This past Thursday, I finally did something touristy! It felt so good to go out again! I decided to go to Hampton Court Palace, the home of King Henry VIII. It’s located on the south-west side of London and I’ll have you know, this is the most southern point I’ve been in the UK! I know, not the most exciting thing in the world, but for me it is.
That day, it was finally sunny, and blue skies were visible and at last it felt like summer. I headed with the tube to Waterloo Station were I took the train down to Hampton Court. I realized how much I love train stations. Everyone is trying to get to their destination and right platform, the woman announcing arrivals and delays, people buying their snack or reading material for the journey and just the general hustle and bustle of the sound of travelling. I love it!
After about a hour and a half of travelling I arrived at the station. You walk over the Thames and you see the palace already in sight. I am a member to HRP so I didn’t need to pay, but I did get my trusty audio guide. Through out the palace there are 7 “exhibits”/rooms to visit (I didn’t see the Mantegna’s Triumphs of Caesar). I started out with ‘Henry VIII’s Kitchens.’ They actually had it set up as it would have been during that time. The meat room even smelled like meat! It was really interesting to see how they prepared the food and what they consumed. (their diet was crazy! 75% of it was meat!).
Next was 'Henry VIII’s Apartments.’ Here you walk through the beautiful Great Hall, with old tapestry, glass stained windows and the high Tudor-style ceilings. (Ceilings are always one of my favourite parts in historic buildings). You walk through the Great Watching Chamber, 'haunted’ corridors, and see where Henry married Catherine Parr. Here you can also see the magnificent Royal Chapel, absolutely stunning!
Then you walk through to 'Mary II’s Apartments.’ They have a exhibit on called 'The Wild, The Beautiful, and The Damned.’ All about mistresses and beautiful woman in court life around the 1600s. Scandalous! There was also a display of 'Young Henry’s VIII’s Story,’ but it was a bit boring.
One of the things that surprised me about this place is the contrast between Tudor style and Baroque architect. I always thought that the palace was in Tudor style. But since William III lived here with Queen Mary II he changed and added a lot to the palace (with the help of famous Christopher Wren!). Boy, did it turn out beautiful! My favourite part of the day was going through 'William III’s Apartments.’ the staircase leading up to it, was just amazing on it’s own. The 'Georgian Private Apartments’ were interesting as well. Just seeing the richness and the splendour of these two areas is so unreal. People actually lived in this kind of lifestyle!
The Gardens of Hampton Court is just another attraction in it self. First I had to treat myself to some ice cream…come on! On a day like that, it just wouldn’t have been complete without it! The grounds of this place is spectacular. You go from fountains and rounded triangular shaped trees, to statues, flowers, bushes and orangery’s. Mom would love it. One thing you can’t miss on the grounds is the Maze. It’s the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze, built around 1700! Being by myself, I kind of felt like a tool if I went through it, but I did it any, because you know my travel philosophy is “You’re Here Now!” And if you’re asking if I got lost in the maze…then my answer is Yes. Yes I did get lost, and the reason is, I did not know that the entrance was the exit as well. But I did find my way out eventually with the help of a lovely man from New Zealand!
Over all I had a lovely day at Hampton Court Palace. The journey home was a bit rough though. It was rush hour and it was so hot and humid in the tube and of course we got delayed for a bit. How ever I can cross of another thing of my list of 'Things to do in the UK!’