Hampton Court Palace
As a kid, I was fascinated with the Tudors. I absolutely loved all of the Horrible Histories books but The Terrible Tudors was my favourite by far. (Later in life I took a Tudor history A level but the less said about that, the better) My grandparents took me to Hampton Court a few times and I still have really strong memories of how much I loved it there. For years, I've been meaning to return and this week I finally managed it. Only it was entirely as amazing as I remembered.
As we arrived, I was pleased to see that my memories are completely accurate. The bollards that my brother and I played on as kids are still there lining the grass and the front of the Palace is exactly as I remember. It's a beautiful example of Tudor architecture, started in 1515 as a home for Henry VIII, transformed from the original Medieval Hampton manor.
Inside, the rooms are maze-like, and I found it quite difficult to find specific locations, although there are lots of workers in smart, distinctive uniforms who are all very happy to help. Despite the vastness of the palace from the outside, it seemed that we covered all areas very quickly. I'm pretty sure we must have missed something because it doesn't feel like we saw much at all.
As you would imagine, Henry VIII's presence is felt everywhere, from his appearance in stained glass windows to the paintings that stare down at you wherever you go. Unfortunately, I didn't learn as much as I was hoping to while visiting. I suspect there is lots of information written down around the palace but I didn't spot any. Most probably because I was trying to contain 30 children at the same time!
As it was an educational trip, we'd booked a talk from one of the palace's costumed presenters, who took us on a tour of the kitchens. I found his delivery to be a little dry and sarcastic which would generally be my humour but is difficult for 9 year olds to understand. Somebody a little more animated and energetic would be my preference but we still learned a lot about the kitchens and how an army of workers kept them running smoothly.
Of course no trip to a historical centre like this would be complete without a trip to the shop but even that was underwhelming for me. There are four shops but there wasn't much variety in Henry Shop, the one we visited, which was a shame.
There's no denying that Hampton Court Palace is a breathtaking piece of Tudor history. It's stunning and I'm very glad I visited. I had intended to return on my own but, having been now, I don't feel the need to. Unfortunately, it just wasn't as magical as I remember.
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