Hampton Court Palace is the former home of the flamboyant King Henry VIII. He extended and developed this grand palace after acquiring it in the 1520s and its many royal occupants have furnished the palace with decadent tapestries and paintings throughout the centuries.
Set in 60 acres of formal gardens, including the famous maze and Great Vine, this palace is well worth a visit. Hampton Court Gardens span over 60 acres of lush greenery, parkland and plantations.Hampton Court Gardens are a horticultural feat to be admired.
The park covers 750 acres and the formal gardens cover 60 acres. Within the Court Gardens lies the Great Vine, The Privy Garden – a recreation of the 1702 garden for William III, Tiltyard Walls, Home Park – 700 acres of deer park with ponds and wild birds, not to mention the Palace Maze from 1690, made up of half a mile of winding passages between 7ft high yew trees.
Hampton Court Palace is believed to be haunted by a screaming lady thought to be Catherine Howard, and the grey ghost Dame Sybil Penn is believed to roam the Clock Courts. A replica of the crown that was made for Henry VIII, and was worn at the coronations of each of his children, sits in the Royal Pew on display for visitors.
It stands as a symbol of power, monarchy and religious authority. The original was melted down at the Tower of London by decree of Oliver Cromwell in 1649. The replica was built from the detailed descriptions of Henry VIII’s servants who itemised the size and position of each 344 rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and pearls that embellish the crown.
The Chapel Royal delivers traditional services throughout the year and is a masterpiece of religious architecture with a rich colourful design in Tudor style. Kings and queens sit in the private pew which looks down the main body of the chapel and it was even here, in 1540, where Archbishop Cranmer handed Henry VIII the letter accusing Catherine Howard of her adulterous behaviour.
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