Visiting Hampton Court Palace and gardens from London (King Henry VIII)

Hampton Court Palace is the former home of notorious King Henry VIII of England

Lizzy and I took the train from London to tour Hampton Court Palace and its royal gardens. We couldn’t pass up such an iconic destination, the likes of where Anne Boleyn lived her last days in fear of King Henry VIII.

You know him for his six wives, two of whom he had beheaded, and for changing the nature of religion because he didn’t get his way with a divorce. Nearly everyone has heard about King Henry VIII. Forgotten by his father for his older brother, Arthur Tudor, Henry was not meant for the throne.

The man himself, King Henry VIII of England

Lizzy and I explore and tour Hampton Court Palace and its gardens.

Pro tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have a vehicle. Hampton Court is perfectly accessible by train from London.

You wouldn’t believe how excited we were when we visited Hampton Court Palace in 2019. We knew we would be stepping into a masterpiece of Tudor style architecture. But really, this is a tale of two competing palaces.

We descended from the train in Richmond upon Thames ready for the day.

Don’t forget to look up and all around at Hampton Court Palace. The architecture is in its own class of beauty.

Our walk up the long approach to the gates filled us with anticipation. I couldn’t help but think of those who came before us, Thomas Wolsey, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, as well as William III and Mary II etc.

Get lost in the king’s astronomical clock and the recreated wine fountain. Medieval life was about power and partying, especially during the now legendary French, English peace conference, the Field of the Cloth of Gold. This was where the OG wine fountain made its liver-busting debut in 1520.

King Henry VIII’s famous astronomical clock tower.

Recreated wine fountain from the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

In knowing that food was a symbol of strength, we started with Henry’s enormous kitchens, complete with tremendous fireplaces.

Gluttonous meals were once spit roasted over the flames. Don’t miss the iconic Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace.

You see, Henry was a man after our hearts, known for his love of food. Make sure you read all about the decadent dishes the man ate. When he died, he weighed over 400 pounds and required a lift to hoist him up stairs.

Having moved on from the kitchens, we visited the Great Hall and the king’s apartments. Wait, was that a cold hand on our backs in the Haunted Gallery? It’s said that it could be Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife.

Lizzy strikes a pose in the hallways of Hampton Court Palace.

Henry’s Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace.

We lucked out and caught the last light of day through the stained glass.

She’s said to have broken free from her guards in an effort to find and reason with her husband before her execution. Some say her spirit has never left. The stories of love, lust, deception and mayhem are next level.

Pro tip: The Royal Collection at Hampton Court Palace is an art lover’s dream. You’ll also want to take in one of the world’s greatest Renaissance art galleries with paintings by Andrea Mantegna in the Orangery.

The King’s Staircase leading to William III’s apartments at Hampton Court.

This palace is built in two harmonious, yet competing styles. After Henry VIII, this complex saw a Baroque transformation during the reign of William III and Mary II. Soak in the glory of the King’s Staircase.

You better believe we saw the Hampton Court Palace Gardens. These manicured landscapes inspire. When you have 60 acres of official gardens and 650 acres of parkland, in and around the Thames, there’s much to see.

The King’s Privy Gardens.

Pond Gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

From the Pond Gardens to the Privy Gardens and the Lower Orangery, we highly recommend strolling these unbelievable grounds. We even saw them filming Julian Fellowes’ latest television show Belgravia.

Lizzy and I will have to return to check out the king’s tennis court, the hedge maze, the tiltyard (yes where Henry VIII once jousted in official tournaments), rose garden and the wilderness.

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