Yet another adventure!
Last week Monday (January 26th, 2015), my new friend Kelly and I took a trip towards London to Hampton Court Palace. Now, before we get into all the juicy details, let me just say that I have been looking up and adding new places to visit in the UK since even before my arrival. Hampton Court Palace was on my list, but for some reason I could not, for the life of me remember why! Also, I was too lazy to look it up, cause I was heading there and would just see it in person. Once we drove up to the entrance and I saw the red brick wonder that is Hampton Court. The only words that rang through my brain were “No Sh*%!!!”
Lets take a little time travel journey together, shall we:
In much earlier times, Hampton Court Palace started off with humble beginnings as just a large barn on the manor of Hampton. The site was used to store produce and was a place where accounts were kept by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John Jerusalem. Once into the 14th century, the estate would occasionally house royal visitors due to its convenient location nestled between 2 royal palaces. As the war of the roses (2 houses within the House of Plantagenet battling it out for the throne: the houses of Lancaster vs. York) came to a close with King Henry VII (Henry Tudor Sr.), Hampton was then owned by Henry’s Lord Chamberlain Giles Daubeney and the estate began to flourish…
Thus the rise of the House of Tudor (the Tudor dynasty if you will)! But first, the palace was constructed into a massive complex by King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. As the lavishness grew at Hampton Palace, Wolsey’s power and over-exuberance was becoming too grand as well. During this time, Henry VIII was petitioning the Holy Roman Church and the Pope to divorce his first wife, Katherine of Aragon for (his soon to be second wife) Anne Boleyn. When Wolsey could not pull through on this promise, along with his extravagance and I’m sure a few other reasons, he lost both Hampton and York Place in London in 1528 to Henry VIII.
King Henry VIII continued to expand the palace into one of the most modern and magnificent palaces in England. Subtle nuances still remain from this period; when Anne Boleyn was in all her glory, to her execution (beheaded), into the reign of Jane Seymour – who gave Henry his only surviving male heir, and dying shortly after.
During Anne Boleyn’s marriage, her and Henry’s initials could be seen intertwined within the woodwork of the Great Hall (“H” with “A” crossed in the middle), where only few still remain. For Jane, he built on the extravagant waiting room (and the removal of Anne’s intertwining initials), full with (I believe) gilded ceilings. The palace itself held large stately rooms, which were constantly redone for each of his wives and his 3 (surviving) children, Mary, Elizabeth and Edward, along with servants, staff, etc.
**please note inside the palace was somewhat dark, and I do apologize for the poor photo quality… I’ll do better next time. I got a membership, so I’ll be revisiting**
The year is now 1547, King Henry VIII is dead, and his heir, Edward I is 9 only years old. Edwards’ reign was short, and he was succeeded by his older sister Mary I (after a roughly 9 day reign by Lady Jane Grey- Edwards’ first cousin once removed) Tudor. Mary, or “Bloody Mary” as she was later deemed, due to countless executions of Protestants and “heretics” (burnt at the stake) during her short 5 year reign. Neither Edward I, Mary I or Elizabeth I added much to Hampton Court Palace. It was James I (previously James VI of Scotland and who took he throne upon Elizabeth I’s death) who brought about a new style and entertainment with the welcome of the House of the Stuarts.
After James I, came Charles I. Charles I’s reign encompassed the English Civil War in 1647, his deposition by Parliament from the thrown, and the first English monarch to be executed in 1649. His successor, rising from a seat in Parliament, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England: Oliver Cromwell. Upon Cromwell’s death, his son Richard briefly took the title of Lord Protector until his lack of authority turned him to renounce the throne. Parliament then turned to bring out of exile Charles II, eldest son of the executed Charles I. The death of Charles II left the thrown to his brother, James II who was deposed during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and succeeded by his eldest daughter Mary II and her husband William III.
This history lessons doesn’t even begin to explain the craziness that happened within the years listed. It does however guide us into the expansion of the Baroque Palace section of Hampton Court. William spent most of this time away at wars, but he construction of the lavish new apartments had begun in haste. William III did more than any other king to make what we see to day at Hampton Court, spending over £131,000 during his reign and unfortunately did not live long to enjoy his finished work. Take a look:
The palace was just completely breath taking and my inner history nerd was loud and proud. I think I may have even impressed a few of the staff with my knowledge of English history.
I can’t wait to go back when it’s nicer out and the gardens are full of color. I think in the meantime, I’ll brush up on my history… let me know if you want to chat more about English history or want to suggest a place I should visit. Also, make sure to check out my Instagram (mstibj) for daily photos.
Until next time, take care,
-Meredith S. Tibjash