Henry’s House

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On Monday we took the train from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court, to see the Tudor palace best known for being the home of the court of Henry the VIII and his unfortunate wives. It was greatly expanded during William and Mary’s reign, and so highlights both the Tudor and Baroque styles. It’s a very short walk from the train station, and you approach with the view of the Thames and the palace.

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The Tudor entrance is enchanting, giving way to the first huge courtyard. We picked up our tickets and audio guide with no issues, the place was very quiet on a drizzly October morning before the school groups arrived. I do love seeing the kids in their different colored school jackets or sweaters.

The Great Hall with its elaborate roof beams and soaring spaces still impresses, and I loved the little corner carving where someone missed recarving out  Anne’s initials linked to Henry’s. Gorgeous tapestries, elegantly arched architectural elements give some idea of the luxury that must have been surrounding the Court. Throughout the buildings are informative cards, videos, historical paintings, and well informed staff to help you put things into context.

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The art collection is very interesting, with some nice Canaletto, Holbein, and Rembrandt works. Look at this jewelbox  Wolsey “closet”.

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Just as wonderful are the enormous series of kitchens, with vast fireplaces and cooking pots, charcoal stoves, storerooms, and workspaces. Hundreds of people to feed every day, makes my Thanksgiving preparation pale in comparison. And fans of Great British Bakeoff and the preoccupation with savory pies–apparently back in the day, the flour and water pastry was just meant to be the cooking vessel, saving on the materials needed for cooking.

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The Royal Chapel is extraordinary, glowing from the highly polished carved wood, soft light filtering through tall windows, and sumptuous ceiling decoration. Unfortunately no photography, so here’s a photo I found online.

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The William and Mary Baroque additions are a long series of large, lavishly furnished rooms, giving a rather gloomy effect. We were struck by the information on the supremely dysfunctional families of the various Georges, not a happy bunch. But I can’t imagine that the stresses of power, political intrigue, scheming relatives, and a fishbowl existence would make for a calm existence.

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We ate an ok lunch, strolled the gardens a bit, and took the train back into London. From Waterloo we took the bus home, lucking into the front seats on the upper deck for a cheap version of a hop on tourist bus. Royal Courts of Justice, Staple Inn, the  Victorian gothic Prudential Assurance Building.  Just then, a local friend asked if I’d made it to the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court. Larry and Evan were very grateful I only heard about it as we were on the way home. Now I need to go back.

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We walked down to check out the nearby Exmouth Market, lined with restaurants and food stalls. Several interesting options for future investigation. Neighborhood takeaway Indian for dinner from Delhi Grill, not bad at all.

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