Perhaps no place in England is more commonly associated with Henry VIII than Hampton Court Palace, yet this sumptuous house on the banks of the River Thames was not built by Henry, but rather, by his chief counsellor and Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey.
Henry liked Hampton Court so much that he pressed Wolsey to give it to him. Wolsey, anxious to retain the king’s capricious favour, handed it over.
The palace was later redesigned by architect Sir Christopher Wren, who created a formal, English version of Versailles Palace.
Glorious gardens surround the former royal palace. The most intriguing feature is the Great Vine, which was planted in 1796. Another popular feature is a hedge maze, built in 1690 to replace an older design. There is also a recreation of a Tudor knot garden, a wilderness garden, laburnum walk, rose garden, and formal fountain gardens. Hampton Court is the scene of a very popular annual flower show.
Regular train service links Hampton Court Palace to central London, but the most enjoyable way to visit Henry VIII’s palace is by river boat, with several companies offering cruises from London to Hampton Court.
Ghosts at Hampton Court?
Tales of the supernatural abound at Hanpton Court. One of these tales centre around the so-called ‘Haunted Gallery’, where the spectre of a screaming woman has been seen and heard. The lady is said to be Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII.
Howard was arrested on suspicion of adultery, but broke free of her captors and ran screaming through the gallery, searching unsuccessfully for Henry, so that she could plead her innocence.
Residents and visitors have also seen a ‘Grey Lady’, thought to be Dame Sybil Penn, who served under four Tudor monarchs.