Today my class visited Hampton Court Palace, one of the Tudor palaces made famous by Henry VIII. It was a bit of a journey there, since we had to take a bus to the Waterloo station before heading off to Hampton Court.
Upon arriving at the Waterloo station, we realized that we were around 15 minutes early for our train. I was a bit hungry so I ran back down to the McDonald’s to buy 1 order of large fries – my first McDonald’s in the UK! The fries were deliciously salty, much better than the fries I’ve had in the USA (surprisingly enough).
When we boarded the train I remembered that I had brought a box of Choco Crunchies as snacks, so I shared the box with the girls. I definitely remember bringing a few of them to school for snacks in Montessori!
When we arrived, it was a quick 5-7 minute walk from the tube station to the palace itself. The weather was nice and sunny so we could really see the gardens and palace buildings in full splendor. The palace itself is three stories high – it used to be two stories taller before all the wars and conflicts.
The first area we visited was Base Court, where several statues of revelers were strategically placed around the courtyard. I found the fountain to be a bit gaudy, but the revelers were quite funny (although it did distract me from seeing the Palace as a historical site, rather than a tourist attraction).
The next site we visited was Clock Court, with its wide open space and mixture of classic and gothic architecture. Through the doors we visited Young Henry VIII’s apartments, which talked about his rise to power and his marriage to Katherine of Aragon – to his separation from the Catholic Church and his subsequent marriages.
The next site we visited was the Great Hall (though Harry Potter’s was better). Each of the long tables had tablecloths full of information about the Great Hall, dining, and traditions during Henry’s time at court. There were several ‘eavesdroppers’ carved into the arches of the ceilings, and the tapestries were statues symbols: the Abraham tapestries cost about twice as much as a new warship back in the day!
We also walked through the hallways connected to the other parts of the building, and read inscriptions of each of the paintings on the walls. There was an entire hallway dedicated to the heirs of Henry VIII, and another hallway dedicated to his wives (including women that ‘got away’!).
The re-enactment room was one of my favorite parts of the tour. At 3pm we all entered the room, ushered inside by Sir Thomas Seymour. Unfortunately photos and videos were not allowed, but King Henry VIII asked Catherine Parr to be his wife after receiving counsel from his group of advisors – in this case, us (including the women!).
After the re-enactment scene we visited the Chapel Royal (with beautiful organ music playing in the background), yet again photos were not allowed. We entered Fountain Court and the Palace Gardens (read here), then branched off to see the rest of the castle before leaving together as a group at 4:30pm. The girls and I decided to see Henry VIII’s kitchens.
The apartments of William III were quite interesting. They were very opulent, and people could actually see the king go to bed! Funny enough, William had a separate bedroom where he actually slept, and it was very simple compared to the ornate bed frame he ‘retired’ in each night.
The Hampton Court Palace tour was interesting because I really enjoy reading about the Tudor and Stuart periods in British history. If the site was not this far away (and if the tours weren’t £15 per person) I would definitely come back!