Yesterday we walked in the footsteps of King Henry VIII and his wives at Hampton Court Palace. This robust king is most known for his larger than life figure, six wives, and his break with the Roman Catholic Church. Not only did Henry frequent here but so did all six of his wives. This was one of his favorite palaces. This palace would witness the birth of his deeply desired son, Edward, and death of his “true wife” Jane Seymour. It was the Buckingham Palace of Henry and for a few monarchs to follow. We were fortunate to see what life was like for this monarch of the Tudor period.
We walked through the entrance and was immediately transported back in time. First stop: banquet hall. It was massive. Table after table with the sunlight showering through the stain glass windows and unto the mounted deer heads. The walls echoed the laughter of the royal court who were immensely entertained there. An impressive ceiling covered the walls which were adorned with Henry’s personal tapestries. The worn out tapestries depict stories of the Old Testament Patriarch Abraham. Henry identified himself with this patriarch. Abraham was the father of the Jewish people who made the covenant with God. Because of Henry’s break off with the Catholic Church he saw himself as the father of the English people leading them into the new covenant with God through his founding of the Church of England. We proceeded into the next room which people would wait to see the king and petition their concerns and requests. As usual click on pictures to make bigger & keep scrolling more pictures on bottom.
We saw the gallery corridor which is supposedly haunted by Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife. She was accused of adultery, placed under house arrest at the palace, and ran down the gallery corridor looking for Henry screaming to him to spare her life. But guards took hold of her and brought her back to her room. Shortly after Catherine was executed at the Tower of London, which we visited earlier in the trip. Adjacent was the small room where Henry married his sixth and last wife Katherine Parr. Additionally we visited the royal chapel where Henry and the court would gather on Sundays and Holy Days. We were able to see the pew where Henry and his wife(s) would sit.
A century later King William III enlarged and updated the palace so that it could rival the Palace of Versailles in Paris, which we also visited a few weeks ago. The gardens were beautiful: flowers bright, grass tightly manicured, and bushes artistically trimmed. A few gardeners were working on it while we were there. One gardener even had a pair of scissors and was meticulously cutting the edge of the grass. We even walked through a tunnel made entirely of vines. The palace was busy setting up for the annual Palace Music Festival. And this year some famous people were coming to play, including the Beach Boys. This place is definitely worth a visit! It certainly holds up to its nickname: England’s Palace of Versailles.