Hampton Court Palace, Richmond Upon Thames November 2015

by Emma Bumpus on December 1, 2015

Palace life peaks as Careertraveller and family time travel seven centuries in the footsteps of royalty, celebrating 500 years of drama, romance, art and architectural extravagance.

Base Court is a cobbled courtyard story of medieval luxury, the type that once accommodated and entertained diplomats and court members in chambers furnished with fine silverware, fireplace and ensuite ‘garderobe’ or private toilet.

As we gaze upon this original geometric stone and red brick building we enter the Tudor age world of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey whose striking gothic windows and chimney clusters introduce this bishop’s palace purpose built for King Henry VIII.

Amongst a labyrinth of stone archways adorned with Roman faces the children revel in the palace’s second gateway Clock Court, a spacious piazza of a playground full of regal treasure. Beneath the stately pillars of Sir Christopher Wren’s baroque walkway we capture the king’s complex Astronomical Clock whose gilded dials shimmer with opulence and science.

As the great bell tolls above we seize traces of this late medieval manor house that stands testament to two palaces from Tudor to baroque and complete our courtyard journey in the final Fountain Court, a stunning three storey quarter of cloisters and royal apartments. A promenade below the arches provides a heroic display of mythical and classical stone-carved heads of creatures and gods including Hercules, who spins us sweetly towards the rather mysterious Chocolate Rooms.

Indulgent thoughts of hot chocolate made by personal chocolate maker Thomas Tosier for King George 1 (1714-1727) and George 11 (1727-1760) bring us into the Georgian era. Original 18th century fixtures display beautifully restored handcrafted chocolate serving equipment, which including chocolate porcelain cups re-created with surviving excavated remnants, brings the palace alive after 300 years!

Insatiable thoughts of cocoa lead ingeniously to the King’s back stairs where we continue our sugar fuelled trail up the majestic King’s Staircase, a decorative wrought iron balustrade that sweeps us into ceremonious art, history and baroque architecture. Each marble step unravels theatre-like views of Italian painter Antonio Verrio’s story of Alexander The Great and Julius who compete for a place with the gods, banqueting on the ceiling above!

Lashings of power, wealth and politics take us on a lavish adventure through William III’s State Apartments where of 17th and 18th century armoury in the Guard Chamber displays circa 3000 pistols, bayonets and swords booms with military antiquity.

Imposing portraits, chandeliers and tapestries, made for King Henry VIII present themselves in the form of The King’s Presence Chamber, a refined reception room fit for meetings to Great Bedchamber, an opulent private space brimming with ornate wood carvings and lofty painted ceiling.

Palatial and breathtaking, East Front takes centre stage with a central fountain that sparkles amidst the encompassing River Thames. Detail, beauty and nature engulf this special garden of England, which abundant with seasonal colour, wildlife and harmony reveals 16 gardens. With a dash of Capability Brown’s Great Vine to Henry VIII’s former hunting ground Home Park, we get lost amongst stretches of boulevard lime trees and look for 300 fallow deer and feel rather blessed to be here.

Hampton Court Palace is a magnificent warren of entertainment bursting with delectable secrets and surprises including winter ice-skating rink, whose West Front appearance brings a festive glamour to the palace celebrating it’s 500 year anniversary. An atmospheric glide upon the ice is a grand affair of history and fun all wrapped up in celebratory pre Christmas cheer, the type that deserves an après skate spice infused glass of mulled wine in the Ice Bar and Café!

As day becomes night neon lights accentuate the palace’s towers and turrets that sparkle with historical optimism beneath the stars. As the music plays we skate into the 21st century amongst the penguins and feel proud to slide in the footsteps of Olympic Gold medallist ice skater Robins Cousins MBE. Hampton Court Palace has it all!

Further information:
Historic Royal Palaces-Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

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