Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hampton Court Palace - Meeting King Henry VIII

Hampton Court Palace is located next to the River Thames to the south west of London and was built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514 but was forced to give it up by King Henry VIII. It is the largest Tudor structure in England and it took our Entire day to have a look at it and still had to rush through with the gardens and a few parts of the palace we not accessible because of reconstruction.

I visited the palace with Ashwin ( photograph below) and three of his Colleagues ( photographs later). We arrived at the palace at 10:30 and above is the first view of it. After purchasing tickets we got an Audio guide and started our exploration.

We entered the main gate house and it had 3 entrances to choose from. One was to the Garden, other to the kitchen and the third to the state Apartments of Henry VIII. The Kitchen seemed tempting but since the State Apartments are the highlight of the palace decided to go to the State Apartments first.
The magnificent interior facade of the Main Gatehouse contains a fine early example of a post- Copernican astronomical clock. The clock shows the time of day, the phases of the moon, the month, which quarter of the year we're in, the date, the sun and even the star sign. Photographs Below.
A closer look at the clock.

The Entrance to the State Apartments were decorated by these beautiful paintings.

These stairs are said to be haunted by Ghosts of Jane Seymour, Queen Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn. ( The figure appearing like a Ghost in the photograph is Ashwin- The living one)

The audio guide of the palace was filled with lots of information and trivia. The Iron Works on the stairs were by Jean Tijou and the Grand Paintings are by Antonio Verrio.
As I entered the Grand staircase, the first room was where the Guards room. It is decorated by weapons including draggers and guns which could be used if the need arises.
Photography was not allowed inside the apartments and hence sorry could not post the best photographs. But the State apartment has a wonderful collection of paintings, China and carvings. It feels good to be in the bedroom, dining and the office of a king. Seeing his work place and his reading room made me feel very royal.
Once out of the state apartments We reached the fountain court.
Around these corridors was a Chapel and a Wine cellar, we wasted no time in having a feel of the royal Wine cellar.The palace had three cellars. The wine cellar, with attached drinking house
for wine tasting, held 300 casks of wine for courtiers (wine and ale for the sovereign was kept in the privy cellar). About 600,00 gallons of Ale was stored in the great cellar and have been drunk every year at court.
After a look at the chapel ( photography not allowed again) we reached part of the palace that were dying to; Kitchen of the Palace. The first room is where fresh provisions were received and accounted for. Meat was cut here which included a annual supply of 1,240 oxen, 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 760 calves, 1,870 pigs and 53 wild boar.
These kitchens were made to feed 600 people a day and feed King Henry's courtesans with endless stream of dinner. The kings food was not made here though. The kitchens were accessed through a gatehouse, which was occupied by the Cofferer (kitchen accountant) and his assistants, the Clerks of the Greencloth, who monitored the arrival of all supplies and staff to the kitchens.
In the pastry house both sweet and savoury pies and pasties were prepared in four ovens. It looked like a Shepard's Pie to me.

The spicery was filled with exotic spices imported from the Orient and Europe, as well as English mustard and herbs grown in the palace’s herb garden. The Office of Spicery was responsible for the huge quantities of fruit produced in the palace gardens, including apples and pears from two
orchards. Ashwins selects a few Royal vegetables for our dinner here.

All these facts were explained in the audio tour guide and there were these costumed Historians and guides who did a fantastic job of taking us into King Henry's time.
After the Kitchen it was the turn of the 60 Acre riverside garden. Before that we had our lunch in the palace restaurant and devoured food made within the palace.
We were flabbergasted by the sheer size of the gardens it was also fun to be in and had a great time here.

One of the most famous attraction of Hampton Court is its maze, built in 1695 its path is half a mile long and takes an average of 20 minutes to complete. Walking, running and a few dead ends later we reached the center in about 8-10 minutes

We had never seen trees like this, hence thought of carrying one back home !

Beautifully trimmed Yew trees, they line up the entire Fountain garden.
Fact's and too much facts for the day...The palace is full of history and the garden full of fun

A view of the palace from the Privy garden. Some of the gardens are closed during winter and all are at their flowering best in summer. Probably will come back on a summer.
Now a view of the Privy garden from the palace .
In summer this will be completely lush green with vines.
The Pond gardens : These sunken gardens were used for holding freshwater fish prior to cooking in Henry VIII’s kitchens. The ponds were filled, landscaped and terraced in William III’s era and used to display Queen Mary II’s collection of exotics.

The palace also has a vineyard which has a 230 year old Great vine planted whose roots are outside a glass house and the branches grow inside the glasshouse. Its sweet grapes are used as royal dessert and are also sold to visitors in late summer. The vine has a place in the Guinness Book for being the longest vine in the world.

As the sunset we returned back home after a great time.
The sunset added to the fun of the drive back. It was a wonderful day and worth every minute.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ey man!!! I like the pictures!! Hope tomorrow have time enough for reading all the comments ;)


Feeling much better, almost recovered, already going to the office every day ;)