A Childs Tour Of Hampton Court Palace
The rose red brick Tudor Palace, the baroque palace first occupied in 1700’s has some of the worlds greatest gardens surrounding it. Hampton Court Palace offers child friendly tours with handheld audio sets with images and easy to use interface. Parents and children can take a number of tours together (each with a device) that last from around 20-30 mins each. Children can really get into character by wearing the thick velvety green or purple Royal Palace capes, my son felt really special walking around with his cape and audio set, not to mention looking very sophisticated in the process of relaying the historical facts with great precision.
Discovering a Tour
Once inside the Palace grounds you will need to head over to the reception on the left of the entrance to collect your tickets and programme along with your Hampton Court Palace Map and Gardens Explorer Map, we brought our tickets online including the entrance to the maze, I saved around £5 compared to purchasing on the day, click here for their official site where you can find tickets.
Which tours are family friendly? There are three tours and you will see these highlighted on the map; Henry VIII’s Apartments, Henry VIII’s Kitchens and William III’s Apartments.
Henry VIII’s Apartments (Tour 1)
Walking in the footsteps of England’s most famous King, his apartments of the 1530’s, The tour kicks off in the Great Hall which was used each day by the lower ranking staff of Henry’s court, as many as 600 people ate here on a daily basis.
The Great Hall is by far the largest room in the entire Palace at a whopping 106ft long, 40ft wide and 60ft high! the hall was built during the 1530’s by a dedicated team of carpenters, bricklayers and masons. The Great Hall was used frequently for dance and drama with Henry taking the lead role. The magnificent Abraham tapestries line these huge walls which were commissioned by Henry himself.
The Horn Room, originally used as a waiting area for servants serving food to the Great Hall. The horns date back to the 17th Century!
Further into the Palace there are paintings on display of Henry’s family including his mother, father and son.
Henry the VIII the man himself
Henry VIII’s Mother.
Henry VIII’s Father
Henry VIII’s Son
In the Royal Pew you will be able to see the re-creation of Henry VIII’s crown of State, The crown was worn by the King in the Palace for Court ceremonies, one in particular was the feast of Epiphany, he would process to the Chapel Royal in full regalia. My son noted how brightly it was lit up, I couldn’t agree more!
Henry VIII’s Kitchens (Tour 2)
By far my favourite of the three tours on offer for kids at Hampton Court, I just love the way the kitchen route has been laid out to show how the raw food came in one end of the kitchen and out the other as food fit for a whole Royal Court. Below you will see some photos I took showing replica food and utensils based upon research by the Palace’s own food historians, they sure did a good job as you will soon see below!
First up, the slaughter house, my son was astounded, as was I in the amount of meat consumed within just ONE day, 12 cows, 28 sheep, countless pigs and chickens EEK! this room has brilliant audio of machete’s hitting wood, a little too real for my linking 😉
Look how life-like these imitation pies look! the knife was also very much 99% real!
It’s refreshing to see veg as part of the 17th Century Royal diet! these leeks were real by the way, they had real veg on display, I guess it makes sense.
The Royal Kitchen would offer a huge variety of foods, in Tudor times the more exotic and further away the food came was a sign of status and importance, they enjoyed Mediterranean olive oils, sugar form Iraq, citrus fruits and almonds, Chinese ginger, spices brought all the way over from India and Africa were not uncommon. Foreign visitors to the Palace would be served magnificent feasts with ingredients from all over the globe.
This is the huge Tudor roasting spit in its full glory. Usually a man would be hired to turn the spit to enable the meat to cook on all sides, it certainly wasn’t cheap to cook meat, you can also see the burnt wall where the heat would go up and out the chimney.
A plate fit for a King anyone? this is bar far the largest plate my eyes have ever seen. Just look at the size of it compared to my tiny hand. No wonder they ate so much meat and fresh produce, they served the Tudor Court a monstrous 1,200 meals per day, those poor cooks!
William III’s Apartments (Tour 3)
Another favourite in the tour mix is William III’s Apartments, this tour gives the most insight into the palace baroque rooms, They were designed for meeting the King with state ceremony. You start this tour by entering a hall with a staircase, just look how stunning the walls and ceilings are, just take in this artwork, I was in awe from the moment my eyes saw the beauty.
The Italian painter Antonio Verrio was commissioned to paint The Great Roman Hall as the setting for the story of a competition between Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.
The colour was stunning, the detail was incredible, Antonio Verrio was indeed a very talented painter.
Once up the King’s staircase you enter into the Guard Chamber, in here the Yeomen of the Guard kept a close watch to deter intruders.. or just regular men.
Here you will see the Guard Chamber when the King Henry VIII’s gunsmith, John Harris created the rooms architectural décor from 2,850 pieces of weaponry and armour, at first I really didn’t think this was real… This large and very important 17th-18th century collection would have served as a stark reminder of the very real threat of rebellion and war in the 1700’s.
Further along are many rooms all in a row, each room preceding the last is more magnificent, thrones, beds, paintings, mirrors, décor, my son was mesmerised upon entering each room, the audio was much needed to really grasp what each from meant during it’s use.
The Maze – What’s your best time?
The maze will no doubt be the highlight of any child’s visit to Hampton Court Palace, my son pleaded and went on endlessly about seeing the maze, so much for saving the best to last, we actually went in half way through our visit because I just couldn’t keep saying “no, later” or “at the end”. It was a great deal of fun thats for sure 🙂
I will now leave you with some lovely photos I took of the Royal Gardens, we sure didn’t explore it all so there will definitely be a follow up post with part 2!
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