February 27, 2017

Hampton Court Palace

On my last day in England we travelled out of London to Hampton Court Palace, the setting of much political intrigue. It was the oft-married Tudor king Henry VIII who turned the country house of Thomas Wolseley into a royal residence on the banks of the River Thames. Christopher Wren and ‘Capability’ Brown later left their marks on the site and in 1838 Queen Victoria opened this Historic Royal Palace to the public.

Portrait of King Henry VIII with Prince Edward and Jane Seymour

South West Trains depart London Waterloo Station every half hour for the 35-minute journey to Hampton. From the station it’s a short walk over the Hampton Court Bridge to the gates of the palace. You can also get there by riverboat but it takes about four hours.

South West Train to Hampton Court

Arrival in Hampton

Hampton Court Bridge

The River Thames

Hampton Court Palace Gates

One could easily spend a whole day at Hampton Court. The layout of the palace is a bit confusing, even with a map, so we asked the staff for directions to Henry VIII’s Great Hall with its medieval hammer-beam roof; the Tudor Kitchens that fed 600 members of the court twice a day; and the Chapel Royal where a replica of Henry’s crown is displayed (photos aren't allowed).

Hampton Court Palace and Grounds

Palace Entrance

Replica of Henry VIII's Wine Fountain in the Base Court

Anne Boleyn's Gateway

The Great Hall

The Hammer-Beam Roof

Tudor Brick Chimneys

Henry VIII's Kitchens

Henry VIII's Wine Cellar

We enjoyed a quiet al fresco lunch at the Fountain Court Café and then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the palace grounds. King William III commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to redesign the east and south facades of the Tudor palace in the new baroque style. Thanks to detailed records, the formal Privy Garden has been restored to how it would have looked in 1702.

The Fountain Court

Roasted Beetroot Salad in the Fountain Court Café

Privy Garden

Tijou Screen

Pond Garden

The world’s largest grape vine was planted at Hampton Court in 1768 by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who was Chief Gardener to King George III. The vine still produces an annual crop of black dessert grapes that are sold at the palace gift shops in September.

The Great Vine, World's Largest Vine

We also took a horse-drawn charabanc ride around The Great Fountain Garden. This early form of a sightseeing bus was used to bring 19th century visitors to Hampton Court.

The Great Fountain Garden

Horse-Drawn Charabanc

Britain's Longest Herbaceous Mixed Flower Border

Hampton Court Gardener at Work

The New Magic Garden for Children

There was still much more to see and do (like getting lost in the famous Hampton Court Maze) but I wanted to get back to London before rush hour. Once in the city we took a detour to Earl’s Court Underground Station to look for a TARDIS (a blue police phone box) for my son, a Dr. Who fan.

Hampton Station

Earl's Court Station, London

Dr. Who's TARDIS

On our first night in London we’d had dinner at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants; on our last night we dined with Gordon Ramsay at Heddon Street Kitchen in Soho. I was looking over the menu while sipping on a gin & tonic when my observant friend noticed the Master Chef himself seated a few tables away (whereas I had not spotted him as I took this picture outside the restaurant).

Heddon Street Kitchen, Soho

Grilled Beef, Roasted Mushrooms and Cherry Vine Tomatoes
with Jersey Royal Potatoes

Crème Brûlée with Strawberry Gariguette Ice Cream

As we were leaving I summoned the courage to stop by Mr. Ramsay’s table and thank him for a delicious meal. Don’t let his gruff TV persona fool you, the man is a sweetheart! He invited me to sit down for a photo and a chat – the perfect ending to a wonderful holiday in England.

This takes us to the end of my trip but there are some things I haven’t told you much about, like the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I’ll revisit these topics in future posts.

My Tip for the Day:
Hampton Court Palace is easily reached by train from London’s Waterloo Station.


  1. Faye, Of course he was a sweetheart, but if he was that way on TV no one would be interested, unfortunately. I recently saw a PBS show on the palace and I was just amazed. They talked a lot about the kitchens and the meals prepared in those open pits. UGH. Not a job I can imagine anyone really wanting to do. Thanks for sharing all your photos.

    1. I think I saw the PBS show you're referring to and you're so right, Denise. It makes our modern kitchens seem like a little bit of paradise in comparison. I must keep that in mind the next time I'm busy preparing a big family meal. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me as I reminisced!


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