What is Hampton Court Palace?
Hampton Court Palace is a huge building in south west London that has stood since the 1500’s.
It’s an amazing place that’s famous for a lot of things, one being that it was the home of England’s most famous king, Henry VIII.
Henry VIII and his part in the history of Hampton Court Palace are momentous stories in the history of Britain. For many people today, Hampton Court Palace is Henry VIII. It is indeed Henry’s royal standard that flies over the gatehouse. But it wasn’t always so… Early on in Henry VIII’s reign, Thomas Wolsey, one of the chaplains in Henry’s court, first acquired a relatively small manor house here in 1514, and constructed a magnificent palace around it.
When Henry VIII wanted a divorce from one of his wives – he had six – Wolsey as his papal legate and chief minister was in a fantastic position to pull it off… or fail. And when the Pope refused to grant a divorce, Wolsey was helpless – his titles and properties were confiscated, including Hampton Court Palace.
When Wolsey fell from power and influence, Henry acquired Hampton Court, and began his own building programme. Hampton Court now truly became Henry VIII’s favourite palace. He spent more time here than at any other of his residences during the second half of his reign, building new apartments for himself and his new wives. And the palace survived to witness many of the most important events in the chequered political and matrimonial history of the 1530s and 1540s.
Henry VIII’s most famous residence, Hampton Court Palace was devoted to pleasure, celebration and ostentatious display. When Henry finished his building programme in around 1540, Hampton Court was the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent palace in England. At some point during Henry VIII’s reign, all six of Henry’s wives visited Hampton Court and most had new and lavish lodgings. The King rebuilt his own rooms at least half a dozen times.
Henry’s last great building project at the palace, the Chapel Royal was begun in 1535. The most important change was the addition of the fantastical ceiling, which still survives. The ceiling’s components were carved at Sonning, several miles further up the River Thames, before being transported to Hampton Court and reassembled there.
In this series, we’ll find out all about the secrets this building holds and learn a lot along the way!
How do I listen to The Secrets of Hampton Court Palace?
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