In 1494, Giles Daubeney, later Lord Chamberlain, leased and modernized the medieval manor of Hampton Court. So, 113 years before the founding of Jamestown, Hampton Court Manor was being modernized. That’s so hard for this American girl to really process.
Then in 1515, 500 years ago, having leased the property the year before, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey began a massive upgrade to the manor, creating the beginnings of what stands today. Since then Henry VIII and all his wives, Shakespeare, Elizabeth I, James I, William III and Mary II, and Victoria I all walked these halls. I could spend days going through the massive palace and gardens. KatieRose volunteered to come back with me with our cameras and just spend days photographing.
The palace is laid out with 6-8 audio tours that are self paced, and give you the option of exploring Henry VIII early years, his living apartments learning about successive wives, James I’s time, William & Mary’s Times, and others. We only did 2 of these tours, because while I could have gone all day, we arrived after noon with the first thing on our agenda being lunch. Queen Elizabeth did not prefer to reside here, but in the time she was in residence, she was bothered by the noise and smells of cooking. So she had her own Privy Kitchen installed to prepare the exotic foods she enjoyed, and to pack large picnic lunches she liked to take when she went out hunting, away from her private rooms. We ate lunch in this Privy Kitchen.
We did the audio tours related to King Henry VIII, and oddly, I found myself fascinated by the medieval paintings. I’ve always found them flat, stiff, and unreal looking. But with the audio guide to talk you through what was picture a real event (Sometimes shockingly real: see the guy leaning against the palace on the right side of the painting, he’s upchucking after over-imbibing at the wine fountain. There was some serious partying going on!), and what was basically propaganda, and what was pictorial documenting of an event not meant to be realistic. It’s an entirely different way of thinking about the purpose of the art.
It was also especially satisfying for me to watch the girls with their audio guides, suddenly moving to the other side of the room, examining something there, or moving on to the next room when prompted. I know it wasn’t their favorite part of what we are doing here, but they were good sports about it and even found some of it really interesting once they started.
What they loved was the hedge maze in the gardens. KatieRose especially had asked specifically to be able to visit here and go through the maze, and they finally did. Scott and I sat outside on a bench to rest and take a birthday selfie for me. Then the girls came out and crashed our selfie. 🙂 They are two of my favorite pictures so far.
As closing time for the palace approached, I ran back inside to do a quick run through of the wine cellar and kitchens. Scott and the girls relaxed on the front green, with the girls chasing these weird bugs we’ve never seen before. They were in little swarms, and would fly rapidly up 10-20 feet, then drift down, over and over again. The girls loved it.
Before hoping on the train back to London Waterloo, we grabbed a quick ice cream cone and stood on the bridge spanning the Thames, between Hampton Court Palace and the train station, and just watched the view.