Hampton Court Palace. First Visit

I got the train from home, changed at Wimbledon and arrived at Hampton Court two hours later.  As you leave the station and cross over the Thames you get a lovely view looking back towards London.  I was heading to Hampton Court Palace.  I had recently become a member of Historic Royal Palaces.

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The membership includes free admission to six palaces as many times as you like,  10% discount on cafe and gift shop purchases, exclusive member events calendar and yearly magazine.  It’s great because you don’t have to queue for a ticket.  Just walk straight to the entrance,  your card is scanned and off you go.  Also included in the price is an audio guide that is really simple to use, has clear easy to follow instructions as you walk through the palace and you can switch off and pick up where you left off at any time.

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Re-Built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1515 converting it from a manor to a grand palace.  As quoted on the Hampton Court website…..

Wolsey leased Hampton Court in 1514 and began building work a year later. He carried on making improvements throughout the 1520s. Descriptions record rich tapestry-lined apartments, and how you had to traverse eight rooms before finding his audience chamber. –

For many people today, Hampton Court Palace is Henry VIII. It is indeed Henry’s royal standard that flies over the gatehouse. But it wasn’t always so…

Early on in Henry VIII’s reign, Thomas Wolsey, one of the chaplain’s in Henry’s court, first acquired a relatively small manor house here in 1514, and constructed a magnificent palace around it.

Henry was married to Katherine of Aragon for almost 24 years. They shared a similar education and a love for court entertainment and learning. But, somewhere between the private tragedy of miscarriages and stillbirths and the public political and dynastic ambitions of Henry VIII, their marriage failed.

When Henry VIII wanted a divorce from Katherine, Cardinal Wolsey, in his unique position as papal legate and chief minister, was in a fantastic position to pull it off. Or fail … Katherine resisted, and the Pope refused. Wolsey was helpless. His titles and properties were confiscated and the Cardinal died in 1530, after his arrest for treason. When Wolsey fell from power and influence Henry acquired Hampton Court, and began his own ostentatious building programme.

Hampton Court now truly became Henry VIII’s favourite palace. He spent more time here than at any other of his residences during the second half of his reign, building new apartments for himself and his new wives. And the palace survived to witness many of the most important events in the chequered political and matrimonial history of the 1530s and 1540s. –

 

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The wine fountain in Base Court

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Inspired by the discovery of the remains of a 16th century conduit (or fountain) during a major archaeological dig at Hampton Court Palace in 2008, the new fountain’s design is based on detailed historic research into wine fountains that were commonly used during festivals and celebrations by Henry VIII (reigned 1509 – 1547). –

The wine fountain is inspired by a number of historic sources including the Field of the Cloth of Gold painting and The Triumph of Bacchus tapestry (which shows wine-making and drinking around a large wine fountain) – both of which are displayed at Hampton Court Palace – and examples of Tudor decoration at the palace. Surviving contemporary accounts also show that it was common for wine to be run through the public fountains (known as conduits) as part of lavish festivals and celebrations, such as when the king or queen were formally welcomed into the City of London. When Anne Boleyn entered and processed through London for her coronation in 1533, many of the public conduits were turned into wine fountains as part of elaborate pageants. –

 

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The Field of the Cloth of Gold

This 1540’s painting depicts the meeting of King Henry VIII with Francis I of France at Guines near Calais in 1520.  Henry VIII, keen to out shine Francis I, built an elaborate pop up, or fake, palace including two wine fountains showing Bacchus the god of wine.  Now that’s my kind of god 🙂   The motto in blue and gold  ‘faicte bonne chere quy vouldra’   means ‘let he who wishes make good cheer’

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Children born of Katherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII

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Paneling in Wolsey’s apartments

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Graffiti over the fireplace

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Katherine of Aragon

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King Henry VIII

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Anne Boleyn

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The Great Hall was just magnificent and took my breathe away when I walked in.  Huge tapestries depicting the Story of Abraham line the walls once owned by King Henry VIII and in amazing condition.  The workmanship was inspiring and so intricate.  Beautiful stained glass windows.  It is also on of England’s oldest theatres.

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William Shakespeare’s company, know as The Kings Men, performed for King James I in 1603-4 and while I was there I was lucky enough to ‘see’ Shakespeare’s  rehearsing  in front of King James I.  This is wonderful interactive entertainment that is on at the Palace most days and goes for approx 45mins.

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It was then time of lunch.  I chose the Fountain Court Cafe that serves light dishes and a nice cool glass of wine…  Remembering the quote on the wine fountain….

‘let he who wishes make good cheer’

oh….ok then 🙂

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Stay Posted for day two…..  Love L

 

 

 

 

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