Hampton Court Take Two

So as I’m sure you’re all aware from the amount I’ve been harping on and on about it on twitter and facebook for the past few weeks that yesterday I went to Hampton Court. The main reason for the visit was to see the Wild, the Beautiful & The Damned, all about sex and beauty at the Court of Charles II. But of course, Hampton Court isn’t all about that and there was plenty of other stuff to see and do. So here we go, complete with lots and lots of photos!

Of course, Hampton Court is full of Tudor bits and bobs and is best known as “the home of Henry VIII”, as well as the stories that haunt the entire Palace. The one that always gets me is that Hampton Court is where Henry found out that Katherine Howard was having it away with other men, thanks to Cranmer leaving him a note in the Chapel Royal. Katherine was confined to her chambers (the staff reckon this was where Mary II’s chambers now are) and she ran down the gallery where all the Tudor Portraits now hang, screaming out for him. Is this a true story? Who knows, but there are plenty of stories about visitors getting creeped out in the gallery, and staff members noticing some funny goings on!

Hung along the so called Haunted Gallery are an absolute cornucopia of Tudor portraits, including the famous family portrait, the famous portrait of the young Edward VI and the well known face of Henry VII.

At the end of this gallery you have the Great Watching Chamber. When we were here last time, a dude dressed up as Henry VIII received petitions in here, and I had the honour of asking him to help my “unmarried sister” find a husband. Today there were no costumed interpreters (they were too busy in the courtyard) but the room still managed to take my breath away.

Just off from here is the Great Hall, where the royalty would have eaten their dinner/massive banquets. My photos of the Hall didn’t come out very well, but here goes…

Now then, earlier on I mentioned costumed interpreters. We found these in Clock Court…

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn decided to have a full scale argument about the fact Katherine of Aragon was still making his shirts! After Anne stormed off, Henry just couldn’t work out what he had done wrong and wandered off leaving George Boleyn to get help from the audience! Later on, Anne was much happier as Katherine was no longer allowed to make his shirts and she was going to made Marquess of Pembroke. I did wonder whether George took forward my suggestion of flowers!

After lunch we decided to take a walk around the Gardens because the weather was actually AMAZING and last time we were there it was raining too hard to even think about going for a walk around them. I was absolutely stunned at their beauty. And it was Charles II who introduced the central avenue of trees!

After this, we headed back inside and discovered a whole wing of the Palace that we had never seen before. I spotted a sign pointing to William III’s apartments leading to an extraordinarily grand staircase. Now the staircase I had seen before but we hadn’t gone up there, which is a shame because I was completely in awe seeing these wonderful rooms.

At first I thought this was a painting of a group of people in the room where we were standing. But at a closer look I realised that it was actually a photograph of people re-enacting a scene from the time of William III! This room as well (I didn’t manage to get any pictures due to rubbish lighting) was decorated with guns all over the walls in incredibly beautiful patterns. After this we were taken through a series of room which made up grand bedrooms, huge rooms with gorgeous portraits hung on the wall…

And then I was surprised by this guy…

Standing there, in all regal and kingly glory was Charles I. I may have had a bit of a moment when I saw it and jumped up and down squealing with joy. Yes, I adore this man almost as much as I adore his son and I have far too many feelings for the Stuart family. They were just incredibly unlucky, and made some bad decisions but just…wow. I adore them. As you may have gathered from my 17th Century, Stuart family rambles on this blog. And after this room full of fab, there were even more rooms that just made me long to live in the palace. Oh, and I discovered the royal toilet as well!

Wait? More Charlie? I’m not sorry at all. Anyway, after finding more fabulous portraits of Charlie I we stumbled across this absolutely stunning corridor which reminded me, somewhat weirdly, of the mansion from the original Resident Evil game.

Isn’t it just fantastic? And the best bit was that there was literally no one there! It seems these parts of the Palace are much less known about than the Tudor areas, which is so sad because these hallways and galleries are just absolutely stunning.

And that was that. I’m sure there are many more nooks and crannies to discover in this fantastic palace and I will say now that next time I go I will be spending more time in the Stuart and later era rooms than the Tudor parts. Just because…I mean look at them. I just adore Hampton Court, and it has a really special place in my heart – mainly for the massive Charles II portrait that hangs in Mary’s apartments. But not only that, it’s like something out of a fairy tale with so many hidden gems it’s unreal. I doubt I will ever love anywhere as much as I love Hampton Court, the stories that just come at you from every angle. It is certainly a very magical place. Now, I will leave you with a picture of me and a wooden man getting drunk in Base Court.

Tired of The Tudors

Picture by me

The Tudors have been a huge interest of mine since I was at least 8 years old, when we did a big project at primary school about Henry VIII’s six wives. We had to paint a particular wife, and I chose to do Anne Boleyn. My picture ended up looking like a big mess, but I ended up falling head over heels in love with them. I thought Henry VIII was proper cool, and two of his wives ended up being my utter favourites: Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. And that love stuck with me for many years. But when I was at University I discovered the joys of the Stuart Dynasty, Charles I and the English Civil War and of course Charles II and the Restoration. From there I was hooked, more so than I ever had been with the Tudor dynasty. It was kind of like the Stuart’s spoke to me in some kind of odd way. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the Tudors, I still read about them, still devoured everything I could get my hands on about them.

But then I discovered the online world of history blogging, and the Showtime show The Tudors.
I’m sure you’re all aware that I have posted on The Tudors on this here blog, that I still have a huge fascination with Katherine Howard and get rubbed up the wrong way when someone turns around and says that Anne Boleyn was a witch who had six fingers. But saying that, the Tudors are just everywhere. I can’t even turn a corner without hearing something about Henry VIII, there are so many books coming out about Henry and his wives, and there is nothing NEW. A few months back I ventured into reading about Mary Boleyn and was shocked at how bad the book was, so full of maybes and “Mary Boleyn was thinking this at this exact moment”. It’s great that authors are trying something new, writing about individuals within Tudor history who little is known about but when the history books start speculating, it makes me want to tear my hair out. 
In a way I blame Showtime’s “The Tudors” for making so many people start loving the dynasty and it is great that people are now getting an interest. But when people start believing that everything in the show is fact? Cue more hair tearing out. The show was a great bit of entertainment don’t get me wrong, but it was so full of inaccuracies it was unreal. The horse and carts? They didn’t come into play until much later. Anne Stanhope and her affairs with Thomas Seymour and Francis Bryan? NO. Edward Seymour’s first wife Catherine Filliol was the unfaithful one. And don’t even get me started on the fact that the show had Henry VIII having just the one sister…I love the show, I honestly do. As I said it was a great bit of entertainment but since seeing it, I have seen so many people believing everything that happened in it as fact. 
I have so many Tudor-esque books on my shelf to read and right now I am loathe to even pick them up. So much so I’ve resorted to the world of historical fiction for a bit (1066 and the Bayeaux tapestry anyone?), and part of me doesn’t want to pick a Tudor book up for a very long time. But me being me, I will because I like to learn. A lot of it will be stuff I already know but there are two books which I am intrigued about – one on Henry Fitzroy, the other on Thomas More. These should be interesting, and part of me hopes the authors don’t resort to speculation but if I’m honest I’m not holding out much hope. 
Not only that but there are so many out there who think they are the reincarnation of various Tudor people. I’ve come across at least 20 people claiming they are a reincarnation of Anne Boleyn, all of which claim to have “memories” of her. But do you want to know what the funny thing is? All of these memories either come directly from “The Tudors” or Phillipa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl”. And when I see stuff like this I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I apologise to any Tudor fans who aren’t the type to base their stuff on TV shows and rubbish historical fiction, I have seen some amazing Tudor blogs who base their stuff on solid research and sources but I still can’t help but think that the Tudors are everywhere right now and there’s nothing new coming to light. I will certainly slog through the rest of the Tudor books I have to read but I can’t promise I’ll enjoy them as much as I once did. For now I think it’s time for me to start reading around other areas of history that interest me – the English Civil War, Charles I, the Restoration, Renaissance Italy, The Crusades. Anything but the Tudors right now thank you very much.