Staycation: Hampton Court Palace

22:28 Alyson Tart 6 Comments

I'm so behind on blogging, it's hard to figure out where to start. I've got tales from Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa and around the UK, meaning I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Rather than tackle these bigger things, I'm getting back into the blogging groove by starting locally.

Last year in September for our 5th wedding anniversary, we had plans to make plans. We wanted to be those people travelling in Europe and book a last minute trip the week of our anniversary.  We had the days off, we just needed a destination!

I had discovered BA's Hello Weekend that offers destinations in several cities for that weekend, including accomodation around £150 - £300. A perfect deal!  We waited and waited until the month of. Two weeks in advance we checked our options but decided to hold out until the week before.

When the time arrived, we had the chance for: Paris (which we had visited three months before so ruled out), Gothenburg (which I thought was in Germany but actually in Sweden), somewhere random in Poland and Manchester, UK.

Underwhelmed anyone?!

I was so disappointed by the lack of choices that we decided to forgo our destination anniversary and simply have a staycation to hit up some of London's sites we hadn't yet reached.

The top of my list was Hampton Court Palace - not only is it included in our Historic Royal Palaces membership, but also is much closer to our new flat, just down the Thames. As I've read up on British history over the last year, I've also been interested in the palace due to it's close ties to Henry VIII.

So on the Saturday of our staycation, we were off to Hampton Court. In books, you read about it taking a day to reach this summer residence from London, but now one hour between the tube and the bus found us there.

While Hampton Court was around in different fashions as a manor before Henry VIII, he turned it into it's current magnificence and construction was finished around 1540.  The palace is huge, with all types of wings and some beautiful gardens, including a maze.

We started out our tour through the Great Hall and wound our way through Henry VIII's quarters, to learn about him, the famous tales of his wives, as well as the feud with Cardinal Woseley.

Just like our trip, we didn't really plan out much for our visit. We spent 3 hours wandering around the rooms without much of an itinerary. I was taken in by all the details of the palace in the ceilings, tapestries and ornaments throughout all the rooms. At the end of our visit, we found the gardens, but realised we had to get back home so had to satisfy ourselves with a abbreviated walk through.

As we left, I knew I'd find myself back there. There was too much to see, too much of the history that I love about London and the UK.  And lo and behold, I was right.  A few months later (and just a few weeks ago) we visited the palace for a different kind of tour - one of the ghost variety.

Hampton Court's Ghost Tours run in the winter evenings, allowing a small group of visitors to wander through the "haunted" hallways of the palace. For those who believe in ghosts, I'm sure there are some interesting ones to find there. For others, it's still an eery feeling walking through the halls without light and giving you an idea of what you might have been likely to find 500 years ago.

With the summers approaching and the palace's gardens to explore (plus our annual membership expiring!), I know we have at least one more Hampton Palace visit we have to make.

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  1. I love Hampton Court Palace in summer. You can do the most perfect bike ride there all the way from Richmond along the river/canal. And there are lots of lovely cafes in the area too. What a great way to spend your anniversary.
    Claire xx

    1. Oooh, the bike ride sounds perfect! I love walking along the river at Kew/Richmond so I bet the bike ride is lovely! Thanks for the tip :)

  2. Sometimes staying put and enjoying where you live is the best thing to do. Hampton court is beautiful. I'm pleased you had a lovely time Lucy x

    1. It's a good reminder of how much we have in our own backyard!

  3. Lovely pictures, Alyson! I'd say that as a backup anniversary plan, this didn't turn out too terrible! :) We've seen two of the historic royal palaces - Tower of London and Kew Palace, but not this one yet. You were smart to buy the membership - if we'd done that, we'd probably have saved some $$ because I also want to see Kensington Palace, too!

    1. Yes, it was nice - and no bags to pack/unpack! We actually saw Kew Palace as well on another day of our staycation! Not as impressed with the palace, but the gardens were lovely!