I had already booked our entrance tickets online here for Hampton Court, as it worked out cheaper than even using the voucher for 2nd adult half price. We just had to produce the confirmation email to get our tickets, which included all the tours round the Palace, tapes/headset for the audio tour, entrance to the Maze and the gardens.
We walked up the drive to the entrance to the Palace and both had a real sense of déjà vu. The Palace is magnificent, you enter the gate into Base Court which is surrounded by apartments which were intended for the guests of Cardinal Wolsey, who owned the Palace before Henry VIII. The welcome tour starts here with one of the guides dressed in traditional Tudor costume imparting information about how the Palace evolved from Wolsey's time to its present appearance. The entrance to Clock Court was closed off whilst we were there because the clock and its tower is being renovated. The magnificent Astronomical Clock face was propped up on the ground in Clock Court. The clock interestingly shows the sun revolving around the earth. The clock was installed in 1540 - before the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus changed the way we view the universe. The clock shows the hour,month, day, number of days since the beginning of the year and phases of the moon as well as time of high tide at London Bridge .
We joined the tour through Henry VIII's state apartments but unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside the Palace apart from the kitchens, though we were naughty and did manage to get one of the crest outside the Chapel Royal, where Henry's son Prince Edward was Christened and the boy's mother Jane Seymour was buried.
We walked through the Haunted Gallery where Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife, is supposed to have run after escaping from her rooms begging the King for mercy after she was arrested for adultery and sentenced to death. MWM swears someone touched him whilst we were standing in the gallery though there was no-one near him at the time!
All the rooms, as you might expect, are fabulous. Though a lot of the original chambers have disappeared over the years as the Palace has been altered, some of the original tapestries and the ornate ceilings and panneling have survived and it is awesome to think one could be standing possibly on the same spot as Kings, Queens and famous courtiers once stood.
The original kitchens are still there and are reconstructed to look as they would have been during Henry VIII's time and are accessed through various courtyards. Fish Court was the centre of operation as each of the doors led to a different office of kitchens i.e. the pastry house, the flesh larder and fish larder (see slides).
The gardens at Hampton Court are huge, over 60 acres, so obviously we couldn't see them all but we did take a few photographs as we walked to the Maze (see slides). MWM took the lead through the Maze but got us to two dead ends, so I took over and found the centre of the Maze with no wrong turns. I'm sure I've been there before in a previous life!
We had to decide whether to leave at 2 p.m. and go back by bus and maybe manage an hour in Kew Gardens, or travel by ferry up the Thames to Kew which took 1 1/2 hours leaving at 3 p.m. Well I always say a holiday isn't a holiday without a boat trip so that's what we did. There are some beautiful houses along the Thames, all with their own boats, and where there are no houses the riverbank is beautiful and lush almost like a jungle. We saw lots of herons, wild geese, swans and ducks on the river and really enjoyed watching all the activity on the riverbank. It was really interesting going through Teddington Lock which took about ten minutes. We took some photos as we sailed along (see slides).
We got off the ferry at Kew and had to walk through Kew Gardens to get back to our accommodation, so we called in at the Rose and Crown for a quick drink and watched some cricket on Kew Green. We then decided to go a different way back to explore and found The Railway pub on the other side of the station, which we hadn't noticed previously. Naturally we had to sample some of their beer but whilst we were there the heavens opened and the rain was lashing down! We had been really lucky with the weather since we arrived in London, because whenever we were outside the sun was shining and when we were inside it rained! We decided to stay in the Railway and have something to eat and a couple more drinks then go home. Guess what? By the time we were going home some 3 hours later the rain had stopped, so once again we were lucky!
Our train home the next day was at 11.35 a.m. from Euston so there wasn't any time to do any more sightseeing, unfortunately. We had a lovely relaxing journey home to Manchester where our youngest son picked us up.
We had a wonderful time and are both exhausted with all the sightseeing. We will go back to London, perhaps next summer, to see Kew Gardens and the Museums which we didn't have time to see
See London Day 1 and 2