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Hampton Court Palace

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ABOVE: The Tudor West Front of Hampton Court Palace.

Hampton Court Palace is billed as "The Greatest Palace in Britain" that offers "a magical journey back through 500 years of royal history." The palace, which lies on the Thames River just 12 miles from London, is the largest of the Historic Royal Palaces group that includes Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Tower of London, Kew Palace, and the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

Hampton Court Palace: a capsule history

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey acquired the 14th Century manor at Hampton Court in 1514. Construction on a new palace began in 1515, and the resulting 1,000-room country house was finer than King Henry VIII's own palaces--a problem that Henry solved by appropriating the estate in the 1520s. Henry expanded the palace, which remained largely unchanged until the reign of William and Mary, when the Tudor structure was modernized under the direction of Christopher Wren. The last monarch to live in the palace was George II, who died in 1760.

The palace today

Queen Victoria opened Hampton Court Palace and its 600 acres of parkland to the public in 1838. Today, you can tour the building's royal apartments with costumed guides, explore the reconstructed Tudor Kitchens, stroll through 60 acres of formal gardens with fountains, get lost in Britain's oldest maze, enjoy a variety of special events and performances, or even attend Sunday services in the Chapel Royal. To get an idea of what to expect during your visit, continue to the next page.

Next page: State apartments




Photo copyright © HRP. Used by permission.

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