Hop on a train from London to Hampton Court Palace, and visit the most well-known home of infamous Henry VIII. On this Hampton Court Tour, led by a local British historian, we will both appreciate the opulence and historical significance found throughout the grounds. Together, we will inspect the impressive Tudor frontage, the Great Hall, with its remarkable hammer-beam roof, and the huge kitchens that were once used to cook meals for over 1,000 people. We will also be able to see vestiges of several of Henry VIII's six queens, further informing our understanding of the history of the place—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.
Hampton Court Tour
On the tour, while we will discuss Henry VIII and the Tudor palace, we will also discover that there is much more to glean about British history by visiting Hampton Court. We'll start our tour by disembarking the train and crossing the River Thames, where we will discuss the importance of the river to monarchs over the centuries. Upon entering the palace, our discussion will move to how, in 1236, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalem acquired the Manor of Hampton and used it as a grange, or center, 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; as such, we will discuss both his architectural innovations and his life.
" Our guide's knowledge of history kept us all captivated. It felt like reading a book you didn’t want to put down."
A Royal Residence
In the late 1600s, Hampton Court was adopted by the joint monarchs, William III and Mary II. They hired the great Baroque architect Sir Christopher Wren (the subject of our Christopher Wren Churches Tour
) 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. while discussing 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."
To The Gardens
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.
For private tours we can organize a bike excursion to Hampton Court and a lesson of Real Tennis at the Royal Tennis Court. Please ask our office for more info.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
The walk begins at Hampton Court station and ends inside the palace grounds. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and emergency phone number. Hampton Court is very easy to get to by train. South West Trains run direct from London Waterloo to Hampton Court. The journey only takes 35 minutes.
Can I take pictures?
Yes, photography and/or filming is permitted in all areas of the palace with the exception of the Chapel Royal, Royal Pew and Cumberland Art Gallery.
Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly experts who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible expert.
Will you pre-purchase tickets?
We pre-purchase tickets to Hampton Court. Your expert will have them on hand.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your expert will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is Hampton Court accessible?
Hampton Court Palace is an historic building and, therefore, has uneven surfaces. We therefore recommend that wheelchair users bring their own wheelchair for comfort and ease. Most of the routes within the palace are accessible to visitors unable to climb stairs as there is a lift to take visitors to the State Apartments on the first floor. Staff and experts will be happy to help. However, many of the staircases are wide and shallow (having been built for William III who was asthmatic).
Is this a walking intensive tour?
The walk is at a leisurely pace. There are occasional opportunities to sit, use the restroom, and get something to drink if needed.