Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - It's Good to be King

“Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.” - Nikos Kazantzakis

Henry the Eighth was a larger than life figure in English history. Standing 6'2", he was head and shoulders above most Englishmen.

Besides marrying six wives in his desperate quest to have a son, Henry also had a prolific number of palaces. A king had to have a place to stay when he traveled with his royal retinue, didn't he. So if he didn't build one, he merely confiscated the palace of another.

This was the case of Hampton Court which is about a half-hour train trip southeast of London. The palace originally belonged to Cardinal Woolsey, who fell out of favor with the king, and graciously offered it up to Henry in exchange for his head.

However, when George II and his wife Caroline moved in, they were not enamoured of the elaborate Tudor style architecture of the building, and commissioned Christopher Wren to begin renovations, starting in the east wing. Fortunately, George and Caroline ran out of money during these renovations, and today you can see the two distinct architectural styles side-by-side at the castle.

As with many of the older buildings in England, Hampton Court itself is rumoured to have a ghost haunting its hallways. That may be true. I know that during my visit I saw many figures in robes and capes in the halls of the castle. In fact, one was so close, I could touch him.

The palace has a wonderful Tudor garden to the rear, filled with yew trees that give shelter to visitors who get caught in one of England's famous rainstorms. It also has a wall garden whose claim to fame is that it is the longest one in England. You can take a short horse and carriage ride around this garden and feel just like royalty yourself.


  1. Hampton Court was my favorite palace to visit while I was there. So many cool things to see!

  2. don't think I am going to dress like that