Henry’s Hampton Court.
Much of the drama of King Henry VIII and his six wives is played out at Hampton Court. Approximately a 40 minute train ride from London, Hampton Court receives more than 450,000 visitors each year. It is rumored to be haunted and the ghosts of Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard are two that are frequently claimed to be present. This palace has been around for over 500 years and has as many sordid stories as it does delights.
In 1514 Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the most prominent churchman and politician of his time acquired Hampton Court. In 1525 he gifted it to King Henry VIII in an effort to stay on his good side, as we all know you did not want to get on the bad side of spoilt Henry. As Cardinal and Archbishop of York, Wolsey had the most religious clout in England and Henry had given Wolsey the job of getting the Pope to agree to Henry’s divorce and remarriage. Wolsey was unsuccessful in this task and so was charged with treason but fortunately died of natural causes on 29th November 1530 before Henry could have him beheaded.
Hampton Court is actually two palaces in one and has two distinct and contrasting styles of Tudor and Baroque architecture.
The kitchens of Hampton Court are enormous. There are six open fire places where the meat was hand turned on loaded spits. A great job in the winter but not so in the summer when the temperatures in the kitchen were unbearably hot. Documentaries abound about Henry’s appetite and the fabulous feasts to entertain and display wealth and power. It is reported that the kitchens served 600 meals twice a day and there was an abundance of beverages to wash the food down.
Roaming actors give visitors to the palace a taste of days gone by. We were fortunate enough to share our train journey back to London with the young man who worked in this role. Henry is quite impressive, don’t you think?
The armoury room. The photos I have to put up here do not do justice to Hampton Court. The palace is filled with priceless artworks and tapestries. There is also a beautiful garden to explore.
Actually I am not a fan of King Henry VIII, to me he represents the immense gulf between religion and Christianity and, the need for a male heir included, I cannot see how he could justify his actions to those poor young women who were “chosen” by him. When we want to be all doom and gloom about our world today a quick look at history reminds me that there has never been a perfect time to live and in some areas we have come quite a ways towards enlightenment.