Hampton Court Palace

County: Surrey

A palace of two halves: The Tudor and the Baroque

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Poor old Cardinal Wolsey. He works his way up the social ladder until he is able to buy himself a small house in the countryside and develop it into the grandest house going (See? I said Surrey was full of stressed commuters and expensive housing. Nothing changes!) and then falls out with his boss. Trouble is, his boss is King Henry VIII, and what Henry wants, Henry gets. Henry owned a lot of palaces, but today, Hampton Court is one of only two palaces remaining (the other being St James' Palace).  The Baroque part of the palace is a result of King William and Queen Mary's desire to modernise the palace in the 1680s, with Sir Christopher Wren as chief architect. It is said they were going to tear down much of the Tudor palace, but fortunately for us, ran out of money, so the plans had to be redrawn.

Queen Victoria opened up the palace to paying visitors - quite a scandal at the time, letting just anyone in! And the public have enjoyed experiencing all that the palace has to offer ever since. Even in 1838, the maze was one of the most popular features, although I'm happy to note that no-one has been permanently lost in there. The gardens are extensive and quite delightful in Spring and Summer especially, and many visitors can be seen enjoying a picnic by the side of the River Thames. But you don't need to bring your own food, as there are at least two cafés on site.

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This is most commonly paired with Windsor Castle, but I have also taken people to Stonehenge as well as Hampton Court Palace. It might also fit in with my Surrey tour.