Hampton Court Palace Part I- 6 day London guide

All about King Henry VIII, his wives and his kitchen

Hello, friends,

Have you enjoyed our London posts so far?

We’ve been sharing a lot of places, but we are still halfway there! London is big and has so much to offer, I have not a doubt that no wonder London is voted on the top city tourist favorite destination goal in 2020 according to TripAdvisor! If you are also planning to visit London, following our blog, you will get some insights for your trip. and today, it’s my favorite historical place in London- Hampton court palace.

Hampton court palace is one of my favorite parts of London, full of Tudors stories if you like to know more about Henry VIII's life, from his six wives to giant kitchen, come on in!

This place was stopped my heartbeat a bit when the very beginning of searching on the internet, why?

Because it’s HenryVIII’s palace! The Henry who reform England! This strikes me, like, no way, all the movies and TV shows about his stories had happened a lot here. I had to go here no matter how many other plans in London, that’s it! 

Why visit Hampton Court Palace?

  1. It’s all about Henry VIII and his six wives!
  2. William III and Mary II had their banquet palace here. Queen Anne, George I, George II and Caroline also had their touch here.
  3. Famous maze since the end of the 17th century.
  4. Superb art collection.
  5. The most photogenic Palace close to London.
  6. A day outside London sounds just great!

Full disclosure here, when it’s about Royal family fares, especially the last 100 years, I am not so familiar with it… but when it comes to old historical England, those stories were incredibly interesting, a lot of desires, revolts, adulteries, killings… yes, that creates a lot of dramas I want to dig more.

Today we will be mostly focused on Henry VIII and his wives and my favorite part- his kitchens. 

Some facts about Henry VIII:

  1. Reign 1509 – 1547, he initiates the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. 
  2. He invested heavily in the Navy, so he is also called the father of the Navy.
  3. He authorized the translation and publication of the Bible in English.
  4. He was a sportsman, fashion-conscious, art collector. The rich interiors of Hampton Court reflect a lot of this part.

Here’s a brief introduction of Henry and his six wives, taught to kids in rhyme: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Now for some details:

Before I visited Hampton Court Palace, I have not known Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII married 24 years. After her brief marriage to Henry’s older brother Arthur in 1501-1508, they got married in 1509 after Prince Arthur died. Certainly, Katherine’s family connections were an asset for a young king intent on making his mark in Europe. However, when Henry got older, he started obsessed with getting his heir, as Catherine only gave him a female heir- Mary I. 

After that, the King married five more times in a little over ten years, starting with Anne Boleyn, the seductive, ambitious woman, who is credited as the cause of breaking the relationship with the Roman Catholic church. Later, beheaded at The Tower of London for committing adultery, she gave birth to Elizabeth I, the future queen of England. 

The third wife is his favorite-Jane Seymour, unfortunately, she died after giving birth to HenryVIII’s only son, Edward VI. Henry claimed the 18 months with Jane Seymour were among his happiest of his life, which we completely feel it at Hampton court palace. there are ten statues of heraldic animals called the King’s Beasts, stand on the bridge over the moat, these statues represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. each has a name board at the bottom, and there are two named after Seymour; the Seymour panther and the Seymour unicorn. Unicorn and Seymour, you know how Henry VIII thinks of her indeed!

Also, Jane Seymour was the only one of Henry’s wives to receive a queen’s funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. 

I am so glad we came to London to know Henry’s romantic part, indeed there is no more of showing love by “Even to death we are not apart”, we traced down to Windsor castle a few days later to see it. 

The fourth marriage with Anne of Cleves was a political move, soon he detested it and wanted a divorce. The fifth is another unfortunate decision, at that time, Henry was already a big 48-year-old man, his wife Catherine Howard was just a 16-year-old girl, a cousin of Anne Boleyn, who eventually executed at the Tower of London of treason for committing adultery. 

The sixth wife, Catherine Parr, twice-widowed Catherine, a witted woman was good at managing an ailing and irascible king and had a nice relationship with his three kids. she was the only wife to survive Henry, also the only queen, a woman who published her own book under her own name – Prayers or Meditations

This story is and will be forever be talked about, yes, he was willful, ambitious, but also paranoid, insecure. He could be mad in love that abled to broke the relationship with Pope, he could also be as cold as a stone, execute, divorce like no others could stop him. What do you think of him? My love and I often talk about him, his complex psychological must be so interesting. 

If the story of six wives is kind of heavy for you, let’s change the topic, to see his kitchen and know what did Tudors eat is definitely fun! 

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, started Hampton Court Palace’s transformation from an ordinary country house to a magnificent palace. After investing huge sums of money, he created a palace fit for the King that Henry VIII eventually took Hampton Court for himself. 

The King used it to demonstrate magnificence and power in every possible way, through lavish banquets, extravagant court life, and expensive art. The palace contained accommodation for courtiers, were intended to impress. therefore, the kitchen became played a very important role, so many mouths had to be fed! 

The King enlarged and added to the existing Great Kitchen, so it became an efficient food factory serving 1600 meals a day (two meals a day serve at 10 am and 4 pm). It is said there were 200 cooks, sergeants, grooms, and pages worked to produce meals all day. What a battle! If you cook, you will know what I mean… wow!

What was on Henry VIII’s menu? you may be wondering now.

Usually, he ate at his private rooms and on formal occasions, he sat alone at a high covered table in his Presence Chamber, he chose from a huge buffet, sampling whatever took his fancy. Dishes included big game, roasted or served in pies, lamb, venison and swan. No vegetables, as it was considered as peasant’s foods at that time…

For banquets, more unusual items, such as eel and porpoise could be on the menu. if they do not have 20 varied meat dishes at dinner and supper, they consider themselves slighted.

ah, it’s not easy to be the cook in king’s kitchen I believe it! 

Also, In Tudor times using exotic ingredients from distant countries was a sign of status. they seasoned food with spicy from China, India, and Africa, or sweetened with sugar from Cyprus (Now I am curious about the sugar and want to go to Cyprus to taste it :P). Sweet dishes were often served along with savory (maybe that’s why nowadays people still do it this way?) 

at Henry VIII’s Chapel

I love cooking so much, so we spent a decent time in the kitchen, from giant soup pots to humongous stove, and to the mincemeat pies for display, I love every detail of it. There’s a staff dress as a chef was demonstrated how to roast at the side, he was a very kind and knowledgeable man, we ask him some questions about the kitchen all got answered. we were so delighted the kitchen gave us a great reveal of the lifestyle at court on Tudor time. 

you can borrow a
velvet vast at a visitor service center near by the kitchen to walk around inside the palace

After Hampton court palace, I feel so lucky to be an ordinary people to be just married the man I love without any schemes, compared to marry a king and under numerous stress of giving heirs or the political advice in the court, it sure is super overwhelming to me, hehe. How about you? do you agree with me or you feel like to be a part of the court is an honor? please share with me your thoughts! 

Tips for visiting Hampton Court Palace

  1. Please book the ticket on their official website, it has a discount price. And please print it out as they don’t accept digital tickets yet.
  2. Highly recommend planning as a whole day experience to fully enjoy all the spots, from the king’s apartment, a maze to gardens.
  3. It’s a family-friendly place, they also provide a magic garden which kids may have fun here.
  4. They also provide different tour, activities, events on the website, you can plan it accordingly.
  5. Please wear comfortable shoes and pack light, it’s a huge place.
  6. Bring your camera, it’s a super photogenic place!
  7. Take a train from London to Hampton court palace is about 40 mins, costs about 30-35.
  8. See stories of William III and Mary II at Hampton Court palace, please check Part II here.
  9. See stories of Queen Anne at Hampton Court Palace, please check Part III here.

I hope you enjoyed today’s sharing, Hampton court part II will soon be sharing with you, stay tuned! you can also follow me @gabbie_arciniegas  & @betterthanauthentic on Instagram or sign up for the newsletter of the blog! you will get a notification of a new post here! a lot of good stuff is coming up!