Part 2 – N-Z
N- New Year 1604
King James would spend Christmas and New Year of 1604-5 at Hampton Court. Included in the festivities would be a performance of a Midsummer’s Nights Dream (my favourite Shakespeare play) in the Great Hall by the Kings Men whose dramatist was none other than William Shakespeare.
O- On Location
Hampton Court Palace has been the location of many blockbuster movies and TV shows, the most recent being scenes from The Favourite starring Olivia Coleman and about Queen Anne and Lady Marlborough. Scenes were shot in the Great Kitchens, The Serving Place, and the Cartoon Gallery.
Other films include Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), The New World (2005)The Young Victoria (2009) and The Libertine (2004) to name a few. TV shows, as well as documentaries, include Little Dorrit (2008), John Adams (2008), and The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001).
All the proceeds made from filming at the Palaces goes back into the conservation of the Palace.
P- Sybil Penn
Sybil Penn was the dry nurse to King Edward VI and a woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I. It was while at Hampton Court Palace that Elizabeth came down with Smallpox so severely that the Drs thought she would not survive. Penn would nurse Elizabeth day and night to help her sovereign recover back to health, which Elizabeth did. Unfortunately, Penn did not and succumbed to the disease. It is said that she is one of the ghosts at the Palace and sightings only started when her grave was disturbed at the parish church. She is believed to be a grey spectre wandering Clock Court and responsible for working a spinning wheel in a room where there is nothing there.
Q- Queens at Hampton Court
Several English Queens have lived at Hampton Court and experienced times of sorrow and joy in its walls. It was one of the final places visited by Elizabeth of York before she died after childbirth complications at the Tower of London in 1503. The Palace underwent some changes to make way for Anne Boleyn in 1536 but as soon as she fell from grace all reminders of her were removed. Her successor, Jane Seymour would die at the Palace in 1537 after giving birth to Edward. Her rooms no longer exist today but her ghosts are said to haunt the Silverstick staircase. Her heart is buried in the Chapel. I have already spoken about Catherine Howard at the Palace.
Queen Mary, I would take her confinement at the Palace when she was convinced she was pregnant in April 1555. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a phantom pregnancy and eventually her husband King Philip of Spain spent more and more time away from her.
Queen Mary, the granddaughter of King Charles I and her husband William of Orange would work in partnership in the redesigning of Hampton Court into its Baroque splendour. Sir Christopher Wren found in her a keen and willing patron to create the longed-for Palace, which he had wanted to; build (even though the plans were scaled down). She was the drive behind the changes to the palace and would have detailed discussion with Wren about how to proceed due to her husband being in French campaigning. On her death, plans came to a standstill at the Palace or a time.
Mary’s sister, Queen Anne spent the last four years of her life at Hampton Court making vast improvements including the Chapel Royal, which we see today. In her reign, she would use the Palace as a midway point from London and her country retreat of Windsor and when in residence the Palace became the site of political intrigue and factions.
R- Real Tennis
Tennis or real Tennis (a tag added at the end of the 19th century to separate it from ‘lawn tennis’ was a popular sport in the Tudor Period and Henry VIII enjoyed playing it in his younger days. Wolsey had a tennis court built at Hampton Court Palace between 1526 – 1529. The current one dates from 1625.
The Real Tennis Champions Trophy takes place at Hampton Court Palace every summer, supported by Mitsubishi Electric.
The Cardinal Spider is said to have its name from Cardinal Wolsey’s fear of them. They were a common sight around the Palace, and can grow quite large!
In the Great Hall at Hampton, one cannot miss the magnificent Tapestries hung on its walls. In the Tudor period, tapestries were a sign of wealth and status.
These Tapestries are a series of 10 panels most likely commissioned by Henry VIII and show scenes from the life of Abraham from the Book of Genesis. Completed in 1546, they were woven in Brussels from wool, silk and thread of Gold and Silver. They would have been a bright burst of colour (unfortunately, the colour has faded over time).
After King Charles I execution in 1649 they were valued at £8,260 and would have been the most valuable item in the late king’s collection. They are considered one of the finest pieces of decorative artwork from the period.
Yes, there are Unicorns as well as Dragons at Hampton Court Palace, although only pretend ones. The unicorns can be spotted outside the main gatehouse as one enters the Palace. It is part of eight carved beasts, known as the Kings Beasts, which were originally installed at the request of King Henry VIII. Each carving represents the ancestry of either Henry or his third wife Jane Seymour. There is the Lion of England, the Royal Dragon, the Black Bull of Clarence, the Yale of Beaufort, the white lion of Mortimer, the White Greyhound of Richmond, the Tudor Dragon, the Seymour Panther, and the Seymour Unicorn.
V- Antonio Verrio
Heading towards William III State Apartments, one cannot miss the beautiful painting on the staircase titled ‘Victory of Alexander over the Caesars. Italian artist Antonio Verrio painted it. Verrio would work for the English monarchy for 30 years and earned himself lodgings and a pension at Hampton Court where he died in 1707.
The 12 Caesars represents the Catholic forces that William has ousted in the Glorious Revolution. William is the hero, Alexander.
Cardinal Wolsey was the Chief Minister of King Henry VIII and was the last of his type to be seen in England. The son of a Butcher Wolsey worked his way up to be King in all but name. As a result, he, therefore, needed to live like one and would inherit several luxurious sites which came with his various titles which he improved, making them fit for a King. Hampton Court he would acquire privately of Lord Daubeney and was to be his country retreat to entertain.
His developments to the Palace which we can see today is the spectacular entrance, Base Court, the along Gallery and his suite of rooms with their ribbed ceilings which is still there today. Wolsey would also add a suite of rooms for not only the King but also his wife and eldest daughter Princess Mary.
Many would say Wolsey downfall was a result of him getting too greedy and living better than the king himself. Wolsey, however, would say that as he represented the King he, therefore, needed to live like him so he could do Henry justice. He even allowed Henry the use of all his homes to use at his leisure.
Wolsey downfall was mainly due to the fact of not being able to get a resolution the Kings Great Matter – his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He fell, and he fell hard. He would eventually die on way to the Tower of London to face trial in 1503
X- Rosa X Alba
In Chapel Court, there is a beautiful garden, which was created to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIIIs ascension to the throne. The insertion for the garden came from the Family of Henry viii portrait, which shows Henry with all three children and his third wife Jane Seymour. Although the setting for the painting is from Whitehall Palace, there is a garden in the background, which would have been similar to those at Hampton Court.
Some of the plants included in the garden are Irises, Periwinkle, Miny, Gilly Flower, the Red rose (of Lancaster) and the White Rose of York (Rosa x alba). Henry VIII parents being from each of the Houses and supposedly uniting the warring houses in what was termed by Shakespeare the Wars of the Roses.
Y- Yeoman of the Guard
William III apartments show what life would have been like a Court for a courtier who wanted an audience with the King. Each room from the Guard Chamber to the Bedroom each gets more lavish in style and each room the closer one got to the monarch.
The first room to get through would have been the guard chamber and one would have been met with the yeoman of the Guard. They would make sure that couriers were suitably dressed and well behaved before allowing them to progress further.
Next, they would enter the Presence Chamber, the official throne room followed by the Privy Chamber where on statement and courtiers who were close to the king would have been permitted. The Great Bedchamber was where one could watch the king’s ceremony of dressing in the morning; he slept in the room next door – the Little Bedroom.
Z- Zone 6
Hampton Court Palace lies in Zone 6 of the London Underground. It takes 50 minutes from Waterloo to get there by train and once you arrive you cannot but be in awe of the great Palace. It sits right onto of the River (and sometimes you can even take a boat ride there instead and be like the nobility of old).
Davidson, C (2009) How to read buildings: a crash course in architecture. Heret press London.
Worsely, L and Souden D. (2012) The Official illustrated History of Hampton Court Palace. Merrell in association with Historic Royal Palaces: London
Anon (nd) Chapel Court. Available from: https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/whats-on/chapel-court/#gs.0wmbzf [Accessed 02/09/19]
Anon (nd) The Story of Hampton Court. Available from: https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/history-and-stories/the-story-of-hampton-court-palace/#gs.0wu5kp [Accessed 02/09/2019]
Anon (2015) Hampton Court Palace Ghost Stories. Available from: www.blog.hrp.org.uk/hampton_court_palace_ghost_stories [Accessed 31/08/19]
Jones, B (2015) The Eavesdroppers of the Great Hall. Available from: http://theenchantedmanor.com/tag/the-eavesdroppers-of-the-great-hall/ [Accessed 02/09/2019]