Yesterday, I decided it was finally time, after years of meaning to do it, to visit Hampton Court Palace. I’ve been ice skating there at Christmas numerous times. I’ve had lunch in their cafe when passing by. I’ve even wandered through the gardens when staying in a nearby hotel. But I’ve never actually been in the Palace.
Yesterday was the day to remedy this. I took my favourite Thames walking book and got off the train at Hampton Wick so I could walk from Kingston Bridge to Hampton Court in the lovely weather.
As an aside, I witnessed my first live fishing experience. This man was dragging an actual live bream out of the river that he had caught and it sat there in the net with its little mouth opening and closing. And it was quite wierd to see a fish in a net just flopping about.
He put it back but then a little bit later, I saw a dead fish floating about in the river and it was all a bit strange.
Anyway, moving on from fish! A paddle boat went past just as I got to Thames Ditton island to envy the beautiful houses on the river.
Then, on my right, this appeared.
(That ominous looking cloud finally did its worst later and forced me shelter under the thick trees for twenty minutes.)
Can I just say that if you, like me, have been dragging your feet on visiting Hampton Court Palace, you really must make a visit there soon. It’s entire purpose is to give you a good day out. The amazingness just piles up as the day goes on.
For example, I went into the Clock Courtyard to see the clock that has been there for hundreds of years. It was put up to tell the time of the tide rising at London Bridge so that they would know when to expect the ebb at Hampton Court Palace as so know when to travel.
I’m just looking at the clock going, “Oo! That’s nice,” when there’s a commotion behind me and King Henry VIII and Thomas Seymour are just standing there!
The Palace suddenly felt all the more Palacey and I wondered if I should kneel.
I then wandered into Henry VIII’s private apartments and walked up and down the actual corridors where the actual Henry the actual VIII walked and was generally overwhelmed and my mind was blown.
Ignore the plebians getting in the way of my mind-blowingness. This is the corridor that Henry walked to go to the chapel, where I wasn’t allowed to take photos but you’ll have to trust me that it was pretty amazing. Lots of blue and gold and statues.
While walking down the corridor, I found a little room where visitors were invited to sit down and listen in on a discussion between Henry’s top political advisors about religion and whether poor people should be able to read the bible.
As I left the room and wandered back along the corridor, Anne Boleyn passed by. You know, totes normal.
After wandering through this impressive dining hall….
….and past this courtyard….
…I spotted some Georgians having a chat, Lord Paget and the Prince of Wales, to be exact.
I edged closer to listen in and was swept up into an entire conversation about how the Prince could resolve a disagreement with his father, George I. I applauded when the Prince came up with a solution, agreed when he asked if he should go to see his father now and trotted along obediently when a little hidden door was opened and I was invited to come along. It was VERY EXCITING.
George I and the Prince made friends again and Lord Paget advised us to invest in the South Seas and I pottered off outside, where two horses were waiting so I climbed aboard and off we trotted, around the gardens.
I also stopped into the royal tennis courts, where the Earl of Essex still plays.
That’s William II’s royal seal on the wall there. What a place to play temnis!
By this point, the excitement of the day had almost overwhelmed me but I had a bit of energy left to make a stop in the Queen’s privy kitchen to see this pewter plate from the 1400s…
….before heading over the bridge and going home for a cup of tea.