Ever since I learned about Henry the 8th at Primary school, I have been fascinated by the Tudor period. It is such a monumental part of British history in both political and religious arenas, that it is difficult not to be drawn into the world of lavish court life, gory beheadings and the background of one of the Englands most famous monarchs. It is for this reason that I’ve been eager to have a family day out at Hampton Court Palace for quite some time and why it had to be on our itinerary on our most recent visit to London.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is a beautifully crafted representation of the indulgence of court life during the Tudor reign. From it’s rich and warm brickwork to the intricate carvings, Hampton Court Palace radiates elegance and wealth.
We started our day by attempting to explore the Palace itself. After making our way through the gate and into the courtyard, we went to collect the audio tour guides that are available. Unfortunately because of the nature of Tudor court life, the boys weren’t allowed one and so we thought we would attempt to explore without an audio guide to keep the little ones amused.
We managed to make our way around part of the first section, which focusses on Henry the 8th’s early life and his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. I hadn’t realised quite how influential Catherine of Aragon had been during her reign and it was fascinating learning more about her. Unfortunately the boys started to get a bit restless after a short while and letting them use our adult audio guide didn’t help much because the headphones were a bit too big, so we decided to skip the palace after all and headed to the gardens.
Hampton Court Palace Gardens
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring parts of the gardens. Although some areas were closed off during out visit, we enjoyed the parts that we got to see.
We started in the Rose garden, where we spent our time running around the large borders and soaking up the sunshine. The borders are truly beautiful and we found ourselves being inspired by the climbing roses growing up the walls.
After the Rose garden we made our way to the Maze, which is the oldest surviving hedge maze and we had a great time working our way to the middle. Bear in particular loved being in charge of guiding us through the twisting, winding pathways and retracing our steps after finding ourselves at dead ends.
Once we made it out of the maze, we walked through the wilderness garden and headed over to the kitchen garden where we kept a lookout for pesky Peter Rabbit. I always find kitchen gardens inspiring and we left with ideas of growing some of our own produce next year.
We finished our day in the Magic Garden, which is a beautifully laid out play area that captures the imaginations of little ones. There are climbing areas designed like castles and turrets, stone dragons and water play areas lined with miniature tents. The boys loved exploring and took no time in getting soaked by the fountains and water pumps. In hindsight we should have taken some swimming clothes with us.
Note: Tickets for both the maze and the magic garden can be bought separately, but because as we had tickets for Hampton Court Palace, both of these were included.
Our thoughts on a family day out at Hampton Court Palace
As we were staying in a hotel close to London we decided to drive to Hampton Court Palace and found it relatively easy to get to. There was also reasonably priced parking close by, which made our travelling arrangements stress free.
In hindsight, the palace itself wasn’t the most age appropriate for the boys, but we would love to go back at a later date when the boys are a bit older and can understand a bit better. Although we didn’t spend much time exploring the palace itself, we loved exploring the gardens. We would like to visit again in the future and are already looking forward to our next family day out at Hampton Court Palace.
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