Hampton Court Palace is a palace located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, near the centre of the City. It is one of the two palaces owned by Henry VIII that have survived from the times of the controversial king (the other one is St. James's Palace, a former residence of the king).
The palace is a large complex of buildings erected around large courtyards and gardens designed by the landscape architect George London. The architectural style of Hampton Court Palace has changed with almost every new owner who commissioned its renovations. At first, the palace belonged to the Knights of the Order of Malta, a religious organization which origins date back to the 11th century. Later it was acquired by Thomas Wolley, the Archbishop of York and the aide of King Henry VIII. Around 1525 the archbishop led the reconstruction of the palace and in 1528 gave the palace to Henry VIII as a gift. The archbishop died the following year. Today we can still admire some of Wolley's work. Having entered the palace we find ourselves in the first courtyard, called the Base Court, which contains about 44 rooms for guests. It leads to the second courtyard, called the Clock Court (named after its clock tower entrance), where some of the finest apartments of the palace reserved for the royal family are located. During the first modernization the architectural style of the palace was a combination of the Italian Renaissance style, with symmetrical lines and buildings set around large courtyards, and elements of Classical style. Thus, the architecture of the Hampton Court Palace allows us to observe the transition from the Gothic to Italian Renaissance which took place during the Tudor. Several Italian craftsmen were involved in the works in the court of King Henry VIII, such as Giovanni da Maiano, who performed a set of eight busts of Roman emperors in the brick façade.
Soon after the palace came into the monarch's possession, he decided to extend it using Tudor Gothic style with Renaissance elements. Between 1532 and 1535 Henry added the Great Hall and Real Tennis courts. Moreover, he commissioned the construction of the main entrance with a large astronomical clock, which to this day measures the daylight, the phases of the moon, the positions of stars and even the water level of the Thames. The entrance is known as Anne Boleyn's Gate and was named after the second wife of the king.
After the death of Henry VIII and a succession of several of his sons in charge of the kingdom, the period during which the Hampton Court Palace lost its prominence, the Stuart period began. During that time a decision was made to demolish the palace and rebuilt it from scratch. However, the royal architect, Sir Christopher Wren and William Tallman, decided to keep the old palace and extend it by adding baroque buildings around large courtyards along the lines of the great baroque palaces of the era, such as the Palace of Versailles in Paris. In consequence, today we can admire the fusion of styles, as the Tudor brick merges with Wrenn and Tallman buildings designed in Baroque style and built of Portland stone, situated around large courtyards and gardens designed by George London.
Inside the palace, some of the places worth visiting are: the kitchen of Henry VIII Tudor, a vast kitchen designed to feed over a thousand courtiers, the magnificent Royal Chapel with its famous carved and gilded ceiling, the Great Hall and the striking Baroque rooms of William III with their magnificent gardens, the Elizabethan Garden and the Garden of William III.
One of the most famous stories connected with the place is the one with the ghost of Catherine Howard, one of the wives of Henry VIII who was sentenced to death for adultery and beheaded in the castle. According to legend, her ghost haunts the galleries of the palace. In 2000, CCTV cameras captured a white figure dressed in Tudor clothes opening one of the doors, further adding to the mystery.
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|Neighbourhood||Richmond upon Thames (HAMPTON)|
|Price||normal : 15.95 child : 8.00 (age <15) student : 13.20 (age <26) retired : 13.20 (age 60<)|
|Geographical coordinates||51.4041990, -0.3406210|
|Address||KT8 City of London, Hampton Court Road|
|More information||official website|