Hampton Court Palace is a historic royal palace located in the borough of Richmond upon Thames, London. It is a stunning example of Tudor architecture and is known for its well-manicured gardens, impressive courtyards, and remarkable historical collections. Hampton Court Palace is a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of visitors every year. The palace has been used for several purposes, including as a royal residence and as a venue for cultural events and celebrations. In this essay, we will explore the history, architecture, and the tourist attractions of Hampton Court Palace.
History of Hampton Court Palace
The palace was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was one of the most powerful and influential figures in England during the reign of King Henry VIII. It was built in the early 16th century and was intended to be a grand residence for the cardinal. The palace was later taken over by King Henry VIII, who made it his primary residence. The palace was expanded during his reign, and many famous historical events took place here.
One of the most famous events was the trial of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, who was tried and convicted of treason and adultery in the palace. The palace was also the site of many other important events, including the birth of King Edward VI and the death of King Henry VIII.
During the reign of King William III, the palace was extensively renovated, and many new features were added. The palace was later used as a royal residence by King George III and his family. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria opened the palace to the public, making it one of the first historic sites to be open to the public.
Architecture of Hampton Court Palace
The architecture of Hampton Court Palace is a stunning example of Tudor architecture. The palace is made up of several different buildings, including the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, the Clock Court, the Fountain Court, and the Palace Gardens.
The Great Hall is the most famous room in the palace and is known for its beautiful hammer beam ceiling. It is the largest surviving medieval hall in England and was used for banquets, receptions, and other important events. The hall is also famous for its tapestries, which depict scenes from the life of King Henry VIII.
The Chapel Royal is another impressive building in the palace, and it is known for its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate woodwork. The chapel was used for religious services by the royal family and is still used for special occasions.
The Clock Court is another impressive part of the palace and is known for its ornate clock tower. The clock tower is one of the most recognizable features of the palace and can be seen from miles away. The courtyard is also home to the astronomical clock, which was installed in the 16th century and is one of the oldest working clocks in the world.
The Palace Gardens are another highlight of Hampton Court Palace, and they are known for their well-manicured lawns, beautiful flower beds, and fountains. The gardens are made up of several different sections, including the Privy Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Great Vine.
Tourist Attractions of Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London and has several things to offer visitors. Some of the most popular attractions at the palace include:
- The Great Hall: One of the most impressive rooms at the palace, the Great Hall was originally built for Henry VIII and was the center of the court’s public life. Visitors can marvel at the ornate hammer-beam roof, the intricate carvings on the walls, and the impressive tapestries on display.
- The Tudor Kitchens: Step back in time and experience the hustle and bustle of the Tudor kitchens, where cooks prepared meals for the royal family and their guests. Visitors can see the massive cooking pots and roasting spits, as well as the impressive range of ingredients used in Tudor cooking.
- The Chapel Royal: The Chapel Royal is a beautiful and serene space that has been used for worship for over 450 years. Visitors can admire the intricate stained glass windows, the richly carved wooden altar screen, and the beautiful vaulted ceiling.
- The Gardens: The palace is surrounded by 60 acres of stunning gardens that have been restored to their former glory. Visitors can wander through the formal gardens, admire the fountains and water features, and take a stroll through the peaceful wilderness area. Don’t miss the famous Maze, which was planted in the late 17th century and is still a challenge for visitors to navigate today!
Which of your sites are open?
Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Kensington Palace are all open on various days and times. Please check the palace you wish to visit for opening times. Banqueting House remains closed. Opening times vary across palaces. Please see links below for opening times. Tower of London Hampton Court Palace Kensington Palace Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Kew Palace
Do I need to wear a face covering?
In line with government guidelines, we ask visitors to consider wearing a face covering in our indoor spaces, shops and crowded places unless exempt. We ask that visitors continue to maintain a respectful distance from staff and other visitors not in their group. Please continue to show courtesy and consideration for other people visiting the Palaces.
I can't download my e-tickets/My e-tickets are missing/I don't have a booking confirmation email
My e-tickets are missing We recommend searching your email inbox for hrp.org.uk. If you can't find your e-tickets, you can show your confirmation email/booking reference at the Ticket Office. I can't download my e-tickets We are sorry to hear that you have had issues downloading your tickets. If you are not able to download your e-tickets using the link in your confirmation email, please show your reference number which begins 42xxxxxxxxx to the ticket desk when you arrive and staff on site will be able to print your tickets for you. I don't have a booking confirmation email You can search your email for hrp.org.uk or you can quote your booking number or email address at the Ticket Office.
I can’t visit anymore - can I get a refund?
We operate a strict no refunds policy, however, we can amend your booking subject to availability. Please see below how we can do that. We will make an exception if the palace is closed unexpectedly.
Can I change the date or time of my booking?
We can amend unused admission tickets from the current ticketing year (March 2022- February 2023) bought directly with us for a booking amendment fee. This excludes any event tickets, such as the Ceremony of the Keys. You can visit between now and any other date we’re open until 28th February 2023 (subject to availability). When you have chosen your new date and are ready to amend your booking and pay the amendment fee, please call 0333 320 6000. Our phone lines are open Monday – Friday, 09:00-14:00. If you don’t make the change before your original visit date, please don’t worry as we will be able to see your tickets have not been used.
When will more tickets be available for future dates?
We will be releasing tickets for future dates periodically and you can keep up to date by signing up to our mailing list.
I need a carer ticket. Where to I go if I have accessibility related questions?
For questions related to carer tickets or accessibility, please click here for Hampton Court Palace, here for Hillsborough Castle & Gardens, here for Kensington Palace, or here for the Tower of London
I have a question about Superbloom at the Tower of London
For any queries relating to our Superbloom event in June 2022, including ticket enquiries, please visit our Superbloom FAQs page.
I have just purchased a new membership, and don’t yet have my membership number, how do I book my ticket?
You will need your membership number to book tickets, so if you're waiting for your new membership card to arrive and want to visit straightaway, please email [email protected] and we'll sort it out for you.
How do I book a member timeslot/ticket?
As a member, you need to pre-book a timeslot for your visit using the Member portal. This is to ensure the safety of both visitors and staff. 1. Log in to the Member portal 2. Choose the palace you'd like to book your tickets for and follow the ticket purchase process, selecting your free member tickets from the list of ticket types. If pre-booking tickets for members only, you will skip the payment process. We inform our members and customers about new ticket releases by email. If you aren’t receiving notifications and would like to, simply sign up for our e-newsletters on the website, or if you're a member it maybe we need to update your email address or contact preferences. You can drop us a line on [email protected] and we'll arrange this for you.
I’m unable to login with my membership number and surname, how do I book?
If you are unable to login with your membership number and surname, try a space after your surname. It is not case-specific. If you have recently purchased a membership and cannot login, your membership might not have been processed yet. Please email our team at [email protected] and we'll try to help.
I’d like to cancel or change my free member tickets
Thank you for letting us know. You can’t amend a booking, so just book new tickets for when you would like to visit and we will delete this booking.
How do I use my Blue Peter badge?
To use your Blue Peter badge, please bring the badge, card and proof of age to show our Admissions team on arrival. As children are only able to use a Blue Peter badge when accompanied by an adult, please book the paid tickets you require in advance, selecting the palace you’d like to visit and clicking the ‘Buy tickets’ option in the top right corner. Whilst we cannot pre-book these free spaces, we will admit Blue Peter badge holders on the same timeslot as your pre-booked ticket(s) and will not ask your party to split up.
Can I get discounted entry as member of the military?
We offer a 30% discount to holders of a valid MOD90 card, the Defence Discount card, or the MOD Certificate of Eligibility at our London palaces. How much are tickets? Tower of London - MOD Adult: £21.00 / MOD Child: £10.50 / MOD Family 1: £36.70 / MOD Family 2: £57.70 Kensington Palace – MOD Adult: £14.00 / MOD Child: £7.00 / MOD Family 1: £24.50 / MOD Family 2: £38.50 Hampton Court Palace - MOD Adult: £18.30 / MOD Child: £9.10 / MOD Family 1: £31.90 / MOD Family 2: £50.10 A MOD family ticket will allow entrance for 1 military personnel, 1 additional adult and up to 3 children. A MOD family 1 ticket with allow entrance for 1 military personnel and up to 3 children without the additional adult. Unless otherwise stated, these prices are valid from March 2022 and subject to our Terms & Conditions. What do I need to do next? Discounted tickets can only be bought at the palace on the day of your visit. Simply show your proof of eligibility at the ticket office and we will be happy to offer the reduced rate.
Do you offer an NHS / Blue Light Card holder discount?
No, we are an independent charity who rely on income from visitors to preserve the palaces in our care. Following the pandemic we are facing a £100 million shortfall in our finances. We are limited to what discounts we can offer and are not offering any reduced rate tickets for NHS staff / Blue Light Card holders.
How do I visit with a National Art Fund Pass (Kensington Palace only)/Museums Association Membership/Tower Hamlets offer?
It isn’t possible to pre-book these offers via our website but they can be redeemed onsite by bringing your card , pass or voucher with you to the Ticket Desk.
I work for a company that has a corporate membership, how can I visit for free?
You will have been issued with a special voucher from your employer that allows you to visit during opening hours without pre-booking. If you would like to visit with more guests than your voucher allows, you will need to book extra tickets on hrp.org.uk. We will endeavour to admit you on the next available time slot but as we are operating with a limited capacity please note that you might have to queue. We appreciate your patience if this should happen. If this doesn’t answer your question, please contact [email protected].
Will the car parks at Hampton Court Palace and Hillsborough Castle be open?
Yes, the car parks are open but cannot be pre-booked. Hampton Court Palace Limited parking is available on-site. £1.60 per hour. Pay for your parking by card or by using the Glide app. 9 disabled bays are available, free for blue badge holders. Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Free car parking is available with 27 disabled parking bays, free for blue badge holders.
Where can I purchase tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys?
Tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys are free of charge, but must be booked online. Most dates are sold out many months in advance, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are released on a rolling monthly basis.
How do I book a carer with my Ceremony of the Keys booking?
Once you have booked your tickets (for everyone in your party except the carer), reply to your booking confirmation email and to let us know that you require a carer ticket.
Can I cancel or change the date of my Ceremony of the Keys tickets?
Unfortunately, we cannot amend or cancel any tickets for this event and all bookings are non-exchangeable and non-refundable in line with our Terms & Conditions.
I have a corporate partner voucher, how do I pre-book tickets?
There is no pre-booking for corporate partners - partners should just present themselves, with their voucher and proof of ID as per the terms and conditions of the voucher, on the day they'd like to visit where they will be admitted at the next available time slot on the day (every half hour).
Will I be able to purchase anything in your shop?
Our retail shops are open. You can continue to make purchases from our online shop too.
What safety measures will be taken at your sites to ensure visitors and staff are protected?
We will continue to ensure that the safety of our visitors and staff is our priority. We have implemented a comprehensive plan to help our visitors and staff feel safe at the palaces. We will: Maintain a thorough cleaning regime, including high frequency touch points. Provide hand sanitiser dispensers as well as hand washing facilities for visitors across our sites.
Will your staff be wearing PPE?
Where appropriate – particularly where closer contact with members of the public is required – our staff will be issued with PPE, or may be working behind screens, for their protection and to protect our visitors.