Entry tickets for the Festival also included entry into Hampton Court Palace and gardens, so visitors could make a day of it and enjoy everything this wonderful palace has to offer.
The original Tudor palace was designed by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, but it soon attracted the attention of Henry VIII, who brought all his six wives here. Surrounded by gorgeous gardens and famous features such as the Maze and the Great Vine, the palace has been the setting for many nationally significant events.
When William III and Mary II (1689-1702) took the throne in 1689, they commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to build an elegant new baroque palace which incorporates the perfectly kept 1702 baroque Privy Garden. Later, Georgian kings and princes occupied the splendid interiors. When the royals left in 1737, impoverished ‘grace and favour’ aristocrats moved in.
Queen Victoria opened the palace to the public in 1838. It has remained a magnet for millions of visitors, drawn to the grandeur, the ghosts and the fabulous art collection including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and van Dyck in the Cumberland Art Gallery.
New this year is the Gold and Glory: Henry VIII and the French King Exhibition where stunning works of art, gold, weapons, manuscripts and clothing are reunited from the Field of Cloth of Gold – the legendary encounter between Henry VIII and his great rival Francois I of France.
There’s plenty to see and do in the gardens too. Go in search of the wildflowers, bluebells, tulips and daffodils in the spring, and see the herbaceous borders and the Rose Garden come alive with the sights and smells of summer. You can take a shire horse and charabanc ride around the gardens and learn all about these famous animals that reside in Home Park, or take the kids to the Magic Garden where you can enjoy a well-earned coffee while they let off some steam storming the battlements in search of the mythical fire-breathing dragon. The Kitchen Garden is a must-see too which used to feed the Georgian royals and now supplies the famous Henry VIII’s kitchens.
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