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A Visit to Hampton Court Palace

For almost 200 years, Hampton Court Palace was at the centre of English court life, politics and national history with its most infamous resident Henry VIII. Today Hampton Court is a fascinating trip for all visitors to London who hire a coach.

Coach hire to London means you arrive at Hampton Court Palace refreshed and ready to enjoy the visit and glean some fascinating insights into the unique history of this stunning Royal palace.

The History

Although known as The Palace of Hampton Court the structure is really a story of two palaces. The original Tudor Palace was magnificently developed in 1515-1521 by Cardinal Wolsey who spent lavishly to build the finest palace in England at the time but later was forced to give the palace to Henry VIII as the Cardinal began to fall from favour.

Henry added the Great Hall which was the last mediaeval Great Hall built for the English monarchy and the Royal Tennis Court, which was built and is still in use for the game of real tennis today. This court is now the oldest real tennis court in the world that is still in use.

When Henry VIII removed Wolsey from the palace in 1529, the king spent lavishly to create sumptuous surroundings that were fit for his royal needs. This included expanding certain sections, including creating a bigger kitchen for serving large meals in the Great Hall.

During the reign of William and Mary, parts of Henry's additions were demolished. A new wing was added (partly under the supervision of Sir Christopher Wren) and the state apartments came into regular use. Half the Tudor palace was replaced in a project that lasted from 1689-1694.

From the reign of George III in 1760, monarchs tended to favour other London homes, and Hampton Court ceased to be a royal residence.

The palace has a long history that stretches over seven centuries, however It was Queen Victoria who first opened the palace to the general public, allowing paid visitors the opportunity to explore the fabulous surroundings. No doubt many visitors back then wished they had the benefit of modern day London coach hire.

What you can see at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and extensive parkland that are also open to the public, along with a mixture of architectural styles that blend together beautifully.

Wandering around the royal palace grounds, there’s no shortage of delights, including the Great Vine, the stunning Privy Garden, the Royal Tennis Court and the world famous Hampton Court maze which coach and minibus hire in London groups have huge fun exploring.

The Trophy Gate is the starting point for most tourists, although you can also enter at the Lion Gate opposite the entrance to Bushy Park. As you enter the trophy gate you are presented with a long gravelled avenue and the palace’s main entrance (the West Gate).

Hampton Court Palace and its grounds are so large that tourists are advised to break their visit into tours of the different palace sections. Some history groups find it so interesting that it's easier to stagger their visit over 2 days and when you book your London coach hire remember we can also supply minibus hire if you want to go in smaller groups.

The main sections are clearly signposted but the most well known monarch is Henry VIII and many visitors start by viewing his state apartments which takes you on a fascinating historical tour through the palace’s Tudor period and Henry’s life here with his six wives and children.

The largest room in Hampton Court Palace and undoubtedly one of its main draws is the Great Hall, which is where Henry VIII entertained guests at banquets.

The vast hall catered for around 450 people, who sat twice daily. You can get a sense of the huge quantities of food and drink consumed from reading the annotated table cloths on the long dining tables.

From the Great Hall, you enter the Horn Room, complete with its original Tudor oak steps leading down to the immense kitchens. The walls are decorated with antlers and horns, which date from a later period in the palace’s history.

Visiting the immense Tudor kitchens is a must see. It was here that kitchen staff boiled large joints of beef and mutton in the boiling pot to reduce the time needed for roasting in the Great Kitchen.

The kitchen’s vast area was divided into three sections, the first kitchen, middle kitchen and third kitchen. This is where most of the food was assembled before being taken upstairs to the Great Hall. To give tourists an idea of what it was like, there are replica food and utensils on show throughout the Tudor Kitchens section.

If all this makes you hungry make sure you have booked your London coach hire itinerary with a stop for dinner. Just let our specialist booking team know where you want to go and your chariot will take you there in comfort.

There is so much more to see at Hampton Court Palace that we could easily fill 3 blogs, so here are few other highlights.

Don't worry about taking your time visiting these wonderful sights as your coach hire driver is waiting at the pick up point when you need to rest those tired legs.

The Haunted Gallery is named after Henry VIII’s fifth wife Catherine Howard who was the second (and last) to be beheaded. Apparently her ghost roams the long corridor (hence the name).

The Chapel Royal, which the official guidebook says has been in continuous use since Henry VIII’s reign. Divided into the Royal Pew and Chapel, it’s one of the few rooms where you can’t take any photos.

The Chapel also contains a reproduction of Henry VIII’s crown. This is made of gold, silver, pearls and real gemstones. The original was destroyed in 1649 under Oliver Cromwell’s reign.

The Wolsey Rooms and Renaissance Picture Gallery are accessed under the colonnade in Clock Court. The former was the private lodgings of Hampton Court Palace’s original owner Cardinal Wolsey. Although later royals adapted the rooms to their own personal tastes, some original Tudor features survive.

The King’s Apartments were built in the late 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect behind St Paul’s Cathedral, the King’s Apartments and the Queen’s State Apartments were the only parts of the original Hampton Court Palace to be rebuilt. They now form part of the impressive Baroque Palace section.

One of the main highlights is the Queen’s Drawing Room, which was commissioned by Queen Anne.

Sir Christopher Wren’s design is probably the best expression of the Baroque style in England”. When you visit and see this, you’ll see it’s a masterpiece of design.

The Wrap

We have barely touched on the grounds and exterior of the palace so you can see why many coach hire groups to London take the opportunity for an overnight stay and can either revisit the next day or add another destination to your London coach hire itinerary.
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