Hampton Court Palace and Gardens
Hampton Court, located in the scenic London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, is best known for its imposing Royal Palace and the immaculately maintained gardens that surround it.
The palace is steeped in enough history and ghostly mystery to make it appealing to children as well as adults and regular musical, theatrical and horticultural events are held in the spectacular gardens.
The palace was the residence of Henry VIII and the corridors of this vast building are said to be haunted by the shrieking ghost of his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Children are thrilled by tales of the late queen’s ghostly presence and it is said that she haunts the building in a rage at her execution at the king’s request.
Ghostly goings-on aside, the palace is a wonderful attraction for anybody with even a passing interest in history or architecture and the wonderfully ornate fixtures and fittings are testament to the luxurious lifestyle that was enjoyed here by ‘Bluff King Hal’, as he was known. In 2010, archaeologists even found the remains of a ‘wine fountain’ in the palace grounds, which were the setting for many a feast, play, tournament and ball.
Tours of the sprawling red-brick Hampton palace, which is said to have been the blood-thirsty monarch’s favourite residence, take in a visit to the Tudor kitchens, where children can marvel at bubbling cauldrons, archaic cooking implements and the spoils of historical hunts in the palace grounds.
The palace is considered to be one of the finest in the world and is the oldest in the United Kingdom, steeped in no less than 800 years of history. Elizabeth I was another famous owner of the palatial home, which consists of several residential buildings along with chapels, dining halls and the expansive kitchens that were used to cater for royal gatherings of over 1,000 people. Other highlights include the chance to see a recreation of Henry’s crown and to admire the fashions of the Tudor period.
For art lovers, a highlight of any trip to Hampton Court is the chance to admire the spectacular set of paintings that make up The Triumphs of Caesar. This group of paintings is one of the most renowned in the world. The paintings, created in Italy by Andrea Mantega, arrived in England in 1630 when King Charles bought them for his private collection. Widely considered the most important of all Italian Renaissance works of art, the masterpieces have been on view at Hampton Court Palace for centuries and have been admired by millions of visitors.
Hampton Court Gardens
The palace grounds are a pleasure to visit, especially during the late spring and early summer when it is awash with colourful floral displays. Children love the maze at the centre of the gardens. The term ‘gardens’ in fact does little justice to their sheer scale. The grounds are split into several distinct parks and gardens, of which Home Park, with its 700 acres of deer park filled with water features and alive with colourful flora and fauna, is easily the largest and is one of the most pleasant places in London for a romantic walk or a family picnic.
Few visitors to the park can resist the urge to try the famous maze, which consists of around half a mile of twisting, turning paths flanked by towering ewe-tree walls. It’s easier than you might think to get lost here, so visitors should set aside a good half an hour to reach the centre. Construction of the maze began in 1690, at the behest of William III and it has grown in size and scale ever since. Other highlights include the Privy Garden, with its many marble sculptures and the more contemporary 20th Century Garden.
Check out www.theatrebreaks.co.uk for tour packages to the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2014 or head straight to www.theatrebreaks.co.uk/hampton-court-flower-show-packages. Hampton Court Palace tour packages can be booked at www.royalbreaks.co.uk/hampton-court-palace/Share this post...
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