Growing up, I couldn’t get enough of the Dear America and Royal Diaries series. Reading the “diary” of Elizabeth I sparked an early interest in the Tudors.
On my first trip to London as a college freshman, I was beyond excited to visit Hampton Court Palace. I’d studied Henry VII and the Tudor era quite a bit by that point and really enjoyed seeing their residence in-person. However, we visited in January, which meant the weather wasn’t quite ideal- cold, raining, drafty.
Now, that I live in London, I couldn’t wait to visit Hampton Court again on a nice summer day.
About Hampton Court Palace
Home to the royal family for over 200 years, notably King Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace was a place of mystery and intrigue.
In case you’re not caught up on British history, Henry VIII is most known for his many wives, and decision to leave the Catholic Church when he wanted to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
The massive palace was Henry’s favorite residence. You could easily spend hours wandering the interiors and exploring outside on a nice day.
When you get there, you’ll be given maps outlining the grounds. A few can’t miss things-
- Tudor Kitchens: Over 55 rooms were staffed by 200+ people, providing meals twice a day for 600 members of the Royal court
- Great Hall (Henry VIII’s State Apartments): The grand dining hall for the king’s staff
- William III’s Apartments: Home to Mary II and William III. As you walk through the King’s chambers, keep an eye out for his ‘necessary office’ (aka bathroom)
- Palace Gardens: Saying the gardens are sprawling would be an understatement. 60 acres of gardens extend to the River Thames, and another 750 acres are considered royal parkland
- Privy Garden: King William III’s garden, beautiful symmetry
- The Maze: A can’t miss on a nice day, it takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the center if you don’t get lost
- The Surrounding Town: I haven’t explored the town much, but we did grab a pint on our most recent visit on our way back into the city at The Mute Swan, and were impressed with their cider selection
How to Get to Hampton Court Palace
Getting to the palace is easy from central London. I caught a South West train from Waterloo station that took me to the Hampton Court station in under 40 minutes. From there, it’s an easy ~10 minute walk to the ticket office and front gate.
If you’re interested in driving or taking a bus, check out the Palace’s advice for how to get there.
We didn’t book tickets online since going was a kind-of impromptu decision, but also arrived at 11:30 (past the opening rush), and had no problem getting in. If you’re going first thing in the morning or on a holiday, I’d recommend reserving online to avoid the queue.
Entrance to Hampton Court will set you back £20, but it’s well worth it in my opinion.
In total, we spent about ~4 hours at Hampton Court. If you visit on a nice day, bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds. If you get hungry otherwise, there are a few good cafes to choose from for a meal or snack.
Have you ever been to Hampton Court? If so, what part of the Palace was your favorite?
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