London, England

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Henry VIII's Hampton Court

Beautiful Hampton Court located in Surrey first came into Royal ownership under Henry VIII.  Prior to Henry VIII, Hampton Court was owned by Cardinal Woolsey, famous for his role in Henry’s plight to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.   Following Henry, other monarchs continued to use Hampton Court as a country house.  The palace that was initially built in the Gothic style would be redesigned by Christopher Wren, under the bidding of King William and Queen Mary.  This rebuilding coast 113,000 pounds in the early 1690s.  In today’s economy, that would be 17,100,000 pounds according to the measuring worth calculator (found at   The English kings and queens continued to use Hampton Court as a weekend house and preferred hunting ground until 1737, at which point it was divided up into apartments for “grace and favour” residents.  Finally, Queen Victoria opened the court for tours to all.

The tour at Hampton Court is decidedly different than some of the other Royal estates.  Because it is not in use as a Royal residence, it caters more to tourists.  Everyone gets an audio tour and there are several options to choose from, including King Henry’s Kitchens, Henry VIII’s youth, and Henry’s apartments, as well as, a set of tours about Mary and William.   The kitchens were the most intriguing to me.  I was surprised to learn that 75% of Henry’s diet was meats and that his diet was so out of balance, that some even think that he suffered from scurvy.  On a regular basis, the kitchen at Hampton Court prepared meals for over 600 people and the kitchen had managers who were responsible for the ordering of the supplies, counting the food before meals and counting the leftovers, and for caring for and keeping track of the dishes. 

Also, I found it interesting the evidence of each of Henry’s wives can be seen in the state apartments.  As he was expanding Hampton Court, the rooms added reflect in some way, something about his wife at that time.  Even though he attempted to have all signs of prior wives removed, none were completely eradicated..

Henry VIII is most known for having six wives; however, it is impossible to forget the indelible mark he left on England in his building projects and in his politics.

Royal Historical Palaces. (2004). Hampton Court Palace. Retrieved from

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