If you are looking for day trips from London, one place you should take time to see is Hampton Court Palace. About one hour outside of London, Hampton Court Palace is one of only two surviving palaces (the other is St. James) owned by King Henry VIII. If you find the history of Henry VIII fascinating, a tour of Hampton Court Palace is a must!
Background of Hampton Court Palace
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, purchased Hampton Court when it was a manor house around 1515 and turned it into magnificent palace in order to host royalty from near and far.
Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get to stay in the palace very long due to the fact that the Papacy would not grant Henry VIII the divorce he wanted (from Catherine of Aragon).
Even though Henry VIII had dozens of homes, Hampton Court was his favorite. On any given day, there would be 1000 people (courtiers, staff and guests) at the palace. Depending on your rank, you might NEVER see the King while he was at Hampton Court Palace.
The King designed the palace to have a maze like system where people were filtered into different areas based on their rank. This kept those closest to the King at his inner circle while others where given restricted access. It was only those closest to the King that would be able to access his private quarters (eating room, an entertainment area and a bedchamber).
Hampton Court Palace saw many monarchs in its prime and it wasn’t until King George III (1760’s) that it was abandoned and turned into stately apartments.
This lasted until Queen Victoria opened it to the public in 1838.
Taking a Tour of Hampton Court Palace
The Great Hall in Hampton Court Palace is the entertaining space used by Kings for many generations. The room has a large hammer-beam roof, flanked with stained glass.
On the walls are beautiful tapestries that tell the Biblical story of Abraham.
It is also worth noting that William Shakespeare’s King’s Men performed in this space for King James from 1603-1604.
The Tudor Kitchens
The Tudor kitchen was in service for some 200 years! It had three Master Cooks, one for the King, the Queen and the rest of the Court.
The Royal Chambers
This is your chance to see the spaces that even some of those living during the time of Henry VIII in the palace never got to see! You’ll find a game room, bedrooms and even dressing areas!
The Hampton Court Gardens
A day trip to Hampton Court isn’t complete without see the gardens. There are over 60 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens here.
Summer is a great time to take a tour of Hampton Court Palace so that you can see the rose gardens in full bloom.
Each of the Hampton Court gardens have been reconstructed to look exactly like they had at the time that they were originally designed. You will find many different types of flower and herbs along with vegetable garden and the Great Vine.
Hampton Court Maze
Take your time to walk through them and be sure to try your hand (or foot) at the oldest surviving hedge maze! The maze was created for the court of William III and Mary II and is still keeping kids and adults busy throughout the year.
Entry to the Hampton Court Maze is included in a normal admission ticket to Hampton Court Palace.
The Great Vine
Not only does a tour of Hampton Court Palace get you in the oldest hedge maze, you will also get to the the largest grape vine in the world.
The Great Vine, as it is named, was planted in 1769 and still survives to this day making grapes that are harvested each spring!
Hampton Court Palace Activities for Kids
Download the App
Download the Time Explorer app to your phone and you can access “missions” for families at Hampton Court Palace. This digital guide will explain what you are seeing and give you challenges where you can win a badge!
Packed with fun quizzes, activities, facts and illustrations, the free family trails are the perfect way to explore Hampton Court Palace as a family. Hard copies are available at the palace’s Information Center. When you’ve completed one, bring it back for a prize!
The Hampton Court Palace Magic Garden
Kids will love exploring this outdoor space filled with areas focused on myths, legends and stories. There are slides, things to climb, and plenty of room to run around just be a kid! You don’t have to visit the palace to visit the Magic Garden.
Magic Garden and Maze prices:
Adult – £7.00
Child – £5.20
Senior – £6.20
Family – £20.60
Under 3 – free
Price for Hampton Court Palace
- Adult (16+ years old): £19.20
- Child (5-15 years old): £9.60
How to Get to Hampton Court Palace from London
Take the Hampton Court Palace to Windsor Castle Shuttle Service in London
- The quickest way to get here is to take the underground to Waterloo or Wimbledon, and then catch the train to Hampton Court.
- If you are driving, you will find that on site parking is limited. Plan to park on the streets nearby.
Have you been on a Day trip to Hampton Court Palace? What did you think?