Hampton Court Palace is one of the most incredibly awe-inspiring constructs in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames just about twelve miles southwest from central London. The sheer size of the palace and the 60 acres of perfectly manicured Hampton Court Palace Gardens are difficult to comprehend upon first seeing them. No member of the Royal Family has made Hampton Court Palace a place of residence since the eighteenth century, but is excellently maintained to this day by an independent charity called Historic Royal Palaces. Whether you are a castle and palace enthusiast and plan to spend a full day exploring the entire palace and its grounds (which is altogether possible to do), or if you are merely planning a fun morning or afternoon running through the Hampton Court Palace Maze with the kids, the experience you have is sure to be an unforgettable one.
The history of Hampton Court Palace dates all the way back to the time of King Henry VIII who originally began construction of the palace for Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey ultimately fell out of the king’s good graces around 1530, causing Henry VIII to take back the property and begin its expansion. In the next century, the expansion continued under King William III who intended the size and scope of the palace to rival that of Versailles in France. The process largely came to a halt near the end of the 1600s and left the palace in an interesting state of flux, caught somewhere between the architectural conventions of the Tudor and Baroque traditions. Because of the use of similarly colored bricks in the towers of each disparate style and a completely inadvertent balance and symmetry amongst the various components of the palace’s lower wings, the two styles blended and the somewhat haphazard and centuries-long construction ultimately proved to be an auspicious one.
There are many exciting things to do from walking through the Hampton Court Palace Maze (widely considered the most famous maze in the world) to visiting the Great Hall of Henry VIII, one of England’s oldest and most fabled theaters. Its historic significance is evidenced by the fact that William Shakespeare’s troupe performed here in 1603 and 1604. For the Hampton Court Palace Maze, you can either purchase a separate ticket, or if you purchase an All Palace and Gardens ticket, admission to the maze is included.
Wandering through and exploring the Hampton Court Gardens could be an entirely enjoyable afternoon all on its own. The breathtaking landscape and expansive acreage of perfectly maintained flowers, shrubs, and trees hearkens back to a time when royal opulence was a part of every day life. It is hard in today’s times to even conceive of one family having one only one palace of this size, but several. Buckingham Palace, Kensington, and Windsor Castle are all so famous that sometimes the Hampton Court Palace gets lost in the mix. It does however remain one of the more popular tourist attractions in Britain and one that you should most definitely consider visiting on your next trip to London. If it is not the Hampton Court Palace Gardens that you fall in love with then perhaps it will be all of the amazing artwork and epicurean furnishings and décor that adorn this massive palace. If you decide to pay a visit, it will be an experience that you will not soon forget.