My friend H and I made plans to check out Hampton Court Palace for the BBC Good Food Festival a few weeks prior to the weekend of it occuring, we were meant to go with a friend of hers but she sadly could not make it in the end. Tickets were easy to book online, H did them the morning that we attended and she found out that it was slightly cheaper to purchase a ticket to see the Palace rather than the BBC Good Food Festival as both gave you entry to the Palace as well as the gardens where the show was being held. If you want to read my review of the BBC Good Food Festival you can do so in this blog post here.
We began the day by exploring a few sections of the Palace before checking out the Food Show so that we’d build up a bit of an appetite. We began firstly in the kitchen section of the palace. This section of the Palace is great to visit if you are there with children as there are many opportunities for hands on activities for children such as rotating the spit, crushing herbs and making a pesto. In this section of the palace we had the chance to see some of the rooms in which they cooked and prepared meals for the Kings, their family, the court and visitors. There were also storage rooms for the different items such as the wine room that we could walk through or peer into.
At the end of the kitchen section we ended up in the room where you could rent an audio guide and found a collection of coats and jackets that we could try on and wear around the palace for free. Of course this meant that we had to try all the different styles and colours on and pose for photos before we could move on to the next section of the palace. We saw many parents, children and adults walking around the palace wearing these so it is quite acceptable to do so even if you do not have any children in your group.
The second section of the Palace we went into was the rooms that chronicle the life of Henry VIII and his relationships. This section was set out in a more traditional museum manner, but it was interesting to learn a little more about his history and some of the undercurrents that were occurring during the different marriages that he had. There was also some stunning architecture from this part of the palace to check out while wandering through the exhibit – my favourite part was usually the ceiling of the different rooms.
After exploring these two sections in the first courtyard we then headed over to the BBC Good Food Festival, which was being held in the garden part of the palace, for a spot of lunch before we would continue our wandering. You can read about the BBC Good Food Festival in this blog here.
After our lunch at the BBC Good Food Festival we then wandered over to the maze to relive a favourite pastime of H from her childhood. The maze was quite fun but we sadly had the advantage of height and wisdom over H in her childhood and completed the maze rather quickly and quite easily. It was still quite fun to explore a royal maze, and the children inside the maze were having a great time.
After our time in the garden we went back into the Palace to explore another wing and section. We ended up choosing Henry’s apartments to go through as I was beginning to get tired from my late arrival from Poland. This section of the palace contained some of the rooms that Henry VIII used most frequently. These rooms included the dining hall, another hall where they would play games and his private corridors and chapel. We were unable to see his bedchambers, as those are only available for viewing during a short window on Wednesday’s.
There was plenty more of the castle to explore however due to us getting close to the closing time of the palace and me being exhausted from little sleep the night before called it quits after seeing Henry’s chambers. The palace seems like a great way to spend a full day and well worth a visit if you are in London and have the time.
Nearest station: Hampton Court (National Rail) or Kingston (National Rail) 20-40 minute walk or 111/216 bus for 13 minutes.
Cost: £16.50 (on-line purchase price).