Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Fodor's Weekly: Your expert travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration (coming soon)

London Sights

Hampton Court Palace

Updated 02/27/2014

Fodor's Review

The beloved seat of Henry VIII's court, sprawled elegantly beside the languid waters of the Thames, Hampton Court is steeped in more history than virtually any other royal building in England. The magnificent Tudor red-brick mansion, begun in 1514 by Cardinal Wolsey to curry favor with the young Henry, actually conceals a larger 17th-century baroque building, which was partly designed by Christopher Wren (of St. Paul's fame); though both have a wealth of stories to tell. The earliest dwellings on this site belonged to a religious order founded in the 11th century and were expanded over the years by its many subsequent residents, until George II moved the royal household closer to London in the early 18th century.

Highlights

Wander through the State Apartments, decorated in the Tudor style, complete with priceless paintings, and on to the wood-beamed magnificence of Henry's Great Hall, before taking in the strikingly azure ceiling of the Chapel Royal. Well-handled reconstructions of Tudor life take place all year, from live appearances by 'Henry VIII' and his elaborately-costumed court, to a small retinue of cook-historians preparing authentic Tudor feasts in the 15th-century Henry's Kitchens. (You can try some of the recipes in the adjacent cafe).

Feel a chill in the air? Watch out for the ghost of Henry VIII's doomed fifth wife, Catherine Howard, who literally lost her head yet is said to scream her way along the Haunted Gallery. Weirdly, the ambient temperature really is prone to drop noticeably and nobody knows why. Latter-day masters of the palace, the joint rulers William and Mary (reigned 1689–1702), were responsible for the beautiful King's and Queen's Apartments and the elaborate baroque of the Georgian Rooms.

Don't miss the famous maze (the oldest hedge maze in the world), its half mile of pathways among clipped hedgerows still fiendish to negotiate. There's a trick, but we won't give it away here: It's much more fun just to go and lose yourself.

The Lower Orangery Exotic Garden shows off thousands of exotic species that William and Mary, avid plant collectors, gathered from around the globe.

In summer months, consider arriving in style by riverboat

Tips

Family tickets offer huge savings, with £46 covering two adults and up to three children.

Choose which parts of the palace to explore based on a number of self-guided audio walking tours. Come Christmas time, there's ice-skating on a rink before the West Front of the palace.

Are you brave enough to explore the Haunted Gallery by candlelight? Evening ghost tours (£28 per person) are held throughout the year. Not only are they entertainingly spooky, but they're a great opportunity way to see the older parts of the palace without the crowds. An edited version, suitable for kids, runs in the early evening on certain dates. Tours can sell out weeks in advance, so prebooking is essential.

Read More

Sight Information

Address:

Hampton Court Rd., East Molesley, Surrey, KT8 9AU, England

Map It

Phone:

0844-482–7799-tickets; 0844-482–7777-information (24 hr.)

Sight Details:

  • Palace, maze, and gardens £18.20; maze only £4.40; gardens only £6.
  • Apr.–late Oct., daily 10–6; late Oct.–Mar., daily 10–4:30; last admission one hr before closing; last entry to maze 45 mins before closing). Formal Gardens 10–6 summer, 10–5:30 winter. Informal Gardens 7–8 summer, 7–6 winter.

Updated 02/27/2014

Advertisement

Map View

Map of



What's Nearby

  • Restaurants
  • Sights

See all sights in London

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Nov 2, 2009

Hampton Court Palace Review

Visiting Hampton Court was a highlight of our family trip to London. We went on a beautiful day and the gardens were in bloom. They have different tours available on the audio guides such as adults or family. We enjoyed the family tours with 2 boys, 11 and 4. The costumed guides were great and soaking in all that history was wonderful. The kids loved the maze although it was a bit easy in my estimation. The cafe on site was nice for lunch and

there is a large outdoor eating area. One of the best memories of our visit.

Read More

By Kim

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jun 26, 2005

Great way to step back in time

A must-see part of your trip to London. You get to experience the feel of life in the castle more than in other royal palaces. You can take the tour at your own pace and there are all sorts of activities to keep you busy while you're there. While we were there, there were games on the lawn in the courtyard for children. Much more interactive and memorable overall than Windsor.

By Mary

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Nov 26, 2002

A great day trip from London

I have been here twice and would go again. There is so much history packed in this place - and it is displayed and narrated well. Get the audio guides - they are good. Leave plenty of time to wander the grounds. A great day trip from London.

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?

Experience

Ease

Value

Don't Miss

Advertisement