Saturday, May 15, 2010

London: Day 3

Our third and final day in the wonderful city of London. We tried to get out of the door early, but alas I again didn't fall asleep until around 2 am and was slow to get started. Due to a train derailment on the busiest line in London, the subway was PACKED at rush hour. Nothing like having someone you hardly know brushed right up against you. Ugh. 

We finally made it to Waterloo station to board our train to Hampton Court Palace (and yes Jud, Steve, and Jerry you were correct, but you sorta cheated!) It was a slow 30 minute ride south of London to the town of Surrey.

Hampton Court Palace is a small world containing centuries of history for England. What we know of Hampton Court starts in 1514 when Cardinal Thomas Wolsey acquired the house following his rise to power in the Catholic Church and quickly turned the simple manor house into a palace used to entertain King Henry VIII. By 1525 the grandeur of the palace lead Woolsey to present it to King Henry VIII as a gift. Additions to the palace continued over the years, including preparations for Henry's new mistress (and soon to be[headed] Queen) Anne Boleyn. Following her early demise, the hotel welcomed several new wives including Jane Seymour, who's son Prince Edward was baptized in the chapel, and his final marriage (6th) to Catherine Parr which was held in the palace. Following Henry's reign, numerous other monarchs, including King James I, Charles I, Charles II, Queen Mary II, and Queen Anne spent time and holiday's at the palace and pushed for the renovations that now make up Hampton Court Palace.

Much of our time there was spent strolling through the various sections listening to our included audioguide. The information that I gained from it only fueled my already robust curiosity about court life and in particular the Tudors. Our first area to explore was the kitchens. 

To keep raw ingredients cool back in the time prior to refrigeration, a style of storage called a Fish Court was used. The space is a narrow passage that runs north to south with a set of store rooms on each side. The ceiling is open to the air to help keep the stone walls cool. Fish was stored here as well, and they even had the smell of fish lingering in the air for a complete effect. 

To cook roughly 1200 meals a day when court was in session, required large efficient kitchens. These charcoal stoves combined with several roasting pits provided the means to have freshly slaughtered meats every day, instead of cured meats which was the norm for the time period. To continue to add to the effects, a firemaster maintains a pit fire daily and the smells of burning wood fills the halls of the palace as you walk around. 

A hungry court demands a plentiful supply of beer, wine, and ale. 

From the kitchens we followed the food trail from the kitchens to the Great Hall. The Great Hall is a massive hall used for dining and entertaining. The walls are lined with Abraham tapestries which were commissioned by King Henry in 1546. When you first enter the hall you eyes are immediately drawn upward to the wooden ceiling. Stained glass lines the four sides of the hall and fills the rooms with colo(u)rs. 

A girl can wish right......?

From there we went into various rooms used by the court, including watching rooms, the processional route, and the Council Chamber. The Royal Chapel had to be one of my favorite rooms in the palace. Because it is a working chapel, we were not allowed to photograph in there. I found a picture on the web since I can't even begin to describe the beautiful blue vaulted ceiling.

Other beautiful ceilings included this ceiling leading up the stairs to the private apartments. 

And this one in the Great Watching Chamber. 

Almost matched to the grandeur inside, the gardens surrounding the palace left us dazzled with the amount of landscaping and upkeep. 

And our final adventure at Hampton Court Palace was to find our way through a maze. We had fun time and did find our way out eventually.

That's all for this day. We were absolutely pooped by the end of the day that we went back to London and got a quick dinner at the pub (I had Steak and Ale Pie, yum!) and hit the sack for an early morning on Thursday. 

No comments: