One thing is for sure, Hampton Court Palace England truly is a magical place, one you could base any fairy-tale movie on. It has lavish State Apartments, a Great Hall, England’s biggest Tudor kitchen and spectacular gardens. As well as a fascinating history that involves Kings, Queens and even ghosts.
The Hampton Court Palace is located in the greater London area in Surrey and easily accessible by a 35 minute direct train. Whenever I have visitors, I always recommend it as a historical attraction to see while in the capital. Given the distance from London and what to see and do, Hampton Court Palace is a fantastic half a day out option.
I live just up the road from the palace and I love coming here and sitting in the Wilderness gardens. Especially during Spring and Autumn, when the flowers are blooming and the leaves are changing colour. Another place associated with Tudor History is the Tower of London
About Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is one of the 6 properties that make up the Historic Royal Palaces collection. It is a ‘Tudor Palace’ and one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned and acquired by Henry VIII. The other is St James’s Palace, however, it is not open to the public.
It offers numerous fun things to do, including royal feasts, a bike tour, flower shows, ghost tours and Tudor history talks. You can even have your wedding at the Palace. Hampton Court Palace is definitely worth a visit and it is a great day out from London for everyone.
1. Palace History
Hampton Court Palace has had a colourful past ever since the building began in 1514. It was a private residence for Cardinal Wolsey, later presented to Henry VIII to secure the King’s favour.
The palace went on to become one of Henry’s most favoured residences and he had it enlarged to accommodate his sizeable retinue of courtiers. At some point in their lives, every one of Henry six wives lived at Hampton Court Palace.
King George II was the last monarch to reside in the palace. Although it is no longer a royal residence, parts of it were occupied by individuals granted “grace and favour” apartments by the monarch. Like people who had been offered free accommodation in return for past services to the monarch. During Queen Victoria’s reign, the palace was opened to the public.
Take a private history tour around Hampton Court if you want to know more history about the Palace.
2. Map of Hampton Court Palace
Below is a map of Hampton Court Palace and its location with parking highlighted in black. If you zoom out on it, you will see where central London is and Kingston Upon Thames.
When you zoom in you find Hampton Court amenities, as well as to eat and drink nearby. You can also see the maze, the gardens and the palace.
How about doing a bike tour, once you arrive at Hampton Court?
3. Entering the Palace
As you step out of the station and walk the 5 minutes across the bridge to the entrance gates of the palace, one of the first things you will notice is how splendid and grand Hampton Court Palace looks.
Firstly, head inside the Palace to stroll around the rooms taking in all the history on the free audio guide. You can see the elegant baroque apartments and the best-preserved kitchen of Tudor England.
Then head outside to explore the Maze (one of the few surviving features of the old layout) or the unique interactive magic garden, before venturing around the glorious formal gardens of William II and Mary ll.
You can see why it is easy to spend a whole day here.
4. Henry VIII’s Apartments and the Great Hall
Start your tour of Hampton Court Palace by visiting Henry’s VIII’s lavish apartments and Great Hall. Once you have gone through the Palace entrance, head across the base court to the Buttery. Here a 10 minute introductory video will play before you start your tour.
Afterwards, you will head into the Great Hall, Great Watching Chamber and the Council Chamber. Before passing through the processional route, this is allegedly haunted by Queen Catherine Howard.
This is also where you can take a 35 minute tour with a tour guide in period costume.
Be Henry VIII at the dinner table in The Great Hall
One of the most impressive and largest rooms in the Palace is The Great Hall. During Tudor times, this was the most important room in the palace. It would be here that Henry VIII would dine upon his raised dais (Raised platform often for the dignified).
With a carved hammer-beam roof and magnificent tapestries that hang on the walls that tell the story of Abraham, I can see why this room is so grand. The hall took five years to complete.
- When you enter the room there is a bench against the wall. It is a great spot to sit for a few minutes and take in the whole room
5. Take in the Smells in Henry VIII’s Kitchens
You cannot go all the way to the Palace without visiting the largest Tudor Kitchen in England. To put in perspective how big this kitchen area is, when Henry VIII was alive the kitchen would produce over 800 meals a day for the household. This was prepared by over 200 cooks, sergeants, grooms and page workers.
Check the program before you leave because sometimes the kitchen does daily demonstrations. I think is great because it allows you to experience the sights and smells of what it used to be like during the Henry VIII era. You will really feel like you have stepped back in time wandering through the labyrinth of kitchen spaces.
6. The Chapel Royal
Once you have finished visiting the Tudor kitchens and great hall, walk up to the Chapel Royal. There are two sections to the Chapel, the Royal Pew and the Chapel proper. During the Tudor times, the monarch and his companions would sit in the Royal Pew for service.
The Chapel Royal has been in continuous use for over 450 years and you can still attend a service. Here is the information, if you like to attend a service.
Make sure to look up and take in the stunning vaulted ceiling in gold and blue.
7. Cumberland Art Gallery
The Cumberland Art Gallery was formerly an apartment belonging to the Duke of Cumberland. The gallery houses a changing display of artworks and masterpieces from the Royal Collection that were collected during the centuries by monarchs of the Palace.
Some of these pieces are Rembrandt’s self-portraits; a Grand Canal scene by Canaletto; and paintings by Holbein, van Dyck and Gainsborough. You can check out more of the Royal Collection on their site
Photography is not permitted in the Cumberland Art Gallery due to conservation purposes
8. William III’s State Apartments at Hampton Court
Step back in time and walk through the elegant rooms of William III’s State Apartments. Where beautifully dress courtiers use to mingle and gossip with Royals. It is also the best spot to view the spectacular Privy gardens from the palace windows.
Some of the main rooms on the first floor are the king’s guard chamber, the Privy Chamber and the great Bedchamber. The opulent Great Bedchamber wasn’t where the king actually slept but was where he dressed in the presence of his courtiers.
Downstairs on the ground floor was Williams III’s Private Apartments rooms, which were more liveable and basic rooms that the King used for daily life. Some of these rooms were the King’s private drawing room and private dining room. The King also displayed his personal collections of favourite art here.
9. Hampton Court Palace Gardens
The Hampton Court Gardens consists of whopping 60 acres of beautiful formal gardens. As well as 750 acres (304 hectares) of parkland, all set within a loop of the River Thames. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the sections of the gardens.
These gardens include the Privy Garden, the Pond Gardens, the Knot Garden and the great fountain garden. As well as the Lower Orangery, which contains a collection of exotics from June to September. Another point of interest is the Great Vine, the largest grapevine in the world at more than 200 years old.
Something for the children in the Palace Gardens
For the Children, you have the magic garden, a unique, interactive playground. It includes aerial walkways to the fire-breathing dragon or go exploring in the world’s oldest hedge maze.
⇒ Hever Castle is another great historical day out form London with great gardens for children?
Gardens free to walk around
Some parts of Hampton Court gardens are free to walk around and enjoy especially in spring and summer. These areas include the kitchen gardens, the rose garden and the tiltyard. You can also walk around or have a picnic in the Wilderness area but you can’t go in the maze without a ticket.
Opened daily from 09:00-10:00 are Palace’s East Front Gardens which are free.
10. Explore the famous Wilderness maze
One of the things you can’t miss at Hampton Court Palace is the famous maze. This is located in the wildness gardens of the palace and is the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze. It was commissioned by William III in the 1700s for the courtiers to be able to enjoy getting lost along the paths in hedges.
Today, it is famous for its flowering bulbs that look beautiful during the spring period.
You can venture into the maze and see how quickly you can get into the middle and back out again. Even though the maze is in the wilderness gardens, you have to have a valid ticket for the palace.
Heaver Castle has two outdoor mazes, the water maze and the yew maze that you should check out.
11. The Kitchen Gardens
If you are a lover of gardening and fresh herbs and vegetables then you cannot go pass Kitchen Gardens. It is located in between the magic garden and the onsite parking.
For over 150 years the garden has grown all sorts of fresh produce for the Hampton Court kitchens. The gardens have been reconstructed to show the types of produce that would have been grown in the 18th century.
The best bit is that you can visit this part of the gardens for free. Public toilets and sitting are also available in this section.
12. The Little Banqueting House
The charming Banqueting House overlooks the River Thames and nestled near the pond gardens. It is where William III would enjoy small, gatherings. Today the public can hire it for weddings, intimate receptions and dinners for up to 50 guests.
Banqueting House interior includes spectacular 18th-century paintings and murals by Antonio Verrio. He created many wall and ceilings paintings inside the Palace for William III. What a great backdrop for your wedding.
Yes, you can have your wedding at Hampton Court Palace. Here is the list of venues at the palace.
13. Ghosts of Henry VIII’s wives
Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? It is said that Hampton Court Palace is haunted by numerous ghosts. Two of which were Henry VIII’s wives Queen Katherine Howard, Queen Jane Seymour.
Jane Seymour ghost supposedly wanders downstairs and into the courtyard looking for her son. Katherine Howard ghost roams around the gallery inside the palace. Visitors and staff have even said they have heard her screaming and felt her presence.
Do you know that one of Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn lived at Hever Castle?
Take one of the adult ghost tours
Wanting to see for yourself who haunts Hampton Court Palace? Then you can do one of the adult ghost tours held in the evening. You will hear stories of paranormal activity and ghostly apparitions at the palace.
14. Tickets for Palace and Gardens
Tickets for Hampton Court Palace are currently time allocated. This is due to the situation with Covid-19 and social distancing rules. This is so they can limit the numbers of visitors to keep everyone safe. Tickets have to be pre-booked online in advance and can be delivered two ways. Either by PDF to your mobile phone or via email.
Individual, family tickets and concessions are available, as well as group tickets. If you are a Historic Royal Palace member, your ticket will be for free but you will still need to book.
A great incentive to book your tickets online before you go is it’s cheaper.
Two Types of Entry
You can get a ticket for visiting both the Palace and gardens or a ticket for just the gardens. Some parts of the Hampton Court Palace gardens are free to walk around, like the entrance gardens. It is also a spot I like to sit when it is sunny and want to read about English History.
Prices and tickets for Hampton Court Palace are available for booking online on their site here.
Additional ticket information for the Palace
- Opening Time – from 9 am to 6:00 pm daily (10 am to 5:30 pm on Sundays and Mondays)
- The last entry – is 5:00 pm or an hour before closing
- Closed – 24th-26th Dec and 1 Jan
15. Getting to Hampton Court Palace
Getting to Hampton Court Palace is relatively easy and straight forward, due to it being a popular attraction in England. It is situated in the county of Surrey only 12 miles just outside of London, along the river Thames.
If you are travelling from central London it is only a 35minutes journey via train making it an ideal location for a day out. There are various ways of getting there from Trains, buses, car to even catching a boat.
⇒ Looking for another palace in London? How about Kensington Palace
Catching the train
There are direct trains from Waterloo station to Hampton Court Palace which run every half an hour. The train journey should roughly take 35mins. From the station, it is only a 5mins walk over the bridge and to the palace entrance.
⇒ Travelling by train to other parts of England, Wales or Scotland? How about the Interrail Great Britain Pass, a convenient way of taking a train journey?
- Sometimes the trains will offer discounts for visiting attractions outside of London. When you are buying your ticket just ask to see if they do the discount.
As the palace is along the Thames, you are able to take a public boat during the summer season. These boats run regularly and leave from Westminster, Kew, and Richmond Kingston-upon-Thames.
Another historical site you can get to by boat is the Tower of London
16. Driving from London to Hampton Court
London to Hampton Court Palace is roughly just over an hour’s drive in good traffic. The palace is on the A308 and all roads leading there are highways and well signposted.
Address: Hampton Ct Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU
⇒ How about A Day out at Hever Castle England? Just over an hours drive from London.
Parking at the Hampton Court Palace
Parking for Hampton Court Palace is available in two spots. There is parking next to the train station, which is a 5-minute walk away. The other car park is located onsite just inside the palace walls near the ticket office.
The onsite car park is limited and a small hourly fee will apply. The charge is £1.60 per hour and you can only use a card to pay at the machines.
Disable parking is available at the onsite parking near the ticket office.
When an event or festival is being held at the palace additional parking is made available. It is located directly across the road and 2 minutes walk from the Palace.
There are cycling racks available at the onsite car park near the entrance. If you are wanting to ride your bike along the Thames to the Palace.
Hire a car
Alternatively, if you don’t own a car, you can hire one for a day from London. There are numerous companies in and around London. Zipcar is also an option if you are a member.
17. Festivals and Events at Hampton Court
Hampton Court Palace offers various activities for both children and adults all year round through events and festivals. There is everything from concerts and films in the summer to food festivals and flower shows.
If you have a Historic Royal Palaces membership card, some of the events and festivals are free. Like the Food Festival, which is the one that I attended and enjoyed.
What’s on at Hampton Court Palace
You can check what’s on at Hampton court palace today here. Where you can see up-and-coming activities and programmes. You can also purchase your ticket online at the same time, allowing you more time to explore.
Hampton Court Palace flower show
One of the most popular events at Hampton Court Palace is Hampton Court Garden Festival formerly known as the Hampton Court flower show. It is the largest flower show held in the world annually in early July.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), organised this spectacular flower show.
Events & Festival Parking for Hampton Court
Additional parking for Hampton Court Palace is made available when events and festivals are held. It is allocated directly across the road in a park. There is a small flat fee for parking.
⇒ Here are some good suggestions for day backpacks for all your yummy purchases, at the festivals. All are reasonably priced and light to carry.
18. Top Tips and Additional Information
- Get a Royal Pass for your trip to England if you want to also see Tower of London
- Stay connected with 4G SIM Card while visiting the United Kingdom to keep update with maps and things to do.
- Don’t forget to book your entrance ticket online and miss the ticket queue
- Obtain an audio guide which is a part of your ticket price and stroll around at your own pace. It has a lot of great interesting facts about history.
- Bike Tour; How about doing a bike tour, when you arrive at Hampton station.
- If you have the time and you like walking and hiking, catch a train to Kingston-upon-Thames and walk along the Thames to Hampton Court Palace. This is about 1.7miles and should take you roughly around 30-40 mins.
- The Mute Swan across the road is pretty good for food or a drink afterwards, if you are looking for a pub.
- Multimedia Guides – You can get one at the ticket office.
- You can have your wedding at Hampton Court Palace in the Banqueting House
19. Get a Historic Royal Palaces Membership
If you are planning on visiting one of the other properties like Tower Bridge London or even Kensington Palace. It might work out cheaper for you to obtain a Historic Royal Palace membership. As paying individually for each palace, will cost a lot more.
Hampton Court Palace is not part of the English Heritage or National Trust. Instead, it is part of the Historic Royal Palaces membership. Which makes up one of 6 properties that is part of the Historic Royal Palaces collection. It is an independent charity that manages some of the unoccupied royal palaces in Great Britain.
I had a Historic Royal Palaces card and I have visited all of the properties, some of them more than once. It is definitely worth it if you are planning to visit more than one of the properties.
20. Organised Tours to Hampton Court
If you want a hassle-free trip to Hampton Court Palace, then take an organised tour from London. As it is one of England’s top tourist attractions there are lots of tours to choose from. Here are just a few guided tours to consider for Hampton Court:
- Kid-Friendly Guided Tour from London to the Palace
- Private Tour with a Historian Guide from Hampton Court Station
- Group tour from London for the Glorious Gardens Plus Palace
21. Hampton Court Palace or Windsor Palace
Can’t decide whether you want to visit either Hampton Court Palace or Windsor Palace? Then you will be glad to know you don’t have to choose. As there are tour companies that go to both in a day.
- 8hr Group tour to Hampton Court & Windsor
- Private Tour from London to Windsor Castle & Hampton Court Palace
- 9hr Guided tour from London to Windsor and Hampton Court
22. Is Hampton Court Palace worth a visit?
There is a saying “You are never too old to learn” and I could not agree more. I think Hampton Court Palace has done a great job in making learning interesting and fun all year round.
It offers numerous things to do for everyone, including Tudor history talks, royal feasts, a festival, flower shows and ghost tours. Children can also enjoy the magic garden and maze. You can even have your wedding at the Palace.
Given the distance from London and what to see and do there. Hampton Court Palace is definitely worth a visit and is a great option for a half day out for everyone.
⇒ How about doing a Historic Pub, Food & Beer Tour – Old Docks along the Thames in London?
Have you been to Hampton Court Palace England before? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below, I would love to hear about them.
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Thank you for reading this article on Hampton Court Palace England. I hope it helped you to decide what to to do while visiting.
⇒ Looking to discover other parts of England, please feel free to head to my United Kingdom Page
Disclaimer: I paid to go to Hampton Court Palace, England. All views are my own and based on my own experience.