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Published: December 2nd 2007
Divorced, beheaded, survived. That's how the English remember the fates of the 6 wives of Henry VIII. Catchy, isn't it?
The TV show, The Tudors, has sparked my interest in the life of Henry VIII. With that in mind, I decided to pay a visit to Hampton Court Palace, which was his home.
It was actually Cardinal Wolsey, the Archibishop of York to Henry VIII, that built Hampton Court in 1514. It was originally his riverside country house. When Wolsey started to fall out of favor with the King, he offered this Palace as a gift. Naturally, Henry accepted it. Other royals have lived in the Palace since Henry VIII's time, but the Palace has entertained the public since the 1830s.
I started off with the exhibition on the young King Henry VIII, when he was married to Katherine of Aragon (his 1st wife). After that, I toured both the King and Queen's Apartment. (Again, let me just reiterate my love for the audio guide.) They Palace also offers tours by costumed tour guides. I happened to see one starting just before I entered the Apartments, so I decided to follow along. They were dressed in period costumes
and it was fun to follow them through the hallways as they acted out the day that Henry's only surviving son, Edward, was born to Jane Seymour (his 3rd wife). There was also a hallway that they refer to as the "Haunted Gallery". They claim that Catherine Howard (his 4th wife) haunts that hall with screams. Well after that, I was spooked and kept thinking I was hearing things.
The court of Henry VIII consisted of something like 600+ people. Can you imagine how much food had to be prepared? I get hungry just thinking about it so I thought I'd check out the Tudor Kitchens. They say that most people working in the kitchens never saw the main rooms of the Palace, and the courtiers never saw the Kitchens. There was never any need for people to go from one place to another once their position in the Palace was decided. The most interesting bit of the Tudor Kitchens were the "Experimental Historians". Basically, these are people that actually use the methods and tools of the period to see how things worked and if they really worked. There were a few people cooking in the kitchens, as you
This is the view from the Clock Court
can see in the pictures. And they were all using the same methods, pottery, ingredients that they would've used during Henry VIII's time. There was a guy making pottery for them to eventually cook on. There was a room of pewter utensils and serving platters that was all hand done quite recently to recreate the look of the original wares. All really interesting.
By this time the wind had really kicked up, so I thought I better make my way to the gardens before it got too cold. The gardens take up over 60 acres of the grounds, but so I wanted to see as much of them as I could. Unfortunately...it was really, REALLY cold when I got out there, so I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked. So cold that I was still shivering through most of my 35 minute train ride back to London. But I digress....I was able my way through the maze and stroll through the Fountain Garden. I wish it had been warmer, but what can I expect during December in England, right?
All in all, a really good day. A little history, a little tour and
The exterior view from Clock Court
a little rhyme...let's say it together "Divorced, beheaded, died...Divorced, beheaded, survived..."
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