A royal day out for Chevening
A group of Chevening Scholars stepped back in time as they visited the historic Hampton Court Palace, home to King Henry VIII.
Scholars were treated to a guided tour of the palace from a ‘Georgian lady’, and experienced a traditional English cream tea.
Rommell Hall, a Chevening Social Media Ambassador, went along to see the palace in all it’s glory. Here’s his story:
‘Chevening Scholars recently visited Hampton Court Palace as part of Chevening’s ‘Best of British’ series. It promised to be a day where we got the chance to ‘discover the magnificence of Henry VIII’s favourite royal residence’ while having the opportunity to take in ‘the sights and sounds of the bustling Base Court and marvel at the breath-taking grandeur of Henry’s State Rooms’. By and large, Hampton Court Palace lived up to its promise.
We were met by a costumed guide at the gate who introduced us to the property and its history, from being a manor house to its transformation into an expansive property with lush gardens and expansive architecture. This architecture included ‘The King’s Beasts’ which were 10 ferocious statues that stand at the entrance and ‘The House of Easement’ which was a late addition to the property and contained 28 toilets that flowed directly into the Thames River through a sluice gate.
When we entered the expansive courtyard the first thing we saw was the wine fountain: a functional fountain recreated to resemble the fountains used during Henry VIII’s many festivities at the palace. This majestic fountain serves as a centrepiece for the courtyard and was a reminder to all of the lavish lifestyle enjoyed here.
As we walked through the building, we couldn’t help but react in awe at the intricacy of the architecture, the detailed paintings and stained glass windows which bore witness to the skilled craftsmen of the day. There were many areas in the palace that were rich in historic value, however, three sites that stood out for me were:
- The Great Hall – This is a huge medieval room which is decorated with tapestries on the wall and covered by a finely decorated hammer beam roof. It is said that William Shakespeare’s company ‘The King’s Men’ performed there for King James I in 1603. What was interesting for me were the little heads carved into the eaves of the roof which looked down on us. These little heads or ‘eavesdroppers’ were created to remind people that the “walls have ears”.
- The Astronomical Clock – This clock housed in the gatehouse of the inner court not only displays the hour of the day, it displays the month of the year, the day of the month, the position of the sun, the twelve signs of the zodiac as well as the phases of the moon.
- The Hedge Maze – Said to be the oldest surviving maze in the world, it was built for King William III and Mary II in 1690. It was both exciting and frustrating trying to get to the centre of the maze but a few of us made it.
All in all it was a beautiful day which ended with traditional cream tea as we mingled with each other and talked about the experiences we had learning more about the Best of Britain.’