Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Green and Pleasant Land, Part 7: Last Stop, Hampton Court—and Where I’m Going Next Time

Our final stop on the Doyle Family Tour of Southern England meant leaving Brighton (sigh!) after breakfast and heading for our last stop: we had plans to spend the day at Hampton Court Palace before heading to Heathrow Airport (a short drive away) and back home to Massachusetts.

I had visited Hampton Court on my last visit to England, but had only had time to see a small portion of it. Today we had a good five hours, and we still didn’t see all of it—much less the gardens, which would take a full day just on their own.

Hampton Court has seen centuries of use, from the early sixteenth century through the present day. It was built as a country retreat by Cardinal Wolsey, advisor to King Henry VIII—to whom he gave the palace as a gift when Henry’s favor had turned to Anne Boleyn and her political faction. Henry expanded the palace and did a lot of redecorating for Anne, including putting their entwined initials everywhere...which he had to hastily redo a few years later on divorcing (and beheading) Anne and marry Jane Seymour instead. The area where Henry’s kitchens were located have been restored to their former culinary use, which was pretty awesome to see.

After viewing all the Tudor areas (including his private Chapel and ) we visited the Jacobean and Hanoverian bits as well, viewing portraits and furniture and generally being staggered at the sheer size of this place. George II was really the last English monarch to used Hampton Court as a royal house; George III disliked it intensely, and instead rebuilt Windsor and Buckingham House for his family, and Hampton languished for a while until someone hit on the bright idea of using it as a sort of retirement village for old royal retainers and others who had done some service to the crown or country. It housed hundreds of people through the nineteenth and all the way up to the late twentieth centuries; though apartments stopped being given out in the late 1980s, a few residents linger on.

We had a delightful tea in one of the courtyards before departing for the airport and home...but I’m already plotting my next trip to England. Where will I go?
  • London, to visit the places I didn’t get to this time: Sir John Soane’s House, the Burlington Arcade, and Kensington Palace.
  • Absolutely back to Dartmoor. This time I might want to stay at Lewtrenchard House, former home of a well-loved clergyman and specialist on Dartmoor history and folklore (and author of the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers”) Sabine Baring-Gould.
  • Back to the Jurassic Coast...to Lyme Regis, but also to Sidmouth, which is rife with some awesome Regency architecture.
  • The Isle of Wight (and this time we’ll make ferry reservations!) to see Osborne House as well as the well-preserved Roman ruins there.
  • And then, north! A brief stop in Cambridge, to revisit where I spent one summer at Christ’s College, and York, which is one of the most delightful cities in England, and finally on to the Lake District to stay on Ullswater and do some more tramping about the countryside.
Thank you for following along on my trip...now, where in England would you like to go?

1 comment:

QNPoohBear said...

It sounds like a dream trip. I haven't made it out to Hampton Court yet. We tried when my family came to visit but they were all jet lagged and didn't get moving soon enough. My dream trip involves a brief stop in London to see Hyde Park - Rotten Row, of course; Aspley House (Wellington's home) and walk around Mayfair. Then on to Bath for a longer stay than the 4 days I was there; another visit to the charming Cotswolds with a long stop in Lacock; a visit to Hampshire to visit Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), Chawton House (rare books library = heaven!) and maybe Chawton Cottage again if it's not super crowded; then to Oxford. I NEED to get in the Bodleian (more rare books!); a trip to Lyme to see the spot where Louisa Musgrove fell. There are a few other places that the Jane Austen Festival people have access to that I'd like to see but aren't on my must-see list yet.