Hampton Court Palace
- Cultural & historical sites
What you'll do
Hampton Court Palace is the former home of the flamboyant King Henry VIII, he extended and developed this grand palace after acquiring it in the 1520's.
Enjoy access to Hampton Court Palace with The London Pass®
- Pay nothing at the door – simply show your pass.
- Explore the home of one of the most flamboyant kings in British history.
- The pass grants you access to current exhibitions. Multi-lingual audio guides are also available.
- 10% discount at the on-site catering outlets when you show your pass.
From his public dramas to his private life, King Henry VIII is one of the most compelling kings in history. Explore Hampton Court Palace - the former home of this remarkable royal.
Hampton Court Palace London Pass Perk
Passholders benefit from a 10% discount in all gift shops at Hampton Court Palace and at the on-site catering outlets (restrictions apply).
Henry VIII extended and developed this grand palace after acquiring it in the 1520s. Its many royal occupants have furnished the palace with decadent tapestries and paintings throughout the centuries. Set in 60 acres of formal gardens, including the famous maze and Great Vine, this palace is well worth a visit.
Hampton Court Palace history
It was Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, who began Hampton Court Palace’s transformation from an ordinary country house to a magnificent palace in 1514, on the north bank of the River Thames. The location of the Palace was significant in allowing fresh water to flow throughout the building - a rarity at the time. Wolsey’s ambitions to create a grand building where he could host the King, the royal court, and monarchs from across Europe was a resounding success, as Henry VIII loved the Palace so much, he eventually took Hampton Court for himself.
The King used the Palace as a symbol of his status, demonstrating his power through lavish banquets, decadent court life, and extravagant works of art. By the 1530s, the Palace was also a hotel, a theatre, and a sprawling leisure complex. And the 17th century saw the Palace as a venue of firsts. Hamlet and Macbeth were first performed at Hampton Court Palace by Shakespeare’s ‘King’s Men’ for the new Stuart king, James I. Read more about the history of the Palace here.
Hampton Court Palace highlights
- See the Great Vine vineyard that was planted in 1769, the largest grapevine in the world.
- Discover the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze.
- Visit the Kitchens, which were the largest of Tudor England.
- Hampton Court Gardens span over 60 acres of lush greenery, parkland and plantations.
- Henry VIII’s crown sits on display in the Royal Pew as a model of the original.
Hampton Court Palace facts
- Hampton Court Palace is believed to be haunted by a screaming lady thought to be Catherine Howard, and the grey ghost Dame Sybil Penn is believed to roam the Clock Courts.
- The truth behind Charles I’s mysterious disappearance in the summer of 1647 is still disputed. He fled the luxurious Hampton Court prison, leaving on a boat to the Isle of Wight.
- Hampton Court Gardens displays over 200,000 flowering bulbs on display throughout spring.
- The Great Hall, England’s last and greatest Medieval hall, saw the performance of Shakespeare’s company the ‘King’s Men’ in 1603.
- Three of the walls that surround the tennis court date back to the 17th century, one of them being Cardinal Wolsey’s original.
Don't Miss the Following Hampton Court Palace Features
The Great Vine
Planted in 1769, the vineyard is a longstanding feature of Hampton Court Palace. Its original name is ‘Schiava Grossa’ which means Black Hamburg. The vine is still cultivated through the Victorian extension method, which involves a glasshouse. The grapes are usually ripe after the August Bank Holiday and are sold during the first three weeks of December – in the past, the grapes were sent to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.
A replica of the crown that was made for Henry VIII, and worn at the coronations of each of his children, sits in the Royal Pew on display for visitors. It stands as a symbol of power, monarchy, and religious authority. The original was melted down at the Tower of London by decree of Oliver Cromwell in 1649. The replica was built from the detailed descriptions of Henry VIII’s servants who itemised the size and position of each 344 rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls that embellish the crown.
The Chapel Royal delivers traditional services throughout the year and is a masterpiece of religious architecture with a rich colourful design in Tudor style. Kings and queens sit in the private pew which looks down the main body of the chapel and it was even here, in 1540, where Archbishop Cranmer handed Henry VIII the letter accusing Catherine Howard of her adulterous behaviour.
Hampton Court Gardens
Hampton Court Gardens are a horticultural feat to be admired. The park covers 750 acres and the formal gardens cover 60 acres. Within the Court Gardens lies the Great Vine, The Privy Garden – a recreation of the 1702 garden for William III, Tiltyard Walls, Home Park – 700 acres of deer park with ponds and wild bird. Not to mention the Palace Maze from 1690, made up of half a mile of winding passages between 7ft high yew trees.
A testament to Tudor dining, Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court are the largest kitchens of their era. Built between 1530 and 1737, the kitchens served up to 600 people twice a day, as well as the royal banquets. Working in the kitchens was hot and dirty – a Spanish visitor in 1554 even called it a ‘veritable hell’. The cooks would often lie by the fire in very little clothes and would drink on the job, having access to all the beer supply.
Where is Hampton Court Palace?
Hampton Court Palace is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, a quick train ride from central London. You're not just going to a place; you're going to a landmark that has shaped British history. It's incredibly accessible, making your decision to visit a no-brainer.
Who lives at Hampton Court Palace?
No members of the royal family currently reside in Hampton Court Palace. However, the palace, owned by the Crown, is far from empty. It's a living museum echoing with the tales and intrigues of past monarchs like Henry VIII. The fact that no one lives there now should not deter you; the place itself is alive with history, demanding your visit to experience it.
Please note: the Tennis Court in the gardens is only open to visitors during the summer months.
Know before you go
Getting in: Simply show your pass upon arrival.
Pass customers do not need to book in advance to visit Hampton Court Palace. Please be aware that at busy times, you may be asked to wait for the next available time slot.
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