Monday, July 22, 2013

London Blog Pt. 12 - "Going to Hampton Court"

Today the weather really cooperated and we enjoyed a lovely, glorious day at Hampton Court. We got a slight reprieve from the 80 degree temps we've been having here. It started out a little bit cloudy during our train right to Hampton Court and upon our arrival, but by the time we'd arrived at the palace, picked up our tickets, and had lunch at the Tiltyard Cafe the sun was starting to come out.

While there we were able to see a special exhibition on the Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber. It was fascinating! Sadly photography was not allowed but you can find more information about the exhibition here. Seriously, check it out. I'll wait.......

...did you check the link? I mean it, check it out. Play around. They've got a cool site set up for it. Make sure you also click on some of the links in the blue bar to the left.

Ok. Good. Wasn't that fun?! And if you're in the area before the exhibition ends in November you should absolutely check it out.

My favorite part were the paper-like courtier costumes they made for a couple of the rooms. The work and manipulation of the material (they used a conservation material called Tyvek) was breathtaking and I nearly died of creative happiness. In case you missed that link when you were playing around above check out more about how they created those costumes here. Seriously, it's worth looking at.

Another nice thing was how friendly and accessible the palace and its staff were. We had little Alex in his stroller. We didn't think to look for a lift and when one of the staff members saw us carry the stroller upstairs she rerouted us so we could see the rooms in order and then another staff member showed us to the lift to get back down to the ground level, and the third staff member who took us down in the lift took the time at the bottom to point out where we were and how to get to where we wanted to go. I was very impressed with not only how polite and knowledgeable they were but also how kind there were.

It was a marvelous day and I will definitely go back next time I'm here as we'd barely scratched the surface of the gardens and didn't get to see all the rooms and apartments of the palace. But I was thoroughly mesmerized by the rooms that we did see. There is so much fascinating history. Below are just some of the photos I took during our trip with my commentary sprinkled throughout in the captions. 

Enjoy!


Crossing the river to get to Hampton Court.



Arriving at the front gates.


First look at the front of the palace, this side dates to the Tudor period. Union flag flying at the top. Overall, at first glance it's pretty impressive.



Before heading into the palace we detoured into the Rose Garden and then the Tiltyard Garden and had lunch at the Tiltyard Cafe. So delicious! I had the fish and chips but I could have chosen any of the other amazing options, from simple sandwiches to roasted ham. And the cakes and desserts looked to die for!



In the Rose Garden.


Heading back out towards the main entrance for the palace.

Loved the Tudor gowns on these ladies!

Walking up to the front.





Inside the Base Court where we picked up our audio guides. They're included with the price of admission and definitely worth taking advantage of. The audio tour is easy to use, very entertaining, and super informative.



Some information on the important conservation work they're doing.

Entering into the Clock Court through Anne Boleyn's Gateway.

Exquisite detailing on the ceiling of Anne Boleyn's Gateway.

Inside the Clock Court. Here you see some of the baroque additions to the Tudor palace.

Looking up at the grand, nearly 500 year old Astronomical Clock.




Heading up to the royal apartments, I loved this silver sculpture hanging from the  impressively detailed ceiling.

Looking across from the landing.

Detailed ceilings in the Watching Chamber in Henry VIII's apartments.


Inside Henry VIII's Great Hall.

Can you imagine the dinner parties thrown by Henry VIII?!

These ceilings were incredible! 

Henry VIII in the middle pane. 

I've always been fascinated by Anne Boleyn. Ever since watching Anne of the Thousand Days.

If you look closely in the middle of this picture you'll see the AB that wasn't scratched out that the above photo was referencing.

These tapestries were amazing.


Radom photo of windows, because I thought they looked cool. :)

Fountain Court

Awesome trees in the Great Fountain Garden. Sadly we were running out of time for the day and still hadn't seen Henry VIII's kitchens. So we sat out in this garden for a short break and then headed back inside. A separate trip will have to happen next year to visit the gardens. I now know to plan to spend a whole day here. Morning inside, lunch at the cafe, afternoon in the gardens, tea at the cafe and then home. :) That will be the plan.

Mushroom trees and fluffy white clouds.

I loved this inscription.


Lots of people enjoying the fine weather.

Heading back into the palace.

Crossing back through Fountain Court.

Master Carpenters Court, heading to the kitchens.


So, they have the kitchens set up to look like they might have back in the time of King Henry VIII. They also have experimental food historians who come into the kitchens and cook meals with the same techniques, materials, and ingredients used during the Tudor period. Can you imagine?!

Fish Court. It was built narrowly, with the open space above so that it would be exposed to the elements and keep the temperature low throughout the year, with storerooms built off the side. Basically this is a massive refrigerator that you walk along to get to the next section of the kitchens.

Seriously though, can you imagine cooking in this thing? Unbelievable. 


Interesting fact (learned from the audio guide): These pies aren't actually pies. They are actually the pot to cook the meat in. During the Tudor period you would mix the flour and water to create the pie crust, cook your meal inside of it, and then treat it like a cooking dish. Cut open the top, eat the contents, and discard the rest. The "pie" was just the method for cooking the contents. Fascinating! I told you the audio guide was worth it. :)

Row of burners for more cooking.

It would have required massive amounts of wood to keep all these fires going! It's stacked everywhere throughout the kitchen.

The large roasting fireplace. It took a lot of effort to turn the roasting spits over this fire.


Room were clerks did the accounting for the kitchen.

It must have taken a lot of record keeping to keep the kitchens in order!

Replicas of pewter serving dishes. King Henry VIII would have needed a lot to handle his extravagant parties!

Here is where the finely dressed servants would pick up the food from the kitchen staff to carry upstairs.
These stairs would then take the servants up to the hall to serve dinner.

Serve up peacocks? Not a problem for King Henry.

King Henry's wine cellar.



The wine fountain. Pretty awesome.



Walking back towards the main entrance to make the ever important trip to the gift shop. :)


One last look at the palace. Until next time Hampton Court!

End of the day, crossing back over the river to get back to the train station.

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