Hampton Court

Hampton Court, Richmond upon Thames

A royal palace, park and gardens, set in a loop of the Thames, south of Bushy Park and Teddington

Hampton Court Palace

By 1066 Hamp­ton manor exist­ed as an impor­tant agri­cul­tur­al estate with roy­al con­nec­tions. The Knights Hos­pi­taller acquired it in 1236 and in 1338 the manor build­ings con­sist­ed of a cham­ber block, hall, gar­den and church.

Tha manor was leased to Sir Giles Daubeney in 1494. He built a kitchen next to the hall, which sur­vives as the Great Kitchen, and a court­yard and gate­house.

Car­di­nal Wolsey took the lease from 1514 and extend­ed the exist­ing build­ings with a sec­ond court­yard of lodg­ings, Base Court and the Great Gate­house. He also added a gallery for view­ing the gar­den, con­struct­ed a grand chapel and intro­duced lav­ish suites for the king and queen.

Hen­ry VIII reg­u­lar­ly used Hamp­ton Court and by 1528 had made it his own. He extend­ed the kitchens; built the Hous­es of Offices (the bake­house and stores) and coun­cil cham­ber; rebuilt the chapel and great hall; con­struct­ed a sys­tem to bring drink­ing water from Coombe Hill in Kingston; and improved san­i­ta­tion. The Great House of Ease­ment, a lava­to­ry block, could seat 28. Hen­ry built new apart­ments for him­self (Bayne Tow­er) and his queen, and pro­vid­ed for his enter­tain­ment with bowl­ing alleys, ten­nis courts, a hunt­ing park and gar­dens.

Formal Garden, Hampton Court Palace
The privy gar­den has been restored to how it would have looked for William III in 1702

Dur­ing the reign of James I, Hamp­ton Court was the set­ting for a reli­gious con­fer­ence which led to the deci­sion to pub­lish the autho­rised ver­sion of the Bible com­mon­ly known as the ‘King James’ Bible.

The build­ings changed lit­tle until the reign of William III and Mary II (from 1689), who com­mis­sioned Sir Christo­pher Wren to remod­el the palace. New apart­ments were built over­look­ing a new privy gar­den, and the maze was plant­ed. The full court was at Hamp­ton Palace for the last time in 1737.

The palace was opened to the pub­lic in 1838 and went through a peri­od of restora­tion. In 1986 a fire destroyed some of the king’s apart­ments; repair­ing the dam­age took six years. Hamp­ton Court gar­dens attract over one mil­lion vis­i­tors a year and a flower show is held every July.

Hamp­ton Court sta­tion and the sur­round­ing res­i­den­tial area of that name are locat­ed on the oth­er side of the Thames in the Sur­rey bor­ough of Elm­bridge.

The Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley was probably the greatest artist to have worked prolifically in the Hampton Court area, although he did not focus his attention on the palace itself. In a series of works painted in 1874, Sisley depicted the riverside, a regatta, the bridge across the Thames (from the side and below) and the road to and from Hampton Court.

Postcode area: East Molesey KT8
Station: South West Trains (zone 6)
Riverboat pier: Hampton Court
Further reading: Lucy Worsley and David Souden, Hampton Court Palace: The Official Illustrated History, Merrell, 2005
Website: Hampton Court Palace
* The picture of The Great Gatehouse and entrance courtyard at Hampton Court Palace at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Roman Hobler, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence. The picture of the Privy Garden is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Christine Matthews, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of those licences.