Hampton Court Palace was 500 years old in 2015 and has lost none of its appeal. Cardinal Wolsey, Henry V111 and every Monarch from Henry until George 11 have used this Palace as a home. It has retained its sense of history and through fires, floods, bombs and every other major threat, it has remained a beautiful, peaceful and atmospheric place to visit.
If there is such a thing as ghosts, then it is pretty certain that they will be found within these walls. The most famous ghost being the one now christened ‘skeletor’ that made his appearance on CCTV by opening doors to alert the palace police. He has become so famous that he has his own video on You tube. Others are quieter and a little less likely to steal the limelight – but they are there nevertheless. Even the most sceptic of employees has had to admit in the end that some things can just not be explained.
Henry V111’s State Apartments contain the beautiful Abraham tapestries that were woven in Brussels and still hang in the spot where they could have been seen, gleaming in the candlelight, almost 500 years ago.
Entering the Palace, one walks through an avenue of King’s Beasts. These were intended as a reminder of the Royal pedigree. Each beast is associated with a powerful patron. For example, the Lion of England, the Welsh Dragon because the Tudors originated in Wales and the Greyhound of Richmond. Some have collars and chains around their necks because in the days before female equality, these belonged to the Queen who was chained to her master, the King. Perhaps not a thing we would see today!
From the 1690s, William 111 and Mary 11 wanted Sir Christopher Wren to demolish the old Tudor Palace and to build a Baroque palace on the lines of Versailles in its place, but both died before the task could be finished. Luckily today, we have Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian architecture to admire.
The kitchens are not to be missed and neither are the gardens. The Privy Garden was replanted after the fire restoration of 1986 in the style of 1701 and later opened by Prince Charles.
Conservation, restoration and maintenance are all essential watchwords in this Royal Palace and the beauty of this building remains as original as can possibly be achieved.