Monday, July 7, 2014

In the Court of Henry VIII

Today my class took a field trip to Hampton Court Palace, just outside of London. Hampton Court is known for being the home of King Henry VIII, England's most notorious monarch. It was incredible to visit a place where so much of what we've been studying actually occurred. 

The Palace is divided into two parts: the original Tudor part (built first by Cardinal Wolsey and expanded by Henry VIII) and the Georgian part. It also houses magnificent gardens and a maze.

Approaching the Main Gate
The ornate ceilings were the most impressive part of the palace
Inside the first courtyard

We started off our tour (guided by my professor) with the Tudor kitchens. The massive kitchens are what Hampton Court is known for. The kitchen staff put together hundreds of meals every day when the court was in use and the kitchens reflect the size of the amount of people living in the castle. The Tudors mostly ate meat and bread, as they regarded vegetables as peasant food. However, Henry VIII was apparently very fond of cherries. 

We had only been there for about ten minutes when the fire alarm went off and the entire palace was evacuated (remarkably efficiently!). After standing outside for about ten minutes, we were let back in. It was kind of nice because I got to take some great photos without people in the way!
The huge fireplace to roast meat on spits

The accountant's room
The Chapel Royal is without a doubt the most splendid part of the palace. However, because it's still a functioning church, you aren't allowed to take pictures inside. If you're interested, use Google to find pictures of the incredible bright blue ceiling. 

After we toured the Tudor part of the castle together, we got some lunch from the cafe. I tried a soup with "crusty bread" because it seemed very Tudor-esque. It even came on a square wooden plate! (The square wooden plates used in the Tudor period is where the phrase "a square meal" stems from.) 

Once lunch was finished, Professor Hutchinson let us explore on our own for an hour and a half. First, I headed to William III and Mary II's apartments (yes, that's the royal couple the College of William and Mary is named for). 
An inner courtyard 

The view of the gardens from William's chambers 

After that, I headed to George II's apartments to do some exploring. It was a bit difficult as we didn't have audio guides, so I definitely missed out on some stuff. The Georgian exhibit mostly features the feud between George II and his son, Prince George, and daughter-in-law, Princess Caroline. 

One of Hampton Court's trademarks is the number of
costumed interpreters they have acting out different events
from Tudor and Georgian times. 

I went exploring around the castle instead of heading out to the gardens because it looked like it might rain (which it did!). 
The Tudor Style gardens within the palace
I'm fascinated that people still live in the palace, in
"grace and favour apartments" that are given out by the Queen.
The Chocolate kitchen 
I was quite in love with this courtyard 
Finally, with only 20 minutes left, I sat down in the
cafe with a scone, clotted cream, and jam and read
some of the guide book I purchased. 
By the train ride back, I was exhausted from shuffling between trains and being on my feet most of the day after our busy day yesterday. Today was one of the best days so far and one of the reasons I wanted to come to the University of Sussex. There's nothing better for a European History major than to be able to go and experience that places that I've been studying for years and that's an opportunity I definitely can't find in the States. 

1 comment:

  1. You two are killing England and I'm so excited to see all these pics. I don't know why I was most drawn to the kitchens at Hampton Court too. Maybe it was that spectacular fireplace for the roasting of the royal meats!