Day 2 - Hampton Court Palace

Before we left home, we had tentatively decided to sightsee around Southampton on the two days before our cruise left port, 

  Hampton in the background, across the Thames River.

but Hampton Court Palace was still on my list from our last visit to the UK . . . and I wasn't all that interested in seeing another catherdral . . . 

  Entry gate

so we traveled halfway across the country, taking 3 trains each way, so I could get my palace fix.

And it was so worth it! This place is amazing - and huge!

  The Base Court was being setup for a concert tonight. Didn't really fit with the whole 'medieval' vibe . . .

We concentrated on seeing the interior,

  Fountain Court, enclosed on all sides by palace buildings. 

leaving the extensive gardens for another time. 

We started our tour with Henry VIII's kitchens, including a rare surviving chocolate kitchen.

 Can I just say how disappointed I was to find they weren't still serving chocolate there?

  Click the picture to enlarge.

And I wasn't the only one - we overheard several visitors expressing the same sentiment. Love of chocolate is universal!

  Kings Stairs

Next up were the rooms used by William III and Mary in the 1680's (I remember him as 'William of Orange'), designed to impress with their grandeur and size.

We went up the King's Stairs and into the Guards Room, decorated with intricate displays of (then) functioning weapons. Just pull the 'art' off the walls if you were attacked - very efficient. 

  The wall tapestries were amaaaaaaaaaazing!
Then on to the first throne room

and the more elaborate throne room - rock crystal chandelier, silk canopy, ostrich feather accents - 

which overlooked the formal garden that was used only by the royal family.

One of my favorite items was the hand-carved frame decorations on several portraits. Beautiful, intricate work that would probably be impossible to duplicate today.

Tapestries covered almost every wall in stunningly well-preserved colors.

And who could pass up the chance for a pic of HRH's other throne room? Love the velvet seat cushion. 

  Henry VIII's court is the main attraction at the Palace.
The Great Hall was magnificent, with its carved wooden ceiling,

 rare wall tapestries and incredible stained glass windows. 


This gilt ceiling, from Henry's private apartment, is another of my favorites.

Can you imagine the skill and workmanship it took to create this in the 1500's?!?!

  The ceiling above the Queen's Staircase.

The ceilings throughout the Palace were works of art in their own right - incredibly intricate, vivid and well-preserved.

  Ceiling in the Queen's Prayer Room

The Palace is open for tourists but it's also a home - 

 we found numerous doors marked 'private' with the name and apartment number of the tenant on a small plaque. 

How incredible to be able to live with all this beauty -

  The Clock Court.

and the occasional whimsy,

like these garden markers

we discovered in the

Tudor Rose Garden.  

Tomorrow we board Cunard's Queen Elizabeth and start our tour of the Baltic Sea. Can't wait!


Wenona said...

Wow! What a magnificent palace! Love the pictures!! I would've been upset about no chocolate too. haha