Hampton Court Palace and Gardens

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Britain is a place of enormous historical significance and its capital London, is home to some of the most historical sites including palaces, castles, and other landmarks. The city attracts more than 17 million visitors every year who come to see and explore its countless attractions.

With an increasing stream of visitors arriving every year the city has numerous luxury hotels for families. In fact there is a wide variety of accommodation to suit all types of travellers to the city. From trendy 5 star hotels to budget hotels there are a variety of places to stay.

Hampton Court Palace in England
In terms of price and facilities one of the best hotels to stay in on a visit to the capital is The Montcalm London City at the Brewery Hotel. It offers the best of in terms of customer service, the finest in amenities all at a very comfortable price. Another advantage is that it is close to some of the best historical attractions in London. One such historical palace to visit when in London is Hampton Court Palace and Gardens.

History

Hampton Court consists of two palaces. One is a Tudor palace that was started by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who redeveloped a 14th century house of the Knights Hospitaller of St John into a palace. It later was acquired by Henry VIII. The second palace was designed by Sir Christopher Wren for William and Mary and included its famous gardens.

When Henry took over Cardinal Wolsey’s palace he spent a small fortune on embellishing it further to create an ornate palace fit for his new wife and Queen Ann Boleyn. It included a grand great hall, royal council chambers, privy quarters, large new kitchens, bowling alleys and a tennis court etc. It was however used by Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour. It was where William Shakespeare performed with his acting troupe in 1603, for James I.

William and Mary’s Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace underwent a complete transformation during the joint reign of William and Mary, who engaged the services of Sir Christopher Wren to redesign and modify the place. He redesigned it in classic baroque style that rivalled the finest palaces in Europe. After Queen Mary passed away William lost interest and it was only 6 years later that the king’s apartments were completed. It eventually diminished in popularity with the future monarchs with George III giving it out to favoured courtiers.

Some of the top attractions are

Haunted Gallery

It is the place where the alleged ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife, is said to haunt the area. It is said that when Catherine was told that she was charged with she tried to meet King Henry VIII in the in the chapel and plead with him of her innocence. However, she was caught by the guards before she could speak to him and they dragged her to her room, while she continued to beg and plead for mercy. It is said that her ghost still haunts the gallery till date.

Chapel Royal

The Chapel Royal is one of the most ornately decorated rooms at the palace. It was originally built by Cardinal Wolsey and is still in use for religious services. It stunning vaulted ceiling which features decorative vaulted ribs, gilded pendants and is beautifully painted was built by King Henry VIII.

King and Queen’s Apartments

After you have visited the Tudor Hampton palace a visit to the King and Queen’s apartments is a must. They are separate from the Tudor palace and have their own staircase with private suites of rooms. One of the highlights is the grandiose King’s Staircase that has amazing murals done by Antonio Verrio. The staircase leads to the Guard Chamber, which has a massive collection of weapons from the 17th and 18th centuries. Once you go through connecting chambers which include the King’s Eating Room, with its hearth that is surrounded by elegant woodwork done Grinling Gibbons. After the King’s Apartments there is the Little Bedchamber and Great Bedchamber along with a set of private apartments for the king.

Mary II’s Apartments

Built in similar style to the King’s Apartments, it consists of connecting rooms accessible by a grand staircase that is embellished with murals by William Kent. The apartments were built from the Tudor quarters that were initially meant for Anne Boleyn. The Queen’s rooms were done in Baroque style by Sir John Vanbrugh. He also designed the fireplace in the Guard Chamber. The Queen’s Bedchamber has a state bed made for George II and Queen Caroline. The ceiling features beautiful paintings Sir James Thornhill that depict members of the royal family.

Georgian Private Apartments

These were built for King George II and his family. While the suites pale in comparison to the King’s and Queen’s Apartments in architecture, the highlight is the magnificent collection of artwork that is exhibited here. These include priceless works done by Sir Peter Lely and Caravaggio. There also is the exquisite Wolsey closet that has a spectacular painted frieze.

Gardens and Grounds

As stunning as the palace is equally captivating is the Great Fountain Garden. It contains broad, gravelled walks with 13 fountains and wide canals that are surrounded by long stretched avenues of lime trees. There is the Privy Garden to the south of the palace that was built for private use by the monarch. Towards the end near the river is a gilded wrought iron screen done by Jean Tijou that offers views of the River Thames from the palace grounds. There is also a sunken garden at the far end made for Mary II. There also is a greenhouse that is where visitors can see the Great Vine planted in 1768 by Capability Brown that still bears fruit every year.