Monday, 1 November 2010

Hampton Court, a Tudor palace

Friday morning, overcast but dry, we were off for Hampton Court, the Tudor royal palace across the Thames from Kingston. A couple of buses and we were there in a little more than an hour. (I forgot to mention that when we were in Kingston the other day that we passed an Italian restaurant on the riverfront with freshly butchered lamb and hog hindquarters hanging in the window. The restaurant belongs to an allegedly famous chef, familiar to Erika and Benedict from the cooking channel in America, named Jamie Oliver.) We met the SU students and the Kilfoyles by 10:15 and were soon in the palace.
Overlooking the moat outside the palace.
 Before it became Henry VII's favorite palace Hampton Court had belonged to Cardinal Wolsey, Cardinal of York and Henry's Lord Chancellor, basically his prime minister. Wolsey remodeled the palace when it came into his possession, and many were jealous of his extravagant lifestyle and the influence he wielded over Henry for many years. In effect, Wolsey was the real power behind the throne. But that power waned in the late 1520s when Wolsey, despite tremendous diplomatic efforts on his part with the Pope, failed to persuade the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the mother of Mary but now getting to old to bear a male heir. In a desparate effort to halt the fall from the good graces of Henry, he gave the king Hampton Court and almost all the rest of his wealth. To no avail. With Anne Boleyn and her allies arguing that Wolsey never supported the annulment, his failure to secure it the damning evidence, he was finally arrested. He died on the way to the Tower of London.
Benedict, John, and Susan in the huge palace kitchens.
They were designed to feed at least 600 people twice a day.
 Henry remodeled and added to the palace, and it became his favorite of the 60 houses he owned.
The Clock Tower
Since it was half term and many families spent a day at the palace while school was out, special events were planned for the children.
In the courtyard Sir Thomas, a knight, explained the events of the day, which also included Latin lessons for the children. He observed that the children present would make excellent companions to the Henry's children, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. But they did need some training in Tudor manners.
 Susan and James listen to the Queen's secretary, in the center, introduce everyone to Lady Anne, the Queen's cousin in the Great Hall. Behind them you can make out one of several great tapestries in  the  hall depicting the story of Abraham. Shakespere's company performed for James I in 1603-04 in this hall.
Detail of one of the tapestries. I should note that Erika took all these pictures and most of the pictures on this blog.

Queen Kateryn Parr, Henry's sixth wife, explains that she is acting as Regent while Henry is in France leading his army against the French. She is also stepmother to his children and oversees their education. The children present this day will be candidates to work at the court and serve as companions for the royals. As part of the test for their qualifications they must perform a Masque, a short play, for the Queen later in the afternoon. Everyone shouted, 'God save the Queen!'
Another tapestry. Their are several rooms with tapestries.

Sir Thomas, who would rather be in France fighting alongside his king ('God
save the King!'), demonstrates to the knights-in-training the correct techniques
required to joust successfully.
John shows some excellent form.

While Benedict and I sought the great Maze, James, Earl of
Kilfoyl, received dancing instructions from Lady Ann in the
Great Hall.

The plan of the Maze, regarded as the most famous in Europe. Located in the Wilderness portion of the Gardens.
The plan will not help you.

The Maze in Three Men in a Boat
‘We’ll just go in here, so that you can say you’ve been, but it’s very simple. It’s absurd to call it a maze. You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We’ll just walk around for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch.’
So said Harris, from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889). The tourists he led into the Maze subsequently got lost for hours.

There was a young teacher from Hayes
Took her class to the Hampton Court Maze
They got thoroughly lost
At a reasonable cost
The children and teacher from Hayes.
  •  London Transport poster verse from the early 20th century  
Great. My question is, how do we get out?

In the Wilderness. We made it out of the Maze. I'm the man with the umbrella.
It almost never rains when I bring the umbrella.
The Wilderness

Priceless Chinese ceramics.

The Fountain Court

The children getting ready to rehearse the Masque. The Queen was very
pleased with the performance and accepted all the children to join the court.
She was even happier to announce that she had just heard that the English
army ovecame the French in battle and that her king ('God save the King!')
will soon return to Hampton Court.

Another tapestry.

A family portrait that could never have taken place. Henry with his favorite wife, Jane Seymour, and their son, who would become, for a few short years, King Edward VI. Jane died very shortly after giving birth to Edward. Obscured on the far right is Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn, the future Queen Elizabeth I.

Henry VII as we fondly remember him.

The view towards the River Thames from the palace.

Though we stayed at the palace wandering around the rooms of the palace and having fun watching the courtiers at work for several hours, we had to leave. We resolved to return to inspect the rest of the Gardens and palace.

That evening my niece Jenny picked us up and drove us to Ubley between Bristol and Bath. This was the first night of a thoroughly enjoyable weekend with Alan and Maggie. More later.

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