The site of Hampton Court Palace had belonged to the Order of St John of Jerusalem when it was taken over by Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York – and a favourite of King Henry VIII. Thomas Wolsey spent a fortune on the palace but little is now unchanged. By 1528, he was headed for his own downfall and he passed the Palace to King Henry VIII as a gift.
King Henry VIII did his own work on the Palace, including the kitchens to provide for the entire court. He also added the Great Halla and the gatehouse with the astronomical clock. Anne Boleyn‘s apartments above the gate when she was executed in 1536 and when walking under the gate, you can see one of the last few surviving emblems of the H and A intwined. The following year, Jane Seymour died at Hampton Court Palace shortly after giving birth to the future King Edward VI. Unfortunately, these rooms no longer exist. King Henry VIII was in the chapel of the palace when he was informed of his fifth wife’s adultery. Catherine Howard was then confined to her rooms.
His daughter Queen Mary I spent her honeymoon at Hampton Court Palace and she chose it as the place for the birth of her first child. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a phantom pregnancy and she waited five months to no avail. It was the site of another honeymoon in 1625 when King Charles I took his new bride Henrietta Maria there. It was largely uninhabited for the following reigns and entered its glory period during the time of joint monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II. They planned to demolish the Tudor palace one section at a time and replacing in the Baroque style. However, Queen Mary died halfway through the project and it was never completely finished and the different styles give it its currently multi-faceted look.
King George I and King George II and his wife Caroline of Ansbach were the last monarchs to live at Hampton Court Palace. Queen Victoria had the palace open to the public and it has been a huge tourist attraction ever since.
Hampton Court Palace is a place with a lot of history and it is a lovely place to visit. The different styles are both interesting and confusing. You truly feel that you are walking in history – the sound effects when you walk in help a lot! I was a bit disappointed with the shops though, as much of it is geared towards children but you can’t even get a decent book on William and Mary.