Henry VIII’s insanely vast hammerbeam ceiling for his Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace. Built from 1532 onward using the skills of his shipbuilders. A work of the highest craftsmanship and engineering genius.
Hampton Court Palace
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was a longtime favorite and confidante of Henry VIII. Due to his elevated status, Wolsey was able to amass a great fortune that he used to build Hampton Court Palace. However, he fell out of favor with Henry VIII because he couldn’t deliver the King’s request to divorce Katherine of Aragon (lovesick Henry VIII desperately wanted to marry Anne Boleyn). To appease the King, Wolsey gifted was forced to hand over Hampton Court Palace to Henry VIII in 1529. Stripped of his titles, Wolsey met an untimely death a year later.
Hampton Court Palace Court Yard
Henry VIII greatly enlarged Hampton Court Palace and turned it into a splendid place for lavish extravaganzas. Luxurious accommodations for guests and residences for staff members were added to provide ample lodging for the sizeable court.
Hampton Court Palace Residences
Hampton Court could host up to 1,000 staff and courtiers! Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn enjoyed showing off their wealth and provided all sorts of entertainment such as music, costumed masques, dances, indoor combats, and pageants.
Tudor ChimneysAnne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife
Click here to read my post about the place of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s courtship.
The Great Hall, which was built between 1532 and 1535, became the center stage for the extravagant celebrations. Lavish feasts with exotic foods, minstrels, costumed actors, and fools entertained the crowd and displayed the enormous wealth of the King. Guests of higher rank enjoyed a richer selection of dishes and better bread than the rest. They also sat closest to the King and Queen.
Hampton Court Palace – The Great Hall
Henry’s court gathered at Hampton Court for Christmas and Easter. The arrival of the King was announced in style by trumpeters playing fanfares.
Hampton Court Palace – The Great HallHampton Court Palace – The Great Hall
Can you spot Henry VIII in these beautiful stained glass windows?
Hampton Court Palace Stained Glass Window Henry VIII
Hammerbeam Roof at Hampton Court PalaceHammerbeam Roof at Hampton Court Palace
The tapestries of the Great Hall were important status symbols. The Abraham tapestries cost about twice as much as a new warship and were therefore only hung on special occasions. The tapestries were woven on a loom with lots of gold and silver thread to add shine and shimmer in the candle and fire light. Virtues and vices are depicted intended to encourage good behavior.
Hampton Court needed a huge kitchen to provide for the vast number of staff and courtiers. Think about the logistics of preparing food for 1,000 people in a Tudor kitchen – and the repercussions if something didn’t meet the King’s expectations. The Tudor kitchen is amazingly well-preserved.
Original Tudor Roasting Hearth
Unfortunate turnbroches were employed to turn the huge roasting spits, imagine that type of work!
Tudor Hearth Hampton Court Palace
The master cook had to ensure that the “meat be good and sweet and to see the same well dressed,” that no cook went naked or worked in vile garments, and that the kitchen was cleaned twice a a day “so there remain no filth.”
Ensure that the meat be good and sweet and well dressed.
Servants passed dishes and food through these windows.
Is anyone else reminded of Harry Potter when looking at these cauldrons?
Tudor Cauldrons Harry Potter style
Henry VIII, tired of Anne Boleyn who was not able to provide a son, fell for her lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour. In 1536, only 11 days after Anne Boleyn was beheaded in the Tower of London, Henry married Jane Seymour. She became pregnant with his only legitimate son, Prince Edward.
Click here to see my post about the tomb of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy.
Jane Seymour Henry VIII’s Third Wife
She gave birth to Edward VI on 12 October, 1537. Anxious courtiers awaited the birth of Henry’s son in the Great Watching Chamber with its unique stained glass windows. Unfortunately, Jane died from an infection shortly after giving birth .
Watching Chamber Stained Glass WindowsEdward VI, Henry VIII’s Only Son
Henry VIII used to process through this corridor on Sundays and holidays to attend services in the chapel. He would be dressed in his crown and robes set with stones, sapphires, rubies, and pearls and carry the royal regalia. It was on such an occasion that he first spotted young Catherine Howard, who became his fifth wife. She was later accused of adultery and arrested while staying at Hampton Court. Just like Anny Boleyn, she was executed at the tower.
Processional Gallery Hampton Court PalaceHenry VIII
Divorced, Beheaded, Died,
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
The grandeur of Hampton Court Palace is an impressive testament to the pride and vanity of a man who wanted it all. Allow for enough time to visit Henry’s splendid home and gardens as well as the later additions made by King William III in the 17th century. I would recommend at least half a day.
Hampton Court is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. You can take the train to Hampton Court train station from Waterloo or one of several bus lines.
Parking on site is limited and rather pricey. You can also park at Hampton Court Green or the train station. Hampton Court Way, Molesey, KT8 9AU
Distance from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall: About two hours.
Why you should visit Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace
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