Friday, November 12, 2010

London Part VII: Hampton Court

The Thursday before we left, was a busy day.  We had planned on Hampton Court, followed by a trip to Cambridge to visit a friend of my husband's.
So off we went via tube to Wimbledon, where we caught a train to Hampton Court.  Whilest waiting for it, the express trains would come through, blowing their whistles so loudly, the kids jumped a foot off of the bench!

Hampton Court is out to the East of London, in a suburban area.  It sits right beside the river Thames, in a beautifully landscaped setting.
The train arrives in the station, and the palace is a turn to the right, a short walk across the bridge, and into the main entrance.
Lovely, lovely place.
It was home to Henry VIII and William and Mary (who tore down half of it to have it rebuilt), and has a long and rather interesting history you can read on their webpage (including the ghost stories ;)).

When we arrived I headed for the Tudor part of the building.  I forgot to take photos of the front of the building, and later it was closed for filming!

We headed through the side gate, into the Tudor kitchen area.

The buildings are so pretty!  I loved the courtyard here!

There is a photo of myself and my mother in a Tudor kitchen somewhere.  When I was a kid anyway.  I think it was this fireplace we all stood in, but I am not sure :)  Anyway, I asked DD to stand here, and she wouldn't.  So DH did it for me.  huge isn't it?

So then DD decides she will stand there after all :)

It was dark up the chimney, so I used my camera to take a photo for me to see... looks like three flues!

This is an oven in the wall.  I wonder how many breads a day they baked?

The family gathered around a fire to warm up.  I love the smell of a wood fire!

I wanted a photo of the banqueting table.  So my ever present model had to get in the picture.  When I didn't want her there, she was there.  When I did, she wouldn't look at the camera!  DS refused.

Much of this area of the palace was corridors... old stones and walls that hundred, thousands of feet have travelled before.

Little vignettes had been set up here and there so you could see what it would have looked like.

And in some areas, they were actually working.  I think these ladies were polishing silver :)

The old wine cellars were intact, but I think the barrels were all fake.  There was a lovely gift shop at the end, that we had to abandon for the bathroom!

The garden was lovely and very unique.  There are herbs and roses in it, and I made notes.  The beasties on the poles actually have meanings, but I have yet to look up what ;)

I think they are all symbols of the King's rule (these are Tudor).

And this one, most certainly is!  Like our very own home garden, there are Red Rose of Lancashire and White Rose of York- each symbolising one of Henry VIII's parents.  His mother (Elizabeth of York) and father (Henry Tudor of Lancashire) united two warring families and the country.
After the garden was the Chapel.  It is stunningly beautiful, and like most chapels in England, did not allow photography.  I recommend you visit the website and take a look at the gorgeous ceilings!

This serene courtyard lies at the centre of the palace and overlooks both the Tudor and newer palaces.  We first went into the palace of William III and Mary II...

I try not to use the flash in these places- although I think we were allowed, it just didn't feel right.  Each of the royal monarchs had the huge bed and throne rooms.

Many of the ceilings were ornately painted...

This beautiful long room was huge.  She is right around the centre of the room- which was equally divided.

here is one of the throne rooms.  I am not sure if it is William or Mary's, but I think the former.

And another throne room of a sorts ;)  Velvet padding on your toilet?!

This is the Clock Court.  I did indeed photograph the clock.

See!  What I had NO idea about initially, was that those barriers in the first Clock Court photo, were put there by a film crew.  Who were filming.  What were they filming?
Well, to a visitor from Virginia, who is very used to revolutionary re-enactments, it looked a whole lot like a revolutionary war film- redcoats and all.  And it had pirates.  I know this because a pirate walked past my daughter and myself as we walked into the palace.  For some reason (probably best explained by the fact that I live in Virginia and there are a LOT of pirates reenacting around here) it did not occur to me until later, that he was out of place.  DD turned to me and said:
"You know who that looked like?"
"A pirate?" I asked.
"Yes, but who?"
"Jack Sparrow?" I said.  He was wearing a Jack Sparrow style outfit after all.
So, you can imagine my amazement later, when I realised that they were filming Pirates of the Carribean 4 there that day and that YES, Johnny Depp was reportedly there. So it didn't just LOOK like Jack Sparrow- it was either him or his stunt double!  WOW!  So annoying I only found out later!  I mean- he walked RIGHT past us!

I liked the fountain here.  Not really sure why there are wooden people on it, but it makes for fun pictures ;)

Inside the Tudor apartments, (which we had to get to through a disconcerting diversion because of the filming- they were wonderfully ALL open despite it- Hampton Court has become quite the place for filming apparently), there were some beautiful sights.  Alas, most of the furniture has been turned over to the museums.  Possibly because of the fire they once had here.  A shame we didn't manage to fit the museums in...

Stunningly beautiful stained glass decorated the great hall area.

And Queen Kateryn Parr sat with us.  She was lovely ;)  Apparently she would help with Latin homework- shame I only read that later!

A very blurry picture of Henry VIII and his family :)

Outside, the autumnal colour was in full force.  I think a lot of the park trees are gifts from other countries, but the park is beautiful.

We visited the maze that little miss here had been dying to see the entire time.

And we reached the centre- where I got precisely one photo before hordes of other people invaded.  DS refused again, and DD complained the maze was too easy!  They had had to tear some of it down due to disease in the bushes I believe (these are yew hedges), so it was not as big as it once was.

So we head on towards the formal gardens.  Which we never did get to.  Mostly because I really wanted to see the display of Botanical art before heading to Cambridge later.

DD got to see swans up close- for a first.  They are not common here at all.  Shame really, I loved these birds as a child :)

So pretty...

On the train back, we passed by my new BIL's favourite brewers ;)  So I took a photo for him :D
Then it was time to cross London to get to Kings Cross (again) for the train to Cambridge.
While Cambridge was beautiful, we got there so late I took NO pictures.  And that is a shame really- because I got to see the Grasshopper Clock Corpus Clock and hear it rattle (rather than chime) the hour.  It is very pretty at night, with a lovely blue light, and is apparently using the escapement (mechanism) designed by John Harrison- whom we shall hear more of tomorrow ;)
We saw various colleges (very beautiful) walked the city (very beautiful), stood on the bridge near the river and watched a few haunted boat rides (it was Hallowe'en week).
We were treated to a delicious meal in a local Chinese restaurant by DH's friends (how nice of them!).
Cambridge is an amazingly beautiful city.  It has bike lanes everywhere and almost everyone rides bikes there.
It is on my list for places to visit again next time ;)  In the day.  With a camera.


  1. All three of my children gathered when I started reading about your family getting thisclose to Johnny Depp and not realizing it! LOL! That is so how I would have responded! Keanu Reeve once walked in front of my car when I was stopped at a light and all I could say was, "That's someone famous! I know who he is! Who is he?" It took me two days to find out it was Keanu. :o)

    What a fun adventure you all had!

    Peace and Laughter!

  2. Well pirates are SO COMMON here... I mean I see them at our historical sites all the time, so it just did not occur to me that a pirate would NOT be at a palace. Stupid brain. DD even saw his face. Not me- I see a Pirate back, and think "Oh a Jack Sparrow costume". No thoughts like "Why would Jack Sparrow be here?" LOL

    But it IS funny now :) And makes a great story! I love your Keanu story LOL


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