• Hampton Court Palace: 200 Years of History, Architecture, and Design
  • Hampton Court, the Royal Chapel

Walk Description

Hampton Court Palace is probably most well-known as the home of infamous Henry VIII. Here, you can see the impressive Tudor frontage, the Great Hall, with its remarkable hammer-beam roof, and the huge kitchens that were used to cook meals for his court of over 1,000 people. You will also see vestiges of several of Henry VIII's six queens: Catherine of Aragon’s symbol, the pomegranate, can be seen above a door frame, Jane Seymour’s arms decorate a ceiling, and it is in the Great Watching Chamber that Catherine Howard’s adultery was announced, leading to her execution.

On this tour, we will discuss Henry VIII and the Tudor palace, but we will also discover much, much more. We will start our tour at the station and cross the River Thames, where we will discuss the importance of the river to monarchs over the centuries. On entering the palace we will discuss how, in 1236, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalem acquired the Manor of Hampton and used it as a grange, or centre, for their agricultural estates before it was leased in 1508 to Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Chief Minister. Wolsey carried out vast building works and turned the manor into a magnificent palace, and we will discuss his architectural innovations as well as his life.

In the late 1600s, Hampton Court was adopted by the joint monarchs, William III and Mary II. They hired great Baroque architect Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild the King’s and Queen’s Apartments. We will see the rooms that they used for public ceremonies as well as for private moments. We will discuss the functions of these rooms and the daily lives of the monarchs who used them.

The Prince and Princess of Wales, the future George II and Queen Caroline, also lived at Hampton Court and redecorated the apartments using fashionable architect and interior designer William Kent. On our travels through the apartments, we will also see great works of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings, precious sixteenth-century tapestries, and the Renaissance masterpiece by Mantegna, 'The Triumphs of Caesar'.

Then we will move onward to the gardens, where we will discuss the history from the Tudors to today and wander through the many different areas, from the formal gardens to the orchard, from the 200-year-old Great Vine to the Rose Garden, as well as to the site of Henry VIII’s tiltyard where tournaments were held. At the end, if you still have the energy, you might like to get lost in Hampton Court’s famous maze.


Duration: 4 hours
Category: History
Venues: Hampton Court
Additional Costs:
  • Hampton Court Palace tickets - £17.60
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    Sarah Ciacci

    Sarah Ciacci has lived and worked in London all her life, but pops over to Rome fairly often. After completing her MA in History of Art at University College London, specialising in late 19th Century French Painting and mid 20th Century Art, she has worked in different areas of the contemporary art world in both London and Rome, before deciding to focus on gallery education. This necessitated a far greater knoweldge base, so Sarah trained to be a guide and qualified as a City of London Guide and as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide in 2008. She now works as a guide, specialising in Museums and Galleries as well as tours for children and young people, she teaches courses in art history and the history of London at the University of Richmond and works as a gallery educator at the National Portrait Gallery and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, specialising in tours for older people and people with Dementia.

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    Sue King

    Sue King was born a Londoner and has lived in several other cities including Seoul, Berlin and Washington DC. Since returning to London, she has spent the last three years studying its art, architecture, literature and history.
    Sue holds a research MPhil in History of Art from the Barber Institute, Birmingham University and has specialist knowledge of Victorian Britain through her study of its painting and literature. Her thesis, on symbolism in Victorian Art, focused on the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and she has also made studies in 20th Century American art.
    Sue is fascinated by London's history and is most interested in the artists and writers who have helped to define it. She loves to recount stories of their lives and works, and their connections with each other and the city.

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    Philippa Owen

    Philippa is an Oxford educated historian with specialist training in Art History. A qualified teacher with over 15 years experience as a resident guide and teacher at Dulwich Picture Gallery. For the last two years she has been on an intensive course learning about this great city. A Londoner all her adult life, she enjoys all aspects of the city, from the architecture to the food markets, from the parks and riverside walks to the galleries and city churches. Her particular interests are the quirkier, less well-known places which only a long standing Londoner gets to know.

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    Ruth Shlovsky

    Born in London, Ruth has also lived in Israel for many years.
    She trained at the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, where she studied Voice and Piano and received a degree in performance in both instruments.
    She is also a qualified Music teacher and for many years taught Music to children and adults of all ages.
    Returning to London in 2000, Ruth undertook a number of intensive courses learning about the History of this great City which she loves. She recently earned an MA in Art History and just enrolled in a PhD program.

    Ruth has a particular interest in Jewish London and loves taking people round the atmospheric markets, little alleyways and old synagogues bringing the sometimes turbulent history of the old Jewish quarter to life.
    She also has a keen interest in the Artistic and Musical history of London and has created walks which illustrate the musical and artistic diversity of this city through Handel and Jimmy Hendrix, to 2000 year old Roman archeology and 21st C modern art.

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    Clare McCoy

    Clare has lived and worked in London for over 25 years. After graduating with a Degree in Geography and a Masters Degree in Environmental Planning from Nottingham University, she worked as a town planner and urban designer in one of the most dynamic, diverse and probably most challenging cities on earth - London! Employed in both the public and the private sector, she specialised in regeneration policy guidance and the conservation and renewal of protected buildings and historic areas in several of London’s Boroughs. Before starting a family in the 1990’s, she travelled extensively throughout Africa and Madagascar, working as a volunteer on several self-help community projects.

    She has spent two years training to guide around London and now has the pleasure of telling London’s fascinating planning and architectural story to visitors, bringing her own personal insight into many of the city’s landmarks!

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    Vivienne Haxby

    Viv has a degree in English Language and Medieval Literature from Durham University. She spends part of each year in France, but for the past 25years London has been home. Following two years of intense training she qualified as a Blue Badge Guide, coming top in her year. She is also a specialist City of London Guide and is accredited to guide the Venues for 2012 in anticipation of the 'Greatest Show on Earth' coming to London next year!
    She particularly enjoys giving individuals and families in-depth tours of London focusing as much on the hidden and unfamiliar as the well-known - she concentrates as much on the here-and-now as the past. The City's fringes - Bankside and Spitalfields - hold as much appeal as Westminster and St James's. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for London's C18 and C19 history and her detailed knowledge of the city's royal connections. She has a particular interest in the great aristocratic landholdings of London, and has created walks around the 'villages' of London such as Chelsea, Bloomsbury and Spitalfields.
    Viv also works as a volunteer marshal, or 'Green Gown' at Westminster Abbey.

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    Eileen Cox

    Eileen is a Londoner, with Scots/Irish roots, who is passionate about literature and history and has “a quote for all seasons” to bring London to life, (as well as a detailed knowledge of the hidden alleyways and courtyards off the beaten track). Eileen earned her Master's in Politics and Philosophy at Oxford, and holds the Blue Badge qualification for the city of London.

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    Sarah Jane Kitching

    Sarah-Jane Kitching recently ceased practicing medicine in order to pursue her love of history and of London in particular. She is passionate about her wonderful city and loves to share it's fascinating past and present with others. She earned a Blue Badge Guide of the Year 2012 award.

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    Catherine Cartwright

    Catherine is a Londoner. She spent four years studying its history, training to be a City of London, City of Westminster, and Blue Badge Guide. She has an undergraduate degree in Drama (Bristol) and a Masters in History of Art (Birkbeck). Her art specialisms are contemporary war art and Victorian social realism.
    In-between studying the humanities, Catherine worked for over seven years in the City of London in an investment bank.
    With experience working on both sides of the track, she enjoys looking at all her subjects (arts or business) with a rounded and 'birds eye' view.
    Catherine spends her spare time dancing, creating podcasts that tell the story of characters and institutions in and around London. She is also a counsellor a mentor for young people in the East End.

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    David Thompson

    Although raised in the quintessential English picture postcard village, David has lived in London for over half of his life, and now considers himself very much a ‘City Slicker’. Fine Art trained and a former magazine art editor, David brings together all previous experience into guiding the quirky, beautiful, mysterious and thought-provoking within London. A life-long love and understanding of buildings enables David to offer specialist tours of both historic and contemporary architecture. The urban fabric of our multifaceted capital, and how it came to be, provides David with endless fascination, surprise and delight, and is his passion in guiding visitors.