Hampton Court Palace

For almost 200 years, Hampton Court Palace was at the centre of English court life, politics and national history, with Henry VIII as its most infamous resident. 

Having extended and developed the Palace after acquiring it from Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s, Henry VIII lavished money on intricate tapestries and prestigious paintings, housed and fed a huge court and pursued a succession of wives, political power and domination over Rome.

The Tudor buildings that remain are among the most important in existence, but the elegance and romance of the palace owe much to the baroque buildings commissioned by William III and Mary II at the end of the 17th century. The palace is surrounded by formal gardens and acres of Richmond parkland with deer that are descendants of the herd once hunted by Henry VIII.

Today Hampton Court is an easy day trip for all visitors to London, with at least three hours being the general recommended length to get the most out of the trip. And three hours are easily spent: attractions and activities include getting lost in the UK’s oldest and arguable the world’s most famous maze; gawping at the largest grape vine in the world; a historic tennis court from, which Anne Boleyn was even arrested and carted off to the Tower of London (only from April to October for non Members); the Cumberland Art Gallery featuring works by Rembrandt, van Dyck, Caravaggio and many illustrious others from the Royal Collection; a highly entertaining and unusual visit of the Tudor Kitchens, originally designed to feed over 600 people twice a day (with an annual allowance that included provisions such as 8200 sheep, 1870 pigs, and 600,000 gallons of beer) - you can watch a live re-enactment of the work necessary for preparing a regal feast and even order your own Tudor cookbook to try out in the vastly more convenient surroundings of your home. Guided tours are also available and there are numerous cafes around the site for more contemporary snacks to keep you fuelled during your visit.