the castle for himself and began expanding it.
Later, King William III also began a large expansion project on the palace, in a quest to rival Versaille’s splendour. That expansion destroyed much, but not all of the Tudor style that had been in place from King Henry VIII’s construction. Since William III’s construction never finished, the castle is in two different styles; Tudor and Baroque, though there is still quite a bit of unity because of the unique red brick that was used!
I arrived at the 10:00am opening so that I could get as many shots as possible without people, and I was rewarded with some amazing views!
I decided to start with Henry VIII’s apartments because it was originally his palace, and I wanted to go along chronologically.
Amazing tapestries hung in almost every room, and the rooms themselves were quite immense! The tapestries are still rich in colour, and they’re quite striking with the morning sunlight pouring in on them!
To give an idea of scale, these statues are at least 6 feet tall!
The exhibits in Henry VIII’s apartments were tastefully decorated, and they had a neat feature where a hidden projector would cast shadows of figures of the time, and voices would chatter to give an idea of what the court would be like at the time – you can check out my Instagram for a video of it!
I then moved on to William III’s apartments. Though they were definitely different, and in a Baroque style, the change wasn’t as drastic as I had expected.
That wall in front was to prevent courtiers from getting too close as they watched William perform the levee (watching him ceremonially awake and arise, in the style of Louis the Sun King.)
This room was really something to behold. Above the wood panelling, every spare inch of space was covered in weaponry, from knives and spears to muskets and guns. It was a truly spectacular collection, and all presented in very beautiful geometric patterns.
This was at the entrance to the chapel, which we weren’t allowed to take photos in, because it is still used today as a place of worship. But here is a photo used in The Telegraph.
I wandered around the palace a bit more, until I found the gardens, which just might be my favourite part of the entire palace. I’ll post more about the Hampton Court Palace gardens early next week!